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THE LOEB CLASSICAL LIBRARY 

EDITED BY 
T. E. PAGE, LITT.D. 

E. CAPPS, PH.D., LL.D. W. H. D. ROUSE, litt.d 



SELECT LETTERS 
OF ST. JEROME 



r 




S. JEROME IN THE DESERT 

Left hand panel, Pope Damasus and Eusebius, Bishop of 
Caesarea. 

Right hand panel, Paula and Eustoehium. 

The small kneeling figures represent the patron who commissioned the 
picture and his son. 

[Reproduced from the picture by Botticini, by permission 
of the trustees of the SationaJ Qallery."] 



JerfC) 



'-I'. 



SELECT LETTEKS 
OF ST. JEROME 



WITH AN Bl^LISH TRANSLATION BY 
Fi^Xy WRIGHT, M.A. 

PROFESSOR OP CLASSICS DT LOSDOS XTNTVEBfiHY 




.\^. 









LONDON: WILLL\M HEINEMANN LTD 
ZVV YORK: G. P. PUTNAxM'S SONS 
Mciqxxxiu 



m 

1933 



Printed in Great Britain 



CONTENTS 



St. Jerome in the Desert Frontispiece 

LETTEB 

IXTRODUCTION 

I. The Woman Struck by Seven 
Swords 
VII. Family Affairs 
XIV. The Ascetic Life 
^XXII. The Virgin's Profession 
"^XXXVIII. A Good Woman 

XL. Onasus the Windbag 
7<XLIII. The Country Life 
XLIV. A Letter of Thanks 
XLV. Innocent Friendships 
tf<s,-',LII. A Clergyman's Duties 
LIV. Widows 
^ LX. A Letter of Consol-ation 
^ LXXVII. The Eulogy of Fabiola 

^ CVII. A Girl's Education . 
^ CXVII. Dangerous Friendships 
- CXXV. Good and Bad Monks 
CXXVII. Marcella and the Sack of Rom 
>^CXXVIII. Feminine Training 
Appendices 
Index of Proper Names 



PAGE 

vii 

2 

18 
28 
52 
158 
166 
170 
176 
178 
188 
228 
264 
308 
338 
370 
396 
438 
466 
483 
503 



^'7 



INTRODUCTION 

(a) Life of Jerome 

Jerome — or, to give him his significant Greek name, 
Eusebius HieronjTnus — was bom a.d. 345 at Stridon 
in Dalmatia, a small to\\Ti near Aquileia, which was 
partly destroyed by the Goths during their invasion 
of 377. His father, Eusebius, and his mother were 
Christians of moderate wealth and were alive in 373 
when Jerome first went to the East, but probably 
died when Stridon was taken by the barbarians. 
Jerome himself received a good education at his 
local school, and then, like most young pro\-incials of 
talent, he was attracted to Rome, where he studied 
rhetoric under the great grammarian Aelius Donatus, 
returning with his friend Bonosus to Aquileia in 370. 
In that toATO he estabhshed his first society of 
ascetics, which lasted for three years until some 
event — referred to by him variously as ' a sudden 
storm ' and ' a monstrous rending asunder ' — broke 
up the fellowship, and Jerome >vith a few of his closer 
associates went eastwards to Antioch. But even 
this small company did not remain long together, 
and a meeting >\-ith the old hermit Malchus made 
Jerome resolve to seek complete solitude. The 
adjacent desert of Chalcis was'already full of hermits 
living under the rule of Theodosius, and Jerome soon 
became one of their nimaber, sleeping in a bare cell, 



INTRODUCTION 

clothed in sackcloth, submitting himself to rigorous 
penances, and for five years giving all his days to 
devotional exercise and to the study of the Scriptures. 
This first period of Jerome's life ended in 379 when 
he returned to Antioch and was ordained presbyter 
by Bishop Paulinus. With Paulinus he attended 
the Second General Council at Constantinople, 
where he met Gregory Nazianzen and Gregory of 
Nyssa, and in his bishop's company he came to Rome 
for the Church Council held there in 382, and for the 
next three years lived in the great city. The Pope 
at that time was Damasus, the clerical dilettante 
who made the catacombs a show place for the world, 
and Jerome soon became his intimate friend and 
trusted adviser, constantly consulted on all points 
of biblical knowledge and finally commissioned to 
write a revised Latin version of the Psalms and the 
New Testament. This was a task of pure scholar- 
ship, but Jerome also found amid the luxury and 
splendour of Rome a few ardent souls, most of them 
women, who were ready to embrace and follow his 
ascetic rule. One of his disciples was Paula, the 
heiress of the great Aemilian family, who brought 
over her two daughters Blesilla and Eustochium. 
Another was the wealthy Marcella, at whose palace 
on the Aventine master and pupils used to come 
together for the study of Hebrew, to join in earnest 
prayer, and to sing psalms. During these months 
Jerome was perhaps as happy as he ever thought it 
right to be, but the death of his protector Damasus 
unchained against him all the enmities that his 
rigorous virtues had challenged and his bitter 
sarcasms provoked. The new Pope Siricius regarded 
him as a dangerous rival ; the mob were enraged by 



INTRODUCTION 

the sudden death of Blesilla, which was believed to 
have been caused by her prolonged fastings and 
penances ; the cry was raised * The monks to the 
Tiber ' : and Jerome left Rome and Europe for ever. 

Then began the third period in Jerome's Ufe. He 
resolved that he would no longer sing the Lord's song 
in a strange land, and taking Paula and Eustochiura 
with him he went once more to the East, the true 
home of ascetic belief, and after some little delay 
settled down in Judaea at Bethlehem, where he 
remained for the last thirty-four years of his existence. 
At Bethlehem he built a monastery of which he was 
head, a convent over which first Paula and then 
Eustochium presided, a church where both com- 
munities assembled for worship, and a hospice to 
lodge the pilgrims who came from all parts of the 
world to that holy ground. The expenses of these 
various institutions were borne by Paula until even 
her great wealth was exhausted, and then by Jerome 
himself, who sold the remains of his family property 
for their support. Their administration must have 
occupied a portion of his time, but the greater part 
of his energy was given at Bethlehem, as everj^- 
where, to writing and study. Not that his life was 
peaceful, or that he passed his days in quietude. 
His own character always ensured a certain amount 
of friction ; he quarrelled bitterly with the Bishop 
of Jerusalem ; his health was never of the best ; and 
the calm of his monastery was continually being 
broken by rumours of wars and by the actual shock 
of invasion. 

The sack of Rome in 410, for example, spread 
terror even in Palestine, and it is from Jerome 
perhaps that we get the clearest idea of the con- 



INTRODUCTION 

sternation caused throughout the world by the 
fall of the imperial city. In the preface to his 
Ezekiel he ^^Tites : ' I was so stupefied and dismayed 
that day and night I could think of nothing but the 
welfare of the Roman community. It seemed to me 
that I was sharing the captivity of the saints and I 
could not open my lips until I received some more 
definite news. All the while, full of anxiety, I 
wavered between hope and despair, torturing myself 
with the misfortunes of others. But when I heard 
that the bright light of all the world was quenched, 
or rather that the Roman Empire had lost its head 
and that the whole universe had perished in one city : 
then indeed, " I became dumb and humbled myself 
and kept silence from good words." ' But however 
troubled at heart Jerome might be, neither public 
calamity nor private sorrow could stop his labours. 
Paula passed away from him in Palestine ; Marcella 
only survived the barbarities of the sack of Rome for 
a short period; even Eustochixmi, although she was 
of a younger generation, succumbed to the rigours 
of the ascetic life. But the old man, nearly blind 
and over seventy, was still working at his commen- 
tary on Jeremiah when his last illness came. He 
died September 20th, 420, and his body was buried 
beside Paula near the grotto of the Nativity at 
Bethlehem, in later days to be transferred and to be 
the cause of many a miracle at the Church of Santa 
Maria Maggiore in Rome. 

(b) Jerome's Works 

The literary works of Jerome, apart from the 
Letters, are very voliuninous, for he lived a long life, 



INTRODUCTION 

was a quick writer, and possessed enormous powers of 
industry'-. The following list is given by Canon 
Fremantle. 

I. Bible Translations. 

(a) From the Hebrew. — ^The \'ulgate of the Old 
Testament, \vritten at Bethlehem, begun 391 and 
finished 404. 

(b) From the Septuagint. — The Psalms as used at 
Rome, A\Titten in Rome 383, and the Psalms as used 
in Gaul, >\Titten at Bethlehem 388, this Gallican 
Psalter being collated with the Hebrew. The Book 
of Job, ^v^itten at Bethlehem 386-392. 

(c) From the Chaldee. — ^The Books of Tobit and 
Judith. Bethlehem, 398. 

(d) From the Greek. — ^The Vulgate version of the 
New Testament, made at Rome, 382-385. 

II. Commentaries. 

(a) Original. — Ecclesiastes, 385. Isaiah, 410. 
Jeremiah i-xxxii, 419. Ezekiel, 410-414. Daniel, 
407. Minor Prophets, 391-406. St. Matthew, 
398. Galatians, Ephesians, Titus, Philemon, 388. 
All these MTitten at Bethlehem. 

(6) Translated from the Greek of Origen. — Jere- 
miah and Ezekiel, Bethlehem, 381. St. Luke, 
Bethlehem, 389. Canticles, Rome and Bethlehem, 
385-387. 

A commentary on Job and a translation of Origen 's 
Isaiah are also often attributed to Jerome. 

III. Books on Scriptural Subjects. 

(a) A glossary of proper names in the Old Testa- 
ment, 388. 

xi 



INTRODUCTION 

(b) Questions on Genesis, 388. 

(c) A translation of Eusebius ' On the sites and 
names of Hebrew places,' 388. 

(d) A translation of Didymus ' On the Holy 
Spirit,' 385-387. 

All these WTitten at Bethlehem. 

IV. Books on Church History and Controversy. 

(a) Book of Illustrious Men, Bethlehem, 392. 
(6) Dialogue with a Luciferian, Antioch, 379. 

(c) Lives of the Hermits : Paulus. Desert of 
Chalcis, 374. Hilarion and Malchus, Bethlehem, 390. 

(d) Translation of the Rule of Pachomius, Bethle- 
hem, 404. 

(e) Against Helvidius, Rome, 384. Against Jovi- 
nian, Bethlehem, 393. Against Vigilantius, Bethle- 
hem, 406. Against John of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, 
398. Against Rufinus, Bethlehem, 402-404. 

V. General History. 

Translation, with additions, of the Chronicle of 
Eusebius, Constantinople, 382. 

Few writers in any age or in any country can 
surpass this catalogue. Among I/atin authors 
Cicero, Livy, and Augustine come nearest to Jerome, 
but even they fall short of his immense productive- 
ness. The Vulgate alone would be a full life's work, 
and yet it forms only a small part of Jerome's labours. 
History, biography, theological controversy, scrip- 
tural exegesis, all flowed A\ath equal readiness from 
his pen, and like Cicero, who is his closest exemplar 
in Latin literature, he writes on all subjects with equal 
skill. The two men in character are altogether 



INTRODUCTION 

different: Cicero ^\-ished to please everybody, 
Jerome wished to please no one ; Cicero was wrapped 
up in the things of this world, Jerome fixed his gaze 
steadfastly on the world to come ; Cicero reserved 
his deepest feelings of unselfishness for his son and 
daughter, Jerome would seem to discourage all 
procreation and child-bearing. But they are aUke in 
one respect : they are both, first and foremost, men 
of letters, and when Jerome has a subject that gives 
scope for skill, subjects such as he finds in his contro- 
versy Avith Jo\-inian, in the Uves of the three hermits 
Paul, Hilarion and Malchus, and in many of his 
Letters, he shows himself a wonderful master of 
words. 

(c) The Letters 

There are four considerable collections of letters 
in Latin literature, those of Cicero, Seneca, Phny 
and Jerome. Of these the letters of Cicero and of 
Jerome are the largest in bulk and the most impor- 
tant in substance, and even if Cicero has some 
advantage in wit and grace of style, there can be no 
doubt that for a Christian reader the subjects with 
which Jerome deals make him infinitely the more 
valuable. We have now extant one hundred and 
fifty-four epistles from his pen, >vritten between 
the years 370 and 419, and varying in length from a 
few lines to several thousand words, which in Hil- 
berg's edition fill nearly sixteen hundred pages. The 
difficulty of selection has been mainly a difficulty of 
what letters to omit, and a few words may be said 
here of those that appear in this volume. Letter I 
is probably the earliest of Jerome's compositions 
and is interesting by reason both of its stj-le and its 



INTRODUCTION 

subject, which shows that Jerome, Hke Augustine, 
was a sturdy behever in miracles. Letter VII is one 
of the very few in which Jerome mentions his own 
family : it is short and pithy, and may be compared 
with XL, XLIII, XLIV, XLV, which exhibit the 
various sides of his personal character. The first of 
these four shows him as a violent satirist, the second 
as a lover of nature, the third is a graceful letter of 
thanks, and the fourth a vigorous defence of his 
friendships with women, this last being in a way a 
pendant to Letter CXVII. Another group of three 
letters, XIV, LII, LX, is concerned with Heliodorus, 
Bishop of Altinum, the first reproaching him for his 
abandonment of the ascetic life, the second laying 
dowTi for his nephew Nepotian the duties of a clergy- 
man, the third, one of the finest letters, consoling him 
for Nepotian's death. Letter CXXV, treating of 
monasticism, draws a vivid picture of the good and 
bad monk, and the remaining seven letters deal with 
the other of Jerome's two main interests, the position 
of woman in the Christian Church as virgin, wife and 
widow. Three of them, XXXVIII, LXXVII,CXXVII, 
are elaborate portraits of married women, two 
others, CVII, CXXVIII, are concerned with the 
education of girls. Letter LIV instructs a widow in 
the best means of maintaining her widowhood, which 
Jerome holds to be the second of the three degrees of 
chastity ; and Letter XXII, the most famous in the 
collection, is a fervent panegyric of the life of 
virginity. 

(d) Text and Bibliography 

The text used for this translation is that of the 
masterly edition of Isidor Hilberg (Vienna, 3 vols., 

xiv 



INTRODUCTION 

1910-1918). The few divergencies from his text 
are noted where they occur, and for the many 
variant readings of the MSS. the reader is referred to 
his very copious apparatus criticus. 
The chief manuscripts are given by Hilberg thus : 



r 


Lugdunensis 
Parisinus 


6th century 
6th 


G 
K 
H 


Neapolitanus 

Spinaliensis 

Monacensis 


6th-7th century 

8th 

8th-9th „ 


2 
W 


Turicensis Augiensis 
Parisinus 


9th century 
9th „ 


L 


Coloniensis 


9th 


A 


Berolinensis 


9th 


D 
C 


Vaticanus 
Vaticanus 


9th-10th century 
10th 


B 


Berolinensis 


12th 



The Editio Princeps of the Letters appeared in 
Rome, 1470. The next edition of independent value 
is that of Erasmus (Basle, 1516-1520), followed by 
that of Marianus Victorius (Rome, 1560). Then' 
comes the Benedictine edition of Martianay and 
Pouget (Paris, 1693), which like all its predecessors 
was superseded by that of Dominic Vallarsi (Verona, 
1734-1742). This last was reprinted by Migne and 
held the field until in its turn it was superseded by 
the edition of Isidor Hilberg mentioned above. 

Of modern works on Jerome it will be sufficient to 
mention three : ' Hieronymus, Sein Legen und 
Werken ' (O. Zockler, Gotha, 1865), * Saint Jerome' 
(A. Thierrj', Paris, 1867), and ' The Principal Works 
of St. Jerome ' (Fremantle, Oxford, 1893), this last 



INTRODUCTION 

a book to which the present translation is under 
especial obligations. For a general account of the 
early Latin Fathers, including Jerome, two recent 
books may be consulted : ' Latin Christianity ' 
(P. de Labriolle, London, 1925), and ' Fathers of the 
Church ' (F. A. Wright, London, 1928). 

The Editors wish to thank the Rev. Father Sharpe, 
of More Hall, Stroud, for help in finding some 
abstruse references. 



SELECT LETTERS OF 
ST. JEROME 



SANCTI EUSEBIl HIERONYMI 
EPISTULAE 



Ad Innocentium Presbyterum de Septies Percussa 

1. Saepe a me, Innoeenti carissime, postulasti, ut de 
eius miraculo rei, quae in nostram aetatem inciderat, 
non tacerem. Cumque ego id verecunde et vere, ut 
nunc experior, negarem meque adsequi posse 
diffiderem, sive quia omnis humanus sermo inferior 
esset laude eaelesti, sive quia otium quasi quaedam 
ingenii robigo parvulam licet facultatem pristini sic- 
casset eloquii, tu e contrario adserebas in Dei rebus 
non possibilitatem inspici debere, sed animmn, neque 
eum posse verba deficere, qui credidisset in verbo. 

2. Quid igitur faciam ? Quod inplere non possum, 
negare non audeo. Super onerariam navem rudis 
vector inponor, et homo, qui necdum scalmimi in lacu 
rexi, Euxini Maris credor fragori. Nunc mihi 
evanescentibus terris * caelum undique et undique 

^ A member of Jerome's first band of ascetics in Aqiiileia; 
he accompanied Jerome to Antioch where he died in 374. 



SELECT LETTERS OF 
ST. JEROME 

LETTER I 

To IXXOCEXTIUS 

The tvoman struck hy seven strords 
Written a.d, 370 

You have often in the past asked me, my dearest 
Innocent,^ to relate that miraculous happening which 
occiured in my lifetime. To that request I gave 
a modest, and as I now find by trial, a justified 
refusal. I distrusted my power of achievement, both 
because all the language of man is inadequate to the 
praise of heaven, and also because lack of exercise, 
like rust upon the mind, has dried up any slight 
power of eloquence that in the past I might have 
p>ossessed. You on the other hand declared that 
in the things of God one ought to consider not the 
possibihty, but the will, and that he who beheved in 
the Word could not find words fail him. 

\Miat then shall I do? I cannot fulfil this task, 
but I do not dare to refuse it. A notice in ship-craft, 
I am put on board a vessel hea\ily laden ; a poor 
fellow who has never steered a skiff upon a lake, I am 
entrusted to the roar of the Euxine Sea. The land 
fades from sight, around me now ' on every side is 

3 
B 2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

pontuSj' nunc unda tenebris horrescens et caeca 
nocte nimborum spumei fluctus eanescunt. Hortaris, 
ut tumida malo vela suspendam, rudentes explicem, 
clavuxn regam. Pareo iam iubenti et, quia caritas 
omnia potest, spiritu sancto cursum prosequente 
confidam habiturus in utraque parte solacium : si me 
ad optatos portus aestus adpulerit, gubernator puta- 
bor; si inter asperos orationis anfractu s inpolitus 
sermo substiterit, facultatem forsitan quaeras, volun- 
tatem certe flagitare non poteris. 

3. Igitur Vercellae Ligurum civitas baud procul 
a radicibus Alpium sita, olrm potens, nunc raro habi- 
tatore semiruta. Hanc cum ex more consular is 
inviseret, oblatam sibi quandam mulierculam una 
cum adultero — nam id crimen maritus inpegerat — 
poenali carceris horrore circumdedit. Neque multo 
post, cum lividas carnes ungula cruenta pulsaret et 
sulcatis lateribus dolor quaereret veritatem, infeli- 
cissimus iuvenis volens conpendio mortis longos vitare 
cruciatus, dum in suum mentitur sanguinem, accusa- 
vit alienum solusque omnium miser meritus visus est 
percuti, quia non reliquit innoxiae, unde posset 
negare. At vero mulier sexo fortior suo, cum eculeus 
corpus extenderet et sordidas paedore carceris manus 

4 



LETTER I 

sky, on every side the sea ' ; ^ darkness roughens 
the waves and in the black night of the storm-clouds 
the billows show white \vith foam. You bid me 
hoist the swelling sails to the mast top, to let the 
sheets run loose and take the tiller in my hand. To- 
day I obey your command : love is all-powerful, and 
\\'ith the Holy Spirit guiding my course, I may feel 
confident that in either case I shall find comfort. If 
the surging waves drive me to the desired haven, I 
shall be considered a skilful steersman : if my 
unvarnished tale strikes the rocks among the rough 
^^•indings of my story, you may perhaps find me 
lacking in ability but you certainly -snll not be able to 
challenge my good-^\^ll. 

\^erceilae then is a Ligurian city near the foothills 
of the Alps, once a place of importance, but now 
lying half in ruins with only a few inhabitants. 
When the governor paid it his usual \isit, a woman 
and her lover were brought before him accused by 
the husband of adultery, and were by him consigned 
to the dread torture chamber of the public prison. 
There by agony the truth was sought ; and the 
unhappy youth soon gave way. As the blood- 
stained hook furrowed his sides and tore his blackened 
flesh, he determined to escape from his long-drawn 
torments by the short road of death, and lying against 
his own body accused another's as well. So for once 
a miserable wTctch seemed to deserve his fate, for 
he left an innocent person no chance of denying the 
charge brought against her. But the woman for her 
part showed a courage superior to her sex. Her 
body was stretched upon the rack, and her hands 
black with the prison filth were bound with cords 

1 Virgil, Aeneid, III. 193. 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

post tergum vincula cohiberent, oculis, quos tantum 
tortor alligare non poterat, suspexit ad caelum et 
volutis per ora lacrimis : ' Tu,' inquit, ' testis, 
domine lesu, cui occultum nihil est, qui es scrutator 
renis et cordis, non ideo me negare velle, ne peream^ 
At tu, miserrime homo, si interire festinas, cur duos 
interimis innocentes ? Equidem et ipsa cupio mori, 
cupio invisum hoc corpus exuere, sed non quasi 
adultera. Praesto iugulum, micantem intrepida 
excipio mucronem, innocentianx tantum mecum 
feram. Non moritur, quisquis victurus occiditur.' 

4. Igitur consularis pastis cruore luminibus, ut 
fera, quae gustatum semel sanguinem semper sitit, 
duplicare tormenta iubet et saevum dentibus frendens 
similem carnifici minitatus est poenam, nisi confitere- 
tur sexus infirmior, quod non potuerat robur virile 
reticere. 

5. ' Succurre, domine lesu : ad unum hominem 
tuum quam plura sunt inventa supplicia ! ' Crines 
ligantur ad stipitem et toto corpore ad eculeum 
fortius alligato vicinus pedibus ignis adponitur, 
utrumque latus camifex fodit nee papillis dantur 
indutiae : inmota mulier manet et a dolore corporis 
spiritu separato, dum conscientiae bono fruitur, 
vetuit circa se saevire tormenta. ludex crudelis 
quasi superatus adtollitur, ilia dominum deprecatur ; 

6 



LETTER I 

behind her; but the torturer could not chain her 
eyes, and with them she looked up to heaven, and 
cried as the tears rolled down her cheeks : ' Thou, 
Lord Jesus, from whom nothing is hidden, who dost 
search out the reins and the heart. Thou art my witness 
that it is not to save myself from death that I vnsh to 
deny this, but that it is to save myself from sin that I 
refuse to tell a lie. As for you, unhappy man, if 
you are in haste to perish, why take two innocent 
lives ? I for my part long to strip off this hateful 
body, I long to meet death, but not as a woman 
con\-icted of adulter}'. I offer my throat to the 
gleaming sword, I welcome it ^\'ithout a shudder ; 
only I must take my innocence viith me. He does 
not perish, who dies to live again.' 

The governor had been feasting his eyes on the 
gory spectacle, like some wild animal that has once 
tasted blood and is for evermore athirst. At this 
he ordered her tortures to be redoubled, and gnashing 
his teeth in fur}-, threatened the executioner with a 
like fate, unless he made the weaker sex confess a 
crime which manly strength had not been able to 
conceal. 

* O Lord Jesus, bring help : how many punishments 
have been discovered for this one creature of thine ! ' 
Her hair is fastened to the stake, her whole body 
bound more tightly to the rack, and fire is put to her 
feet. The executioner stabs her on both sides, and 
even her breasts are not spared. Still the woman re- 
mains firm : her spirit feels not bodily pain, and enjoy- 
ing still a good conscience she forbids the torture to 
vent its rage upon her. The cruel judge starts from 
his seat as though he were defeated ; she still prays 
to the Lord. Her limbs are torn from their joints ; 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

solvuntur membra conpagibus, ilia oculos ad caelum 
tendit ; de communi scelere alius confitetur, ilia pro 
eonfitente negat et periclitans ipsa alium vindicat 
periclitantem. 

6. Una interim vox : ' Caede, ure, lacera ; non 
feci. Si dictis tollitur fides, veniet dies, quae hoc 
crimen diligenter excutiat; habebo iudicem meum.' 
lam lassus tortor suspirabat in gemitum nee erat novo 
vulneri locus, iam victa saevitia corpus, quod laniarat, 
horrebat : extemplo ira excitus consularis : ' Quid 
miramini,' inquit, ' circumstantes, si torqueri mavult 
mulier, quam perire ? Adulterium certe sine duobus 
committi non potest et esse eredibilius reor noxiam 
ream negare de scelere, quam innocentem iuvenem 
confiteri.' 

7. Pari igitur prolata in utrumque sententia 
damnatos carnifex trahit. Totus ad spectaculum 
populus efFunditur, et prorsus quasi migrare civitas 
putaretur, stipatis proruens portis turba densatur. 
Et quidem miserrimi iuvenis ad primum statim ictum 
amputatur gladio caput truncumque in suo sanguine 
volutatur cadaver. Postquam vero ad feminam 
ventum est et flexis in terram poplitibus super 
trementem cervicem micans elevatus est gladius et 
exercitatam carnifex dexteram totis viribus con- 
citavit, ad primum corporis tactum stetit mucro letalis 
et leviter perstringens cutem rasurae modicae 
sanguinem aspersit. Inbellem manum percussor 



LETTER I 

she only lifts her eyes to heaven. Another confesses 
their conxmon guilt ; she on his behalf denies what 
he confessed, and in danger herself tries to save 
another from danger. 

Her cry was still the same : ' Beat nae, bum me, tear 
me in pieces. I did not do it. If you do not believe 
my words, the day will soon come that will sift this 
charge aright. I have One who \\ill judge me.' By 
this time the torturer was sighing and groaning. 
There was no room for fresh wounds. The man him- 
self shuddered to see the body he had so mangled, 
and even his ferocity gave way. But the governor 
was only roused to fresh rage, and cried out forth- 
with : ' Why does it surprise you, bystanders, that 
a woman prefers torture to death ? Obviously it 
takes two persons to commit adultery, and I consider 
that it is far more likely that a guilty woman should 
deny a crime than that an innocent youth should 
confess one.' 

The same sentence, therefore, was passed upon 
both, and the executioner dragged away his victims. 
The whole populace rushed out to see the sight, 
pouring in dense masses from the crowded gates, so 
that you might have thought the entire city was 
migrating. At the very first stroke of the sword the 
miserable youth's head was cut off, and his headless 
corpse rolled over in its own blood. Then came the 
woman's turn. With bent knees she sank to the 
ground, and over her quivering neck the gleaming 
sword was raised. The executioner brought down 
his well-trained arm with all his might, but directly 
it touched her body the deadly sword was stayed, and 
lightly grazing the skin made a scratch just sufficient 
to draw blood. At his hand's defeat the striker 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

expavit, et victam dexteram gladio marcescente 
miratus in secundos impetus torquet. Languidus 
rursum in feminam mucro delabitur et, quasi ferrum 
ream timeret adtingere, circa eervicem torpet 
innoxium. Itaque furens et anhelus lictor paluda- 
mento in eervicem retorto, dum totas expedit vires, 
fibulam, quae chlamydis mordebat oras, in humum 
excussit ignarusque rei ensem librat in vulnus et : ' En 
tibi,' ait mulier, ' ex umero aurum ruit. Collige 
multo quaesitum labore, ne pereat.' 

8. Rogo, quae est ista securitas? Impendentem 
non timet mortem, laetatur percussa, carnifex pallet ; 
oculi gladium non videntes tantum fibulam vident et, 
ne parum esset, quod non formidabat interitum, 
praestabat beneficium saevienti. lam igitur et 
tertius ictus : s acr amen tum frustraverat trinitatis. 
lam speculator exterritus et non credens ferro mucro- 
nem aptabat in iugulum, ut, qui secare non poterat, 
saltim premente manu corpori conderetur : O omnibus 
inaudita res saeculis ! — ad capulum gladius reflectitur, 
et velut dominum suum victus aspiciens confessus est 
se ferire non posse. 

9. Hue, hue mihi trium exempla puerorum, qui 
inter frigidos flammarum globos hymnos edidere pro 
fletibuS; circa quorum sarabara sanctamque caesariem 



LETTER I 

trembled and looked in amazement at his conquered 
arm : then swinging high the craven blade he pre- 
pared to give a second stroke. Again the sword fell 
feebly on the woman and lay still and harmless on her 
neck, as though the steel feared to touch the accused. 
Thereupon the headsman, panting now with rage, 
flung his cloak back over his shoulders, so that he 
might exert all his strength without hindrance. The 
action loosened the brooch that fastened his garment, 
and it fell to the ground, unnoticed by the man, who 
was poising his sword for another blow. ' Look,' 
cried the woman, ' your gold brooch has fallen from 
your shoulder. Pick it up, or you will lose something 
for which you have worked hard.' 

What, I ask, is the secret of such confidence ? She 
has no fear of the death that threatens her, she 
rejoices in her wounds, it is the executioner who 
turns pale. Her eyes do not see the sword, they only 
see the brooch. It is not enough for her to feel no 
dread of death, she does an act of kindness to her 
savage tormentor. And now the third blow fell, 
only to be rendered vain by the sacred power of the 
Trinity. By this time the soldier was completely 
frightened, and no longer trusting the blade put the 
sword point to her throat, with the idea that though it 
could not cut, the pressure of his hand might force it 
into her body. But the sword — O marvel unheard 
of through all the ages I — bent back to the hilt, and 
in its defeat seemed to look at its master, as if con- 
fessing that it could not strike. 

Now, now let me recall the example of the three 
children, who amid the cool circles of the fire sang 
hymns instead of shedding tears, while the flames 
played harmlessly about their turbans and their holy 

II 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

innoxium lusit incendium. Hue beati Danihelis 
revooetur historia, iuxta quern adulantibus caudis 
praedam suam leonum ora timuerunt. Nunc Susanna 
nobilis fide mentes omnium subeat, quae iniquo 
damnata iudicio sancto spiritu puerum replente 
servata est. Ecce non dispar in utraque misericordia 
domini : ilia liberata per iudicem, ne iret ad gladium, 
haec a iudice damnata absoluta per gladium est. 

10. Tandem ergo ad feminam vindicandam populus 
armatur. Omnis aetas, omnis sexus camificem fugat 
et coetu in circulum coeunte non credit paene 
unusquisque, quod vidit. Turbatur tali nuntio urbs 
propinqua et tota lictorum caterva glomeratur. 
E quibus medius, ad quern damnatorum cura per- 
tinebat, erumpens et ' canitiem immundam perfuse 
pulvere turpans ' : ' Meum,' inquit, ' O cives, petitis 
caput, me illi vicarium datis ! Si misericordes, si 
clementes estis, si vultis servare damnatam, innocens 
certe perire non debeo.' Quo fletu vulgi concussus 
est animus maestusque se per omnes torpor insinuat 
et mirum in modum voluntate mutata, cum pietatis 
fuisset, quod ante defenderant, pietatis visum est 
genus, ut paterentur occidi. 

11. Novus igitur ensis, novus percussor adponitur. 

12 



LETTER I 

locks. Let me repeat again the story of the blessed 
Daniel, before whom the lions crouched with fa-WTiing 
tails, and trembled at the man who was to be their 
prey. Let all men remember once more the grandeur 
of Susanna's faith, who, condemned by an unjust 
judgment, was saved by a lad inspired by the Holy 
Spirit. Not unlike was the mercy of the Lord in both 
cases : Susanna was set free by the judge and saved 
from the sword : this Avoman was condemned by the 
judge but by the sword acquitted. 

So at length the populace took up arms to defend 
the woman. People of every age and everj' sex join 
in driving off the headsman. The whole crowd form 
into a ring about her and hardly one among them can 
beheve his OAvn eyes. The news of their action throws 
the neighbouring city into confusion, and the gover- 
nor's attendants muster in force. From their midst 
the officer charged with the care of condemned 
criminals dashed forth, and as he 

' Poured defiling dust upon grey hair befouled ' ^ 

cried : ' It is my life that you are taking, fellow- 
countrymen. You are making me her substitute. 
Even if you do feel mercy and compassion, even 
if you are set on rescuing a woman condemned 
to death, surely it is not right for an innocent man 
like myself to die.' This lamentable appeal shook 
the people's resolution, and a spirit of gloomy 
torpor soon became universal. Men's feelings were 
strangely changed. It had seemed their duty to 
defend the woman, it now seemed their duty in a 
way to allow her to be executed. 

Accordingly a new sword and a new executioner 

1 VirgU, Aeneid, XII. 611. 

^3 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

Stat victima Christo tantum favente munita. Semel 
percussa coneutitur, iterum repetita quassatur, tertio 
vulnerata prosternitur et— O divinae potentiae 
sublimanda maiestas ! — quae prius fuerat quarto 
percussa nee laesa, ideo paululum visa est mori, ne 
pro ea periret innoxius. 

12. Clerici, quibus id ofScii erat, cruentum linteo 
cadaver obvolvunt et fossam humum lapidibus con- 
struentes ex more tumulum parant. Festinato sol 
cursu occasvun petit, et misericordiam domini celatura 
nox advenit. Subito feminae palpitat pectus et oculis 
quaerentibus lucem corpus animatur ad vitam : iam 
spirat, iam videt, iam sublevatur et loquitur, iam in 
illam potest vocem erumpere : ' Dominus, auxiliator 
meus, non timebo, quid faciat mihi homo.' 

13. Anus interim quaedam, quae ecclesiae sustenta- 
batur opibus, debitum caelo spiritum reddidit, et 
quasi de industria ordine currente rerum vicarium 
tumulo corpus operitur. Dubia adhuc luce in lictore 
^abulus occurrit, quaerit cadaver ocoisae, sepulchrum 
sibi monstrari petit ; vivere putat, quam mori 
potuisse miratur. Recens a clericis caespes ostendi- 
tur et dudum superiecta humus cum his vocibus 
ijigeritur flagitanti : ' Erue scilicet ossa iam condita, 
infer novum sepulchro bellum, et si hoc parum est, 

14 



LETTER I 

appeared. The victim takes her place, protected 
only by the favour of Christ. The first blow makes 
her shake, at the second she totters, the third brings 
her wounded to the ground. O majesty of God's 
power, how wondrous, how sublime I Previously 
she had received four strokes without injurj- : now 
for a little while she seemed to die, merely that an 
innocent man might not suffer in her stead. 

Those of the clergy, whose duty it was to perform 
this office, ^\^:apped the blood-stained corpse in a 
sheet, and then prepared to dig a grave and duly 
cover it over mth stones. The sun sets in haste, and 
night comes on to conceal God's mercy in its darkness. 
Suddenly the woman's breast heaves, her eyes seek 
the light, her body is quickened to life again. She 
sighs, she looks round, she rises, she speaks. At last 
she is able to cry aloud : ' The Lord is on my side. I 
will not fear. What can man do unto me ? ' ^ 

In the meantime an aged female, who had been 
maintained at the expense of the Church, rendered 
back her soul to heaven. So opportunely her corpse 
took the woman's place, and was buried in the tomb. 
Before dawn the devil came on the scene in the 
person of the headsman, who began to look about for 
the body of the woman he had slain, and asked to be 
shown the place where she was buried. He thought 
that she was still alive, for he wondered that she was 
able to die. At his demand the clergy showed him 
the fresh turf and the ground which now for some 
time had been heaped up, crying out : ' Dig up the 
bones forsooth which now have been laid to rest, 
make new war upon her tomb, and if that does not 
satisfy you, scatter her Umbs for vultures and wild 
^ Psalm cxviii. 6. 

15 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

avibus ferisque lanianda membra discerpe; septies 
percussa debet aliquid morte plus perpeti.' 

14. Tali invidia carnifice confuso clam domi mulier 
focilat ur et, ne forte creber ad ecelesiam mediei 
eommeatus suspicionis panderet viam, cum quibus- 
dam virginibus ad secretiorem villulam secto crine 
transmittitur. Ibi paulatim virili habitu veste mutata 
in cicatricem vulnus obducitur. Et — ' O vere ius 
summum summa malitia ! ' — post tanta miracula 
adhuc sagviunt leges. 

15. En quo me gestorum ordo protraxit! lam 
enim ad Evagrii nostri nomen advenimus. Cuius ego 
pro Christo laborem si arbitrer a me dici posse, non 
sapiam, si penitus tacere velim, voce in gaudium 
erumpente non possim. Quis enim valeat digno canere 
praeconio Auxentium Mediolanii incubantem huius 
excubiis sepultum paene ante quam mortuum, 
Romanum episcopum iam paene factionis laqueis 
inretitum et vicisse adversarios et non nocuisse 
superatis ? 

' Verum haec ipse equidem spatiis exclusus iniquis 
Praetereo atque aliis post me memoranda relinquo.' 



1 Terence, Heaut. Tim. 796. 

2 Evagrius, a presbyter of Antioch, later (c. 388) consecrated 
bishop of that see; often referred to by Jerome (Letters III, 
IV, V, and XV) ; also by Basil, Letter CXXXVIII. 

i6 



LETTER I 

beasts to mangle ; a woman who has received seven 
strokes of the sword ought to suffer something more 
than death.' 

The odium of such an action sent the executioner 
away in confusion, and the woman was secretly cared 
for indoors. Finally, lest the doctor's frequent visits 
to the church should give rise to suspicion, she had 
her hair cut short, and in company with some 
virgins was sent to a lonely house in the country. 
There for a little time she put on men's clothes until 
the scars formed over her wound. And yet to-day — 
' How true it is that complete legality is complete 
injustice ! ' ^ — after all these wondrous happenings 
the laws are still raging against her. 

See now to what point the order of events has 
brought me. At last we have reached the name of 
our friend Evagrius.^ If I were to think that I could 
describe all his labours on Christ's behalf, I should 
indeed be foolish. Were I minded to pass them over 
completely, I could not do so, for my voice of itself 
would burst into cries of joy. Who could WTite a 
fitting panegyric of the man whose vigilance put 
Auxentius,^ that pest of Milan, into the grave before 
the time of his death, and enabled the bishop of 
Rome to escape from the entangling snares of 
faction, to overcome his enemies and to show them 
mercy in defeat ? But 

* This I must leave for others to relate, 
Shut out myself by time and unkind fate.' * 

' Auxentius, the Arian bishop of Milan, Ambrose's pre- 
decessor, died 374. 
* Virgil, Geargics, IV. 147. 

17 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

Praesentis tantum rei fine contentus sum : impera- 
torem industria adit, precibus fatigat, merito lenit, 
sollicitudine promeretur, ut redditam vitae redderet 
libertati. 

VII 

Ad Chromatium, Iovinum, Eusebium 

1. NoN debet charta dividere, quos amor mutuus 
copulavit, iiec per singulos officia mei sunt partienda 
sermonis, cum sic invicem nos ametis, ut non minus 
tres caritas iungat, quam duos natura sociavit. Quin 
potius, si rei condicio pateretur, sub uno litterulae 
a^ce nomine indiviso concluderem vestris quoque 
ita me litteris provocantibus, ut et in uno tres et in 
tribus unum putarem. Nam postquam sancto 
Evagrio transmittente in ea ad me heremi parte 
delatae sunt, quae inter Syros et Sarracenos vastum 
limitem ducit, sic gavisus sum, ut ilium diem Romanae 
felicitatis, quo primum Marcelli apud Nolam proelio 
post Cannensem pugnam superba Hannibalis agmina 
conciderunt, ego vicerim. Et licet supra dictus 
frater saepe me visitet atque ita ut sua in Christo 
viscera foveat, tamen longo a me spatio seiunctus 

^ This letter written in a.d. 374 to three young friends 
(who all later became bishops) from the desert of Chalcis, 
where Jerome then was living, gives some details of the 

18 



LETTER I AND LETTER VII 

I am satisfied to record the end of my present story. 
Evagrius seeks a special interview viith the Emperor : 
wearies him with his prayers, secures his sympathy 
by the merits of his case, and finally by anxious care 
wins the day. The Emperor restored to freedom the 
woman who had been thus restored to life. 



LETTER VII 

To Chromatius, Jovixus and EusEsros * 

Fa milt/ affairs 

Those whom mutual love has joined together 
ought not to be separated on a MTitten page. There- 
fore I must not di\dde between you indi\idually the 
words that I owe to you all. Two of you, as brothers, 
are already natural partners, but so strong is the love 
which you feel for one another that affection unites 
the three in a bond that is equally close. Indeed, 
if actual conditions allowed, I would make one 
abbreviation include all your names without division ; 
for your letter challenged me to regard you as 
three in one and one in three. That letter was 
handed to me by the saintly Evagrius in that part of 
the desert which forms a broad boundary line 
between the Syrians and the Saracens, and it filled 
me with joy, a joy surpassing even the exultation 
felt at Rome over the \ictory of Marcellus at Nola, 
when for the first time after Cannae Hannibal's 
proud hosts were defeated. The above-named 
brother often pays me a \isit, and cherishes me in 
Christ like his own flesh ; but he is separated from me 

writer's sister, whose name is unknown, and of the condition 
of the church in Dalmatia. Cf . p. 308, note 2. 

c 2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

non minus mihi dereliquit abeundo desiderium, 
quam adtulerat veniendo laetitiam, 

2. Nunc cum vestris litteris fabulor, illas amplexor, 
illae mecum loquuntur, illae hie tantum Latine 
sciunt. Hie enim aut barbarus seni sermo diseendus 
est aut tacendum est. Quotiensque carissimos 
mihi vultus notae manus referunt inpressa vestigia, 
totiens aut ego hie non sum aut vos hie estis. Credite 
amori vera dieenti : et cum has seriberem, vos 
videbam. Quibus hoc primum queror, eur tot 
interiacentibus spatiis maris et terrarum tam parvam 
epistulam miseritis, nisi quod ita merui, qui vobis, ut 
scribitis, ante non scripsi. Chartam defuisse non 
puto Aegypto ministrante commercia. Et si aliqui 
Ptolomaeus maria clausisset, tamen rex Attalus 
membranas e Pergamo miserat, ut penuria chartae 
pellibus pensaretur ; unde pergamenarum nomen 
ad hanc usque diem tradente sibi invicem posteritate 
servatum est. Quid igitur? Ai'bitrer baiuhim 
festinasse ? Quamvis longae epistulae una nox 
suffieit. An vos aliqua oeeupatione detentos ? Nulla 
necessitas maior est earitate. Restant duo, ut aut 
vos piguerit aut ego non meruerim. E quibus malo 
vos incessere tarditatis, quam me condemnare non 
meriti. Facilius enim negligentia emendari potest, 
quam amor nasci. 

3. Bonosus, ut scribitis, quasi filius IxOvos aquosa 
petit, nos pristina contagione sordentes quasi reguli 



^ I.e. has been baptized. IxOvs = 'irjooSs Xpiaros @€ov Tioj 
'SwTTip. Bonosus, Jerome's foster-brother, studied with him 
at Rome, joined his band of ascetics at Aquileia, and when 
this broke up retired to live as a hermit on a small island 
near Aquileia. 



LETTER Yll 

by a great distance, and his departure always 
causes me as much regret as his coming has brought 
dehght. 

Now I talk to your letter, I embrace it, it carries 
on a conversation ^\-ith me, it is the only thing here 
that knows Latin. In this place an old man has 
either to learn a barbarous jargon, or else to hold 
his tongue. The hand\vTiting I know so well brings 
your dear faces before my eyes ; and then either I 
am no longer here or else you are here "^^■ith me. 
Believe love when it tells you the truth : as I write 
this letter I see you before me. However, I have 
one complaint to make first. Why is it that with 
such stretches of sea and land between us you sent 
me so short a letter ? Perhaps I deserved it ; for as 
you say, I did not WTite first. Paper, I imagine, 
cannot have failed you now that Egypt supplies the 
market. Even if some Ptolemy had closed the seas. 
King Attalus was there to send you skins from 
Pergamum, and by parchment you could have made 
up for lack of paper. The very word parchment as 
it exists to-day, handed down from generation to 
generation, reveals its origin. Well, am I to suppose 
that your messenger was pressed for time r One 
night is sufficient to write a letter in, however long 
the letter be. Were you prevented by some urgent 
business ? Nothing has a greater claim on you than 
affection. Two reasons are left ; either you felt 
disincUned, or else I was not deser\-ing. I prefer to 
accuse you of sloth rather than condemn myself as 
unworthy. The correction of carelessness is an 
easier matter than the birth of love. 

You tell me that Bonosus, Uke a true son of the 
Fish, makes for watery places,^ For myself, I am 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

et scorpiones arentia quaeque sectamur. lUe iam 
calcat super colubri caput, nos serpenti terram ex 
divina sententia comedenti adhuc cibo sumus. Hie 
potest summum graduum psalmum scandere, nobis 
adhuc in primo ascensu flentibus nescio an dicere 
aliquando contingat : ' Levavi oculos meos in montes, 
unde veniat auxilium mihi.' Hie inter minaces 
saeculi fluctus in tuto insulae, hoc est ecclesiae 
gremio, sedens ad exemplum lohannis librum forte 
iam devorat, ego in scelerum meorum sepulchro 
iacens et peccatorum vinculis conligatus dominicum 
de evangelio expecto clamorem : ' Hieronyme, veni 
foras. ' Bonosus, inquam, — quia secundum prophetam 
omnis diaboli virtus in lumbo est — trans Euphraten 
tulit lumbare suum ibi illud in foramine petrae 
abscondens et postea scissum repperiens cecinit : 
* Domine, tu possedisti renes meos ; disrupisti 
vincula mea ; tibi sacrificabo hostiam laudis,' 
me verus Nabuchodonosor ad Babylonem, id est 
confusionem mentis meae, catenatum duxit ; ibi 
mihi captivitatis iugum inposuit, ibi ferri circulum 
innectens de canticis Sion cantare praecepit. Cui 
ego dixi : ' Dominus solvit conpeditos, dominus 
inluminat caecos ' ; et, ut breviter coeptam dis- 
similitudinem finiam, ego veniam deprecor, ille 
expectat coronam. 

4. Soror mea sancti luUani in Christo fructus est : 

^ Psalm cxxi. 1. The so-called "Psalms of degrees," cxx- 
exxxiv, chanted on the steps of the Temple, are taken as a 
type of the Christian's progress. 

'^ Revelation, x. 9, 10. 

^ Jeremiah, xiii. 4-5. 

* Psalm cxxxix. 13. 

* Psalm cxxxvii. 3. • Psalm cxlvi. 7, 8. 

' P. 18. n. 1 : her conversion is again referred to in 

22 



LETTER VII 

still foul with my ancient stains, and like the 
basilisk and scorpion I seek out any place that is dry. 
Bonosus to-day treads the serpent's head beneath his 
heel ; I am still food for the creeping monster who 
by God's decree devours the earth. Bonosus can 
climb to the highest step in the psalms of degrees; 
I am still weeping at the beginning of the ascent, and 
scarcely know whether it will ever be my lot to say ^ : 
' I hfted up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence 
Cometh my help.' Bonosus amid the threatening 
billows of the world sits in the safe retreat of his 
island, the bosom of the Church, and perhaps, like 
John, he is even now eating God's book ; ^ I lie 
in the tomb of my sins, bound in the chains of ini- 
quity, and wait for the Lord's gospel cry : 'Jerome, 
come forth.' Bonosus, I say — for according to the 
prophet all the devil's strength is in the loins — has 
carried his loin-cloth across the Euphrates ^ to hide it 
in a hole of the rock, and after he found it torn he 
has sung : ' O Lord, thou hast possessed my reins. 
Thou hast broken my bonds in sunder. I will offer 
to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving.' * As for me, a 
real Nebuchadnezzar has led me in chains to Babylon, 
that is, to the babel of a distracted mind. There he 
has laid upon me the yoke of captivity, there he has 
fastened an iron ring upon me and bidden me sing 
one of the songs of Sion.^ To him I have made 
reply : ' The Lord looseth the prisoners ; the Lord 
openeth the eyes of the blind.' ^ In fact, to complete 
this comparison of differences in a simple sentence, 
I pray for mercy, Bonosus awaits a crown. 

My sister' is the fruit in Christ of the saintly 

Letter VI, addressed to this same Julian, a deacon of the 
Church at Aquileia. 

23 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

ille plantavit, vos rigate, dominus incrementum 
dabit. Hanc mihi lesus pro eo vulnere, quod 
diabolus inflixerat, praestitit vivam reddendo pro 
mortua. Huic ego, ut ait gentilis poeta, omnia 
etiam tuta timeo. Scitis ipsi lubricum adolescentiae 
iter, in quo et ego lapsus sum et vos non sine timoris" 
transitis. Hoc ilia cum maxime ingrediens omnium 
fulcienda praeceptis, omnium est sustentanda sola- 
ciis, id est crebris vestrae sanctitudinis epistulis 
roboranda, et quia caritas omnia sustinet, obsecro 
ut etiam a papa Valeriano ad eam confortandam 
litteras exigatis. Nostis puellares animos his rebus 
plerumque solidari, si se intellegant curae esse 
maioribus. 

5. . In mea enim patria i:usticiJta±is_Y£niacul9, deus 
venter est et de die vivitur : sanctior est ille, qui 
ditior est. , Accessit huic patellae iuxta tritum 
popuIlVproverbium dignum operculum, Lupicinus 
sacerdos — secundum illud quoque, de quo semel in 
vita Crassum ait risisse Lucilius : ' Similem habent 
labra lactucam asino cardus comedente ' — videlicet 
ut perforatam navem debilis gubernator regat et 
caecus caecos ducat in foveam talisque sit rector, 
quales illi qui reguntur. 

6. Matrem communem, quae, cum vobis sanctitate 

1 Virgil, Aeneid, IV. 298. 

2 For the term " Pope " cf. p. 308, note 2. 

* A priest or bishop of Stridon, a Spaniard by birth, who 
was at variance with Jerome probably because he opposed 
monasticism. 

* Cicero, De Fin. v. 30. 

^ For this proverb (the precise point of which is not clear) 
cf. also Eugenius, Carm. 89 (Migne, Patrolog. Lat., LXXXVII, 
II. Carm. 60, p. 393) : Carduus et spina, cum pastum praebet 
asello, lactuca labris compar est. 

H 



LETTER VII 

Julian. He planted, you must water, the Lord Avill 
give the increase. Jesus has given her to me as 
compensation for the wound which the devil inflicted. 
He has brought her back from death to Hfe. But, 
as the heathen poet says, for her 

' All things, though safe in semblance, I do fear.' ^ 

You know yourselves how treacherous is the path of 
youth, a path where I fell and which you are now 
traversing not without fear. At this moment, 
when she is entering upon it, she needs to be 
supported by all men's encouragement, confirmed 
by all men's adWce ; in other words, strengthened 
by such frequent letters as your saintliness -v^ill 
suggest. Love endureth all things ; and I therefore 
beg you to get a letter from Pope Valerian ^ also, so 
that her courage may be increased. You know that 
a girl's spirit is often fortified by the thought that 
her elders are interested in her. 

As for my own country, it is enslaved to barbarism, 
and men's family God is their belly. People hve 
only for the day, and the richer you are the more 
saintly you are held to be. Furthermore, to use a 
well-worn popular saying, the cover there is worthy 
of the dish ; for Lupicinus ^ is their priest. It bears 
out the proverb which, as Lucihus tells us, made 
Crassus laugh for the only time in his life * : ' When 
an ass eats thistles up, his lips have lettuce like 
themselves. '5 I mean that in my country a crippled 
helmsman steers a leaking ship, a blind man leads 
the bHnd into a pit; as the ruler is, so are the 
ruled. 

I send my greetings to your mother, who is a 

25 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

societur, in eo vos praevenit, quia tales genuit, 
cuius vere venter aureus potest did, eo salutamus 
honore, quo nostis ; una quoque suspiciendas cunctis 
sorores, quae sexum vicere cum saeculo, quae oleo 
ad lampadas largiter preparato sponsi opperiuntur 
adventum. O beata domus, in qua morantur Anna 
vidua, virgines prophetissae, geminus Samuhel 
nutritus in temple ! O tecta felicia, in quibus cernimus 
Macchabaeorum martyrum coronis cinctam martyrem 
matrem! Nam licet cotidie Christum confiteamini, 
dum eius praecepta servatis, tamen ad privatam 
gloriam publica haec accessit vobis et aperta con- 
fessio, quod per vos ab urbe vestra Arriani quondam 
dogmatis virus exclusum est. Et miremini forsitan, 
quod in fine lam epistulae rursus exorsus sim. Quid 
faciam ? Vocem pectori negare non valeo. Epistulae 
brevitas conpellit tacere, desiderium vestri cogit loqui. 
Praeproperus sermo ; confusa turbatur oratio ; amor 
ordinem nescit. 



26 



LETTER VII 

mother to us all, with the deep respect which you 
know I feel. She is your close associate in holy life ; 
but she has one advantage over you in that she is the 
mother of such sons as yourselves. Truly her womb 
may be called golden. I salute your sisters also, for 
they are worthy of universal respect. They have 
triumphed over sex and the world, and now await 
the Bridegroom's coming, their lamps well filled 
with oil. How happy is the house, where dwells 
a ^vidowed Anna, virgins that are prophetesses, and 
twin Samuels ^ reared in the temple precincts. How 
fortunate the roof that shelters for us the martyr 
mother of the martyr Maccabees all girt with 
crowns.2 Though every day you confess Christ by 
keeping his commandments, you have added to 
this private glory the pubhc fame of an open con- 
fession, and it was by your efforts in the past that 
the poison of the Arian heresy was expelled from 
your city.^ Perhaps you may wonder at my begin- 
ning thus afresh at the end of a letter. What am 
I to do ? I cannot preclude my heart from utterance. 
The brief limits of a letter force me to be silent, but 
my longing for your company compels me to speak. 
My words pour out in eager haste ; my language is 
confused and disjointed ; but love knows nothing of 
order. 

^ I.e. Chromatius and Eusebius, cf. sect. v. 
* Cf. 2 Maccabees, vii. ^ Aquileia. 



27 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

XIV 

Ad Heliodorum Moxachum 

1. QuANTO studio et amore contenderim, ut 
pariter in heremo moraremur, conscium mutuae 
caritatis pectus agnoscit. Quibus lamentis, quo 
dolore, quo gemitu te aijsentem persecutus sim, 
istae quoque litterae testes sunt, quas lacrimis 
cemis interlitas. \^erum tu quasi pannilus deligatus 
contemptura rogantis per blandimenta fovisti et ego 
incautus, quid tunc agerem. nesciebam. Tacerem ? 
Sed quod ardenter volebam, moderate dissimulate 
non f>oteram. Impensius obsecrarem ? Sed audire 
nolebas, quia similiter non amabas. Quod unum 
potuit, spreta caritas fecit. Quem praesentem 
retinere non valuit, quaerit absentem. Quoniam 
igitur et tu ipse abiens postularas, ut tibi, postquam 
ad deserta migrassem, in\itatoriam a me scriptam 
transmitterem, et ego facturum receperam, invito, 
iam propera. Nolo pristinarum necessitatum re- 
corderis — nudos amat heremus — nolo te antiquae 
peregrinationis terreat difficultas. Qui in Christo 
credis, et eius crede sermonibus : ' Quaerite primimi 
regniun Dei, et haec omnia adponentur Bobis.' 
Non {iera tibi sumenda, non xirga est ; adfatim dives 
est. qui cum Christo pauper est. 
28 



LETTER XIV 

LETTER XIV 

To Heliodorus 

The ascetic life 

Written a.d. 374 

Your own heart conscious of our mutual affection 
knows with what loving zeal I urged you to let us 
stay together in the desert. This letter even, 
blotted, as you see, with tears, bears witness to the 
grief, the sobs, and the lamentations wherewith I 
accompanied your departure. You, like some spoilt 
child, smoothed over your contemptuous refusal then 
with soft words and I in my folly did not know what 
to do. Ought I to have held my tongue ? I could not 
conceal my ardent desires under a cloak of indiffer- 
ence. Ought I to have pleaded with more urgency ? 
You would not have listened, for you did not love 
me as I loved you. The affection you scorned 
has done the one thing it could. It was not able 
to keep you when present, but it now comes to 
seek you when you are far away. At your departure 
you asked me to send you a letter of invitation when 
I took up my home in the desert, and I promised that 
I would do so. That letter of in\'itation I now send : 
come, and come quickly. Do not think of old ties — 
the desert loves the naked — do not be deterred by 
the hardships of our former travels. As you believe 
in Christ, believe also in his words : ' Seek ye first 
the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be 
added unto you ' ! ^ You need not take scrip nor 
staff; he is abundantly rich who is poor with Christ. 

1 St. Matthew, vi. 33. 

39 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

2. Sed quid ago ? Rursus inprovidus obsecro ? 
Abeant preces, blandimenta discedant; debet 
amor irasci. Qui rogantem contempseras, forsitan 
audies obiurgantem. Quid facis in paterna domo, 
delicate miles ? Ubi vallum, ubi fossa, ubi hiemps 
acta sub pellibus? Ecce de caelo tuba canit, cum 
nubibus debellaturus orbem imperator armatus 
egreditur, ecce bis acutus gladius ex regis ore pro- 
cedens obvia quaeque metit : et tu mihi de cubiculo 
ad aciem, de umbra egrederis ad solem? Corpus 
adsuetum tunica loricae^non sufFert, caput opertum 
linteo galeam recusat, mollem otio manum durus 
exasperat capulus. Audi edictum regis tui : ' Qui 
mecum non est, contra me est ; et qui mecum non 
colligit, spargit.' Recordare tiroconii tui diem, quo 
Christo in baptismate consepultus sacramenti verba 
iurasti : pro nomine eius non te matri parciturum 
esse, non patri. Ecce adversarius in pectore tuo 
Christum conatur occidere ; ecce donativum, quod 
militaturus acceperas, hostilia castra suspirant. Licet 
parvulus ex collo pendeat nepos, licet sparso crine et 
scissis vestibus ubera, quibus nutrierat, mater 
ostendat, licet in limine pater iaceat, per calcatum 

30 



LETTER XIV 

But what am I doing? Why these imprudent 
entreaties for the second time ? A truce to prayers, 
enough of soft words. It is the duty of offended love 
to show resentment. You despised my request ; 
perhaps you will Usten to my reproof. WTiat 
business have you, pampered soldier, in your father's 
house? WTiere now are the rampart, the trench, 
and the winter under canvas ? Lo, the trumpet 
sounds from heaven ! Lo, our general fully armed 
comes forth amid the clouds to subdue the world ! 
Lo, from our king's mouth proceeds a sword t\vice 
sharpened, which cuts down all that is in its path ! 
Are you coming out, pray, from your chamber to the 
battle-field, from the shade to the sun? A body 
that is used to a tunic cannot support a cuirass, a 
head that has worn a Unen hood shrinks from a 
helmet, a hand that idleness has softened is galled by 
a hard sword-hilt. Hear your king's proclamation : 
' He that is not with me is against me, and he that 
gathereth not with me scattereth.' ^ Remember 
the day when you enhsted as a recruit, when, buried 
with Christ in baptism, you took the oath of allegiance 
to Him, declaring that in His name you would spare 
neither father nor mother. Lo, the adversary 
within your own heart is trying now to slay Christ ! 
Lo, the enemy's camp is sighing now for the bounty 
which you received before your service began. 
Though your httle nephew - hang on your neck, 
though your mother with dishevelled hair and torn 
raiment show you the breasts that gave you suck, 
though your father fling himself upon the threshold, 
trample your father underfoot and go your way, fly 



1 St. Matthew, xii. 30. 
* Xepotian. Cf. Letters LIl and LX. 



31 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

perge patrem, siccis oculis ad vexillum crucis vola ! 
Pietatis genus est in hac re esse crudelem. 

3. Veniet postea dies, quo victor revertaris in 
patriam, quo Hierosolymam caelestem vir fortis 
coronatus incedas. Tunc municipatum cum Paulo 
capias, tunc et parentibus tuis eiusdem civitatis ius 
petes, tunc et pro me rogabis, qui, ut vinceres, 
incitavi. Neque vero nescio, qua te nunc dicas 
conpede praepediri. Non est nobis ferreum pectus 
nee dura praecordia, non ex silice natos Hyrcanae 
nutriere tigrides. Et nos per ista transivimus. 
Nunc tibi blandis vidua soror haeret lacertis, nunc 
illi, cum quibus adolevisti, vernulae aiunt : ' Cui nos 
servituros relinquis ? ' Nunc et gerula quondam, 
iam anus, et nutricius, secundus post naturalem 
pietatis pater, clamitat : ' Morituros expecta paulis- 
per et sepeli.' Forsitan et laxis uberum pellibus, 
arata rugis fronte antiquum referens -mamma lallare 
congeminet. Dicant, si volunt, et grammatici : 
' In te omnis domus inclinata recumbit.' Facile 
rumpit haec vincula amor Christi et timor gehennae. 
* At scriptura praecipit parentibus obsequendum ' : 
sed quicumque eos supra Christum amat, perdit 
animam suam. Gladium tenet hostis, ut me peri- 
mat, et ego de matris lacrimis cogitabo ? Propter 

32 



LETTER XIV 

with tearless eyes to the standard of the Cross. In 
these matters to be cruel is a son's duty. 

The day x^ill come later when you shall return in 
triumph to your true country, when, crowned as a 
man of might, you shall walk the streets of the 
heavenly Jerusalem. Then you shall share with 
Paul the franchise of that city, and ask the same 
privilege for your parents. Yes, and for me also 
you shall intercede, who urged you on to victory. I 
know full well the fetters which you will say impede 
you. My breast is not of iron nor my heart of 
stone. I was not born from a rock or suckled by 
Hyrcanian tigers.^ I too have passed through all 
this. Your widowed sister clings to you to-day 
with loving arms ; the house-slaves, in whose 
company you grew to manhood, cry * To what 
master are you leaving us ? ' Your old nurse and 
her husband, who have the next claim to your 
affection after your own father, exclaim, ' Wait for 
a few months till we die and then give us burial.' 
Perhaps your foster mother with sagging breasts 
and wrinkled face may remind you of your old 
lullaby and sing it once again. Your tutors even, if 
they wish, may say with Virgil : ^ 

' On you the whole house resting leans.' 

The love of Christ and the fear of hell easily break 
such bonds as these. 

But, you will say, the Scripture bids us to obey 
our parents. Nay, whosoever loves his parents more 
than Christ loses his own soul. The enemy takes up 
his sword to slay me : shall I think of my mother's 
tears ? Shall I desert from my army because of my 

» Cf. Aeneid, IV. 366. ' Aeneid, XH. 59. 

33 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

patrem militiam deseram, cui sepulturam Christi 
causa non debeo, quam etiam omnibus eius causa 
debeo ? Domino passuro timide consulens Petrus 
scandalum fuit. Paulus retinentibus fratribus, ne 
Hierosolymam pergeret, respondit : ' Quid facitis 
plorantes et conturbantes cor meum? Ego non 
solum ligari, sed mori in Hierusalem paratus sum pro 
nomine domini nostri lesu Christi.' Aries iste 
pietatis, quo fides quatitur, evangelii retundendus 
est muro : ' Mater mea et fratres mei hi sunt, qui- 
cumque faciunt voluntatem patris mei, qui in caeUs 
est.' Si credunt in Christo, faYeant mihi pro eius 
nomine pugnaturo ; si non credunt, ' mortui sepehant 
mortuos suos.' 

4. * Sed hoc,' ais, ' in martyrio.' Erras, frater, 
erras, si putas umquam Christianum persecutionem 
non pati; et nunc cum maxime oppugnaris, si te 
oppugnari nescis. Adversarius noster tamquam leo 
rugiens aliquem devorare quaerens circuit, et tu 
pacem putas ? * Sedet in insidiis cum divitibus in 
occultis, ut interficiat innocentem ; ocuU eius in 
pauperem respiciunt; insidiatur in occulto sicut leo 
in spelunca sua ; insidiatur ut rapiat pauperem ' : 
et tu frondosae arboris tectus umbraculo molles 
somnos, futura praeda, carpis ? Inde me " perse- 
quitur luxuria, inde avaritia conatur inrumpere, 

34 



LETTER XIV 

father, to whom in Christ's cause I owe no rites of 
burial, although in Christ's cause I owe them to all 
men ? Peter with his craven counsel was an offence 
to Our Lord before His passion. Paul's answer to 
his brothers, who would have stayed his journey to 
Jerusalem, was this : ' WTiat mean ye, to weep and 
to break my heart ? For I am ready not to be 
bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name 
of the Lord Jesus.' ^ The battering-ram of affection 
which shakes faith must be beaten back by the wall 
of the Gospel : ' My mother and my brethren are 
these, whosoever do the will of my father which is in 
heaven.' ^ If naen believe in Christ, they should 
cheer me on as I go to fight in His name. If they 
do not believe, ' let the dead bury their dead.' ^ 

All this is well enough, you reply, if one is a 
martyr. Ah, you are mistaken, grievously mistaken, 
my brother, if you think that there is ever a time 
when the Christian is not suffering persecution. At 
this very moment you are being furiously attacked 
when you do not know that any attack is being made. 
' Our adversary as a roaring Bon walketh about 
seeking whom he may devour,' * and do you think 
you are at peace ? ' He sitteth in ambush with the 
rich in secret to murder the innocent, his eyes are 
privily set against the poor. He heth in wait 
secretly as a lion in his den ; he Ueth in wait to catch 
the poor,' ^ and do you, his destined prey, enjoy your 
soft slumbers under the shady covering of a leafy 
tree? On one side self-indulgence pursues me, on 
another avarice tries to break in, on another my belly 

1 Acts, xxi. 13. « St. Matthew, xii. 50. 

» St. Matthew, viii. 22. * 1 St. Peter, v. 8. 

» Paahn x. 8. 

35 
D 2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

inde venter meus vult mihi deus esse pro Christo, 
conpellit libido, ut habitantem in me spiritum 
sanctum fugem, ut templum eius violem, perse- 
quitur me, inquam, hostis, ' cui nomina mille, mille 
nocendi artes ' : et ego infelix victorem me putabo, 
dum capior ? 

5. Nolo, frater carissime, examinato pondere delic- 
torum minora arbitreris idolatriae eriraina esse, 
quae diximus ; immo apostoli disce sententiam, qui 
ait : * Hoc enim scitote intellegentes, quia omnis 
fornicator aut immundus, aut firaudajor, quod est 
idolatria, non habet hereditatem in regno Dei et 
Christi.' Et quamquam generaliter adversum Deum 
sapiat, quidquid diaboli est, et quod diaboli est, 
idolatria sit, cui omnia idola mancipantur, tamen et 
in alio loco speciatim nominatimque determinat 
dicens : ' Mortificate membra vestra, quae in terra 
sunt, exponentes fornicationem, immunditiam et 
concupiscentiam malam et cupiditatem, quae sunt 
idolorum servitus, propter quae venit ira Dei.' Non 
est tantum in eo servitus idoli, si quis duobus digi- 
talis tura comprehensa in bustum arae iaciat aut 
haustum patera fundat merum. Neget avaritiam 
idolatriam, qui potest triginta argenteis dominum 
venditum appellare iustitiam ; neget sacrilegium in 
libidine, sed is qui membra Christi et hostiam vivam 
placentem Deo cum publicarum libidinum victimis 



36 



LETTER XIV 

wishes to be my god in Christ's place : lust urges me 
to drive away the Holy Spirit that dwells within me 
and to \iolate His temple ; I am pursued, I repeat, 
by an enemy who has 

' A thousand names, a thousand arts for ill ' ; ^ 

and shall I, poor wretch, deem myself a conqueror 
when I am being led into captivity ? 

Do not weigh one transgression too closely against u>^if*^ ^ 
another, dearest brother, nor think that the sins I ^tjjuuM 
have mentioned are less heinous than idolatry. Xay, 
listen to the apostle's verdict : * For this we know, 
that no whoremonger or unclean person, nor covetous 
man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the 
kingdom of Christ and of God.' ^ Speaking generally 
all that is of the de\il savours of enmity to God, and 
what is of the de\il is idolatry, since all idols are in 
his service. But in another place the apostle lays 
down a special law, saying expressly : ' Mortify your 
members which are upon the earth, laying aside 
fornication, uncleanness, evil concupiscence and 
covetousness, which are idolatry, for which things' 
sake the >\Tath of God cometh.'^ Idolatry is not 
confined to taking some grains of incense in two 
fingers and throwing them upon an altar fire, nor to 
pouring a libation of ^vine from a bowl. Let him 
deny that avarice is idolatrv', who can assert that 
the selling of the Lord for thirty pieces of silver was 
a righteous act. Let him, but only him, deny that 
there is sacrilege in carnal lust, who has polluted 
the living offering of his body pleasing to God by 
shameful intercourse ■with the victims of pubUc 



Virgil, Aeneid, VII. 337. * Ephesians, v. 5. 

• Cblossians, ill. 5. 



37 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

nefaria QonluyiDne violavit ; non fateatur idolatras eos, 
sed similis eorum, qui in Actibus Apostolorum ex 
patrimonio suo partem pretii reservantes praesenti 
periere vindicta. Animadverte, frater : non tibi 
licet de tuis quicquam habere rebus. ' Omnis,' 
inquit dominus, ' qui non renuntiaverit cunctis 
quae possidet, non potest meus esse discipulus.' 

6. Cur timido animo Christianus es .'' Respice 
cum patre relictum rete, respice surgentem de 
teloneo publicanum, statim apostolum. ' Filius 
hominis non habet, ubi caput reclinet ' : et tu amplas 
porticus et ingentia tectorum spatia metaris ? 
Hereditatem expectas saeculi, coheres Christi ? 
Interpretare vocabulum monachi, hoc est nomen 
tuum: quid facis in turba, qui solus es? Et haec 
ego non integris rate vel mercibus quasi ignaros 
fluctuum doctus nauta praemoneo, sed quasi nuper 
naufragio eiectus in litus timida navigaturis voce 
denuntio. In illo aestu Charybdis luxuriae salutem 
vorat, ibi ore virgineo ad_^ pudicitiae perpetranda 
naufragia Scyllaceum renidens libido blanditur; 
hie barbarum litus, hie diabolus pirata cum sociis 
portat vincla capiendis. Nolite credere, nohte 
esse securi. Licet in morem stagni fusum aequor 
adrideat, licet vix summa iacentis elementi spiritu 
terga crispentur, magnus hie campus montes habet, 

1 Acts, V. 1. 2 St. Luke, xiv. 33. 

38 



LETTER XIV 

vice. Let him not confess that those men were 
idolaters, who in the Acts of the Apostles ^ kept back 
part of the price of their inheritance, and perished by 
an instant penalty, but only if he is himself Uke them. 
Take heed, brother : it is not lawful for you to keep 
anything that you possess. ' Whosoever he be of 
you,' says the Lord, ' that forsaketh not all that he 
hath, he cannot be my disciple ' ! ^ 

Why are you such a timid Christian? Consider 
him who left his father and his nets, and how the 
publican rising from the receipt of custom became 
at once an apostle. ' The Son of man hath not 
where to lay his head,' ^ and are you planning wide 
colonnades and spacious halls ? Are you looking 
for an inheritance in this world, you who are joint- 
heir with Christ ? Consider the meaning of the 
word monk, your proper designation.* ^\^lat are 
you, a soUtary, doing in a crowd .^ These warnings 
of mine are not those of a skilled sailor, with ship 
and cargo intact, addressed to people ignorant of the 
sea ; nay, rather, hke some shipwTecked mariner just 
cast ashore, I address my faltering words to others 
who are about to set sail. On one side of the strait 
the Charybdis of self-indulgence engulfs our salva- 
tion ; on the other the Scylla of lust, with a smile 
upon her girUsh cheek, lures us on to make ship- 
>\Teck of our chastity. To the right is a savage 
coast, to the left the de\'il ^vith his pirate crew 
carrying chains for his future captives. Be not 
credulous, be not over-confident. Though the sea 
be now as smooth and smiling as a pond, though the 
mighty monster's back be scarcely ruffled by a breath 
of air, yet that huge plain contains mountains •within 

' St. Matthew, viii. 20. * Kovaxos, solitary. 

39 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

intus inclusum est periculum, intus est hostis. 
Expedite rudentes, vela suspendite. Crux antemnae 
figatur in frontibus : tranquillitas ista tempestas esjt. 

* Quid ergo ? quicumque in civitate sunt, Christiani 
non sunt ? ' Non est tibi eadem causa, quae ceteris. 
Dominum ausculta dicentem : ' Si vis perfectus esse, 
vade, vende omnia tua et da pauperibus et veni, 
sequere me.' Tu autem perfectiim te esse pollicitus 
es. Nam cum derelicta militia castrasti te propter 
regnum caelorum, quid aliud quam perfectam 
sectatus es vitam ? Perfectus autem servus Christi 
nihil praeter Christum habet; si praeter Christum 
habet, perfectus non est. Et si perfectus non est, 
cum se perfectum Deo fore pollicitus sit, ante mentitus 
est. ' Os,' autem, ' quod mentitur, occidit animam.' 
Igitur, ut concludam, si perfectus es, cur bona patem^ 
desideras ? Si perfectus non es, dominum fefellisti. 
Divinis evangelium vocibus tonat : ' Non potestis 
duobus dominis servire,' et audet quisquam menda- 
cem Christum facere mamonae et domino serviendo ? 
Vociferatur ille saepe : * Si quis vult post me venire, 
abneget se ipsum et toUat crucem suam et sequatur 
me.' Et ego onustus auro arbitror me Christum 
sequi? ' Qui dicit se in Christo manere, debet, 
quomodo ille ambulavit, et ipse ambulare.' 

7. Quodsi nihil habes, ut responsurum te scio, cur 

1 St. Matthew, xix. 21. « Wisdom, i. 11. 

40 



LETTER XIV 

it. There is danger in its depths, the foe is lurking 
there. Stow your tackle, reef your sails, and let the 
cross which the yard-arm makes be fastened on your 
front. That stillness means a tempest. 

Well, you may say, are not all my fellow-to^\-nsmen 
Christians ? Your case is not the same as that of 
other men. Listen to the Lord speaking : ' If thou 
wilt be perfect go and sell that thou hast, and give 
to the poor, and come and follow me.' ^ You 
promised to be perfect. \\'hen you gave up the 
army and made yourself an eunuch for the kingdom 
of heaven's sake, M-hat other purpose had you in \iew 
save the perfect hfe .'' A perfect servant of Christ 
has nothing beside Christ : if he has anything beside 
Christ he is not perfect. And if he is not perfect, 
when he promised God that he would be perfect, his 
first promise was a lie. Now ' the mouth that heth 
slayeth the soul.' ^ To conclude, then, if you are 
perfect why do you hanker after your father's 
property ? If you are not perfect, you have played 
the Lord false. The Gospel thunders with God's 
own voice : ' Ye cannot serve two masters ' ; * and 
does any man dare to make Christ a Uar by serving 
Mammon and the Lord together ? Often does He 
cry : ' If any one will come after me let him 
deny himself and take up his cross and follow 
me.'* Do I think that I am following Christ 
when I load myself with gold ? ' He that saith he 
abideth in Him ought himself also to walk even as 
He walked.' ^ 

I know what your reply will be — ' I pjossess nothing.' 
When you are so well equipped for war, why do you 

» St. Matthew, vi. 24. * St. Matthew, xvi. 24. 

« 1 John, ii. 6. 

41 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

tam bene paratus ad bella non militas? Nisi forte 
in patria tua te arbitraris hoc facere, cum in sua 
dominus signa non fecerit. Et cur id ? Cum auctori- 
tate §ume rationem : ' Nemo propheta in sua patria 
honoremliabet.' ' Non quaero,' inquies, ' honorem; 
sufficit mihi conscientia mea.' Neque dominus 
quaerebat, quippe qui, ne a turbis rex constitueretur, 
aufugit. Sed ubi honor non est, ibi contemptus est ; 
ubi contemptus, ibi frequens iniuria, ; ubi autem 
iniuria, ibi et indignatio ; ubi indignatio, ibi quies 
nulla ; ubi quies non est, ibi mens a proposito saepe 
deducitur; ubi autem per inquietudinem aliquid 
aufertur ex studio, minus fit ab eo, quod tollitur, et 
ubi minus est, perfectum non potest dici. Ex hac 
supputatione ilia summa nascitur, monachum per- 
fecttim-itt patria sua esse non posse. Perfectum 
autem esse nolle dHinq"^^'' est. 

8. Sed de hoc gradu pulsus provocabis ad clericos : 
* An de his aliquid audeaw dicere, qui certe in suis 
urbibus commorantur? ' Absit ut quicquam de his 
sinistrum loquar, qui apostolico gradui succedentes 
Christi corpus sacro ore Gonficiyint, per quos nos 
etiam Christiani sumus, qui claves regni caelorum 
habentes quodammodo ante iudicii diem iudicant, 
qui spQnsu m domini sobria castitate conservant. 
Sed alia, ut ante praestruxi, monachi causa est, alia 
clericorum. Clerici eves pascunt, ego pascor; illi 
de altario vivunt, mihi quasi infructuosae arbori 
securis ponitur ad radices, si munus ad altare non 

1 Cf. p. 412, note 1. 
42 



LETTER XIV 

not take the field? Perhaps you think you can do 
so in your own country, although the Lord could 
do no signs in His. Why could He not ? Hear the 
reason that has His authority : ' No prophet has 
honour in his own country.' ' I do not seek honour,' 
you will say ; ' my own conscience is enough for me.' 
Neither did the Lord seek it ; for when the crowds 
would have made Him king He fled away. But 
where there is no honour, there is contempt ; where 
there is contempt, insult is frequent ; where there is 
insult, there is indignation ; where there is indigna- 
tion, there is no rest; where there is no rest, the 
mind is often diverted from its purpose. Moreover, 
where through restlessness something of zeal is lost, 
zeal is lessened by what it loses, and when a thing is 
lessened it cannot be called perfect. We may sum 
up our account by saying that a monk cannot be 
perfect in his own country ; and not to wish to be 
perfect is a sin. 

Shifted from this position you will appeal to the a^ ^ 
clergy. ' ©^-ye^fi dare to criticize them,' you will i, . . 
say, ' who yet assuredly remain in their own cities ? ' 
Heaven forbid that I should say anything un 
favourable about the men who, as successors to the 
apostles, make the body of Christ for us with holy 
words ; who baptize us as Christians ; who hold 
the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and in a way 
judge us before the Judgment Day ; who fn 
sober chastity guard the bride of Christ. But, as 
I have laid down already, the case of a monk is 
different from that of the clergy. ^ The clergy feed 
Christ's sheep ; I, a monk, am of their flock. The 
clergy Uve of the altar ; if I bring no gift to the altar 
steps, I am a barren tree and the axe is laid to my 

43 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

defero. Nee possum obtendere paupertatem, eum 
in evangelio anum videam duo, quae sola sibi super- 
erant, aera mittentem. Mihi ante presbyterum 
sedere non licet; illi, si peccavero, licet tradere me 
Satanae in interitum carnis, ut spiritus salvus fiat. 

Et in veteri quidem lege, quicumque sacerdotibus 
non o btemperasse t, aut extra castra positus lapida- 
batur a populo aut gladio cervice subiecto con- 
temptum expiabat cruore. Nunc vero inoboed- 
iens spiritali mucrone truncatur aut eiectus de 
ecclesia rabido daemonum ore discerpitur. Quod si 
te quoque ad eundem ordinem pia fratrum blandi- 
menta so llicitant, gaudebo de ascensu, timebo de 
lapsu. ' Qui episcopatum desiderat, bonum opus 
desiderat.' Scimus ista, sed iunge, quod sequitur: 
' Oportet autem huiusmodi inreprehensibilem esse, 
unius uxoris virum, sobrium, pudicum, prudentem, 
Qrnatum , hospitalem,.(d©cihil£in, non vinolentum, non 
percussorem, sed modestum.' Et ceteris de eo, quae 
sequuntur, explicitis non minora in tertio gradu ad- 
hibuit diligentiam dicens : ' Diaconos similiter pudicos, 
non bilingues, non multo vino deditos, non turpi- 
lucros, habentes mysterium fidei in conscientia pura. 
Et hi autem probentur primam et sic ministrent 
nullum crimen habentes. ' Vae illi homini, qui vestem 
non habens nuptialem ingreditur ad cenam ! Nihil 
superest, nisi ut statim audiat : ' Amice, quomodo 

^ 1 Corinthians, v. 5. ^ Deut., xvii. 12. 

44 



LETTER XIV 

roots. I cannot plead poverty, for in the Gospel I 
see the aged woman offering the last two pennies 
she had left. It is not permitted me to sit in the 
presence of a presbyter: it is permitted him, if I 
sin, to dehver me to Satan, for the destruction of the 
flesh that the spirit may be saved. ^ 

Under the old law anyone who refused obedience 
to the priests was put outside the camp and stoned 
by the people, or else he was beheaded and expiated 
his contempt with his blood.- To-day the dis- 
obedient are smitten with the spiritual sword, or 
they are expelled from the Church and torn in 
pieces by the ravening jaws of demons. If the 
pious persuasion of your brethren invites you to take 
clerical orders, I shall rejoice at your present rise and 
fear a future fall. ' If a man desire the office of a 
bishop, he desireth a good work.' ^ We know the 
passage : you must continue the quotation : * Such 
an one must be blameless, the husband of one wife, 
vigilant, sober, chaste, of good behaviour, given to 
hospitality, apt to teach, not given to wine, no 
striker but patient.' * After setting out some 
further details the apostle shows no less care in 
deahng with clergy of the third degree. ' Likewise 
must the deacons be grave,' he says, ' not double- 
tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of 
filthy lucre, holding the mystery of the faith in a 
pure conscience. And let these also first be proved ; 
then let them minister, being found blameless.' " 
Woe to the man who enters the feast without a 
wedding garment ! Nothing remains for him but 
the quick challenge, ' Friend, how earnest thou in 

» 1 Timothy, ill. 1. * 1 Timothy, ilL 2. 

* 1 Timothy, iii. 8. 

45 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

hue venisti ? ' et illo obmutescente dicatur ministris : 
' Tollite ilium pedibus et manibus et mittite eum in 
tenebras exteriores ; ibi erit fletus et stridor dentium.' 
Vae illi, qui acceptum talentum in sudario ligans 
ceteris lucra faeientibus id tantum, quod acceperat, 
reservarit ! Ilico indignantis domini clamore ferie- 
tur: ' Serve nequam, quare non dedisti pecuniam 
meam ad mensam, et ego veniens cum usuris exegis- 
sem ? ' id est : ' deposuisses ad altare, quod ferre 
non poteras. Dum enim tu, ignavus negotiator, 
denarium tenes, alterius locum, qui pecuniam dupli- 
care poterat, occupasti.' Quam ob rem sicut is, qui 
bene ministrat, bonum gradum sibi adquirit, ita, 
qui indigne ad calicem domini accedit, reus erit 
dominici corporis et sanguinis. 

9. Non omnes episcopi episcopi. Adtendis 
Petrum, sed et ludam considera. Stephanum sus- 
picis, sed et Nicolaum respice, quem dominus in 
Apocalypsi sua odit ; qui tam turpia et nefanda 
CQmmentus_est, ut Ophitarum heresis ex ilia radice 
nascatur. Probet se unusquisque et sic accedat. 
Non facit ecclesiastica dignitas Christianum. Cor- 
nelius centurio adhuc ethnjcus dono spiritus sancti 
inundatur ; presbyteros Danihel puer iudicat ; Amos 
l^uboruminora destringens repente propheta est ; 
David pastor adlegitur in regem ; minimum dis- 
cipulum lesus amat plurimum. Inferius, frater, 

1 St. Matthew, xxii. 11. « gt. Luke, xix. 23. 

' The assumed founder of the sect of the Nicolaitanes, 
Rev., ii. 6. 

46 



LETTER XIV 

hither ? ' And as he stands speechless, the servant 
will be bidden : ' Bind him hand and foot, and take 
him away, and cast him into outer darkness ; there 
shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' ^ Woe to 
the man who receives a talent and ties it in a napkin, 
merely keeping what he has received while others 
make a profit ! At once his angry lord's rebuke 
shall strike him : ' Thou wicked servant, wherefore 
gavest thou not my money into the bank, that at 
my coming I might have required mine own -with 
usury ? ' 2 That is, ' You should have laid down at 
the altar what you yourself were not able to carry. 
For while you, a slothful trader, keep a penny back, 
you occupy the place of another who could have 
doubled the money. ' \Mierefore, as he who ministers 
well wins for himself an honourable place, so he who 
comes to the Lord's cup unworthily shall be guilty 
of the body and blood of the Lord. 

Not all bishops are true bishops. You notice 
Peter; but mark Judas as well. You look up to 
Stephen ; but consider also Nicolas ^ whom the Lord 
in His Apocalypse abominates, the man whose foul 
and shameful teachings gave rise to the Ophite * 
heresy. Let a man examine himself and so let him 
come. Ecclesiastical rank does not make a man a 
Christian. The centurion Cornelius was still a 
heathen when he was cleansed by the gift of the 
Holy Spirit. Daniel was but a child when he 
judged the elders. Amos was plucking blackberries 
when in a moment he was made a prophet. David 
was only a shepherd when he was chosen to be king. 
The least of his disciples was the one whom Jesus 
loved most. My brother, sit do^\■n in the lower place, 

* The Ophites were an obscure Gnostic sect. 

47 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

accumbe, ut minore veniente sursum iubearis 
accedere. Super quern dominus requiescit, nisi 
super humilem et quietum et trementem verba sua ? 
Cui plus creditur, plus ab eo exigitur. ' Potentes 
potenter tormenta patientur.' Nee sibi quisquam 
de corporis tantum mundi castitate supplaudat, cum 
omne verbum otiosum, quodcumque locuti fuerint 
homines, reddituri sint pro eo rationem in die iudicii, 
cum etiam convicium in fratrem homicidii sit reatu s. 
Non est facile stare loco Pauli, tenere gradum iam 
cum Christo regnantium, ne forte veniat angelus, 
qui scindat velum templi tui, qui candelabrum tuum 
loco moveat. Aedificaturus turrem futuri operis 
sumptus supptita. ^nfaiuaJaugi sal ad nihilum est 
utile, nisi ut proiciatur foras et a porcis conculcetur. 
Monachus si ceciderit, rogabit pro eo sacerdos ; pro 
sacerdotis lapsu quis rogaturus est ? 

10. Sed quia e scopulosis locis enavigavit oratio 
et inter cavas spumeis fluctibus cautes fragilis in 
altum cumba processit, expanSenda vela sunt ventis 
et quaestionum scopulis transvadatis laetantium more 
nautarum epilogi celeuma cantandum est. O de- 
sertum Christi floribus vernans ! O solitudo, in qua 
illi nascuntur lapides, de quibus in Apocalypsi 
civitas magni regis extruitur ! O heremus Xamiliari 
Deo gaudens! Quid agis, frater, in saeculo, qui 
maior es mundo? Quam diu te tectorum umbrae 



48 



LETTER XIV 

that when one less honourable comes you may be 
bidden to go up higher. Upon whom does the 
Lord rest save upon him that is lowly and of a 
contrite spirit and that trembleth at his words ? The 
more that is entrusted to a man, the more is de- 
manded from him : ' The mighty will suffer torments 
mightily.' ^ Let no man applaud himself because 
of his bodily chastity alone on the day of judgment, 
for men shall render account for every idle word 
they have spoken, and abuse of a brother shall be 
counted as the sin of murder. It is no easy thing to 
stand in Paul's place and to hold the rank of those 
who now reign with Christ. Perchance an angel 
may come to rend the veil of your temple and to 
remove your candlestick from its place. If you are 
thinking of building a tower, reckon up the cost of 
the structure first. Salt that has lost its savour is 
worthless : it can only be cast out and trodden 
underfoot by s^\ine. If a monk falls, a priest will 
intercede for him ; but who shall intercede for a 
fallen priest ? 

My discourse has now sailed clear of the reefs, and 
from the midst of hollow crags with foaming waves 
my frail bark has won her way into deep water. 
Now I may spread my canvas to the wind, and leaving 
the rocks of controversy astern, like some merry 
sailor sing a cheerful epilogue. O wilderness, 
bright with Christ's spring flowers ! O solitude, 
whence come those stones wherewith in the Apoca- 
lypse the city of the mighty king is built I O desert, 
rejoicing in God's famihar presence ! What are you 
doing in the world, brother, you who are more than 
the universe ? How long is the shade of a roof going 

^ Wisdom, vi. 6. 

49 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

premunt? Quam diu fumeus harum urbium career 
ineludit? Crede mihi, neseio quid plus lucis aspicio. 
Libet sareina earnis abiecta ad purum aetheris 
volare fulgorem. Paupertatem times ? sed beatos 
pauperes Christus appellat. Labore terreris? sed 
nemo athleta sine sudoribus coronatur. De cibo 
cogitas ? sed fides famem non sentit. Super nudam 
metuis humum exesa ieiuniis membra 6onlidere ? 
sed dominus tecum iacet. Squalidi capitis horret 
inculta caesaries ? sed caput tuum Christus est. 
Infinita heremi vastitas terret? sed tu paradisum 
mente deambula. Quotienscumque illuc cogita- 
tione conscenderis, totiens in heremo non eris. 
Scabra sine balneis adtrahitur cutis ? sed qui in 
Christo semel lotus est, non illi necesse est iterum 
lavare. Et, ut breviter, ad cuncta apostolum audias 
respondentem : * Non sunt condignae passiones 
huius saeculi ad superventuram gloriara, quae 
revelabitur in nobis.' Delicatus es, carissime, si et 
hie vis gaudere cum saeculo et postea regnare cum 
Christo. 

IL Veniet, veniet ilia dies, qua corruptivum hoc 
et mortale incorruptionem induat et immortali- 
tatem. Beatus servus, quem dominus invenerit 
vigilantem. Tunc ad vocem tubae pavebit terra 
cum populis, tu gaudebis. ludicaturo domino 
lugubre mundus immugiet ; tribus ad tribum ferient 
pectora; potentissimi quondam reges nudo latere 

5° 



LETTER XIV 

to confine you ? How long shall the smoky prison of 
these cities shut you in? Believe me, I see some- 
thing more of light than you behold. How sweet it 
is to fling ofiF the burden of the flesh, and to fly aloft 
to the clear radiance of the sky ! Are you afraid of 
poverty? Christ calls the poor blessed. Are you 
frightened by the thought of toil ? No athlete gains 
his crown -without sweat. Are you thinking about 
food? Faith feels not hunger. Do you dread 
bruising your limbs worn away with fasting on 
the bare ground? The Lord lies by your side. 
Is your rough head bristling with uncombed hair? 
Your head is Christ. Does the infinite vastness of 
the desert seem terrible ? In spirit you may always 
stroll in paradise, and when in thought you have 
ascended there you will no longer be in the desert. 
Is your skin rough and scurfy without baths ? He 
who has once washed in Christ needs not to wash 
again. Listen to the apostle's brief reply to all 
complaints : ' The sufferings of this present time are 
not worthy to be compared with the glory which 
shall come after them, which shall be revealed in 
us.' 1 You are a pampered darhng indeed, dearest 
brother, if you wish to rejoice here with tliis world 
and afterwards to reign with Christ. 

The day, the day will come when this corrupt and 
mortal body shall put on incorruptibility and become 
immortal. Happy the servant whom the Lord then 
shall find on the watch. Then at the voice of the 
trumpet the earth ^\ith its peoples shall quake, 
and you will rejoice, ^\^len the Lord comes to give 
judgment the universe will utter a mournful groan ; 
the tribes of men will beat their breasts ; kings once 

^ Romans, viii. 18. 

E 2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

palpitabunt ; exhibebitur cum prole sua vere tunc 
Ignitus luppiter; adducetur et cum suis stultus 
Plato discipulis ; Aristoteli argumenta non pro- 
derunt. Tunc tu rusticanus et pauper exultabis, 
ridebis et dices : ' Ecce crucifixus Deus meus, ecce 
iudex, qui obvolutus pannis in praesepio vagiit. 
Hie est ille operarii et quaestuariae filius, hie, qui 
matris gfislatus sinu hominem Deus fugit in Aegyp- 
tum, hie vestitus coccino, hie sentibus coronatus, hie 
magus daemonium habens et Samarites. Cerne 
manus, ludaee, quas'4««cas ; cerne latus, Romane, 
quod foderas. Videte corpus, an idem sit, quod 
dicebatis clam nocte tulisse discipulos.' Ut haec 
tibi, frater, dicere, ut his interesse contingat, qui 
nunc labor durus est ? 

XXII 
Ad Eustochium 
1. ' Audi, filia, et vide et inclina aurem tuam et 
obliviscere populum tuum et domum patris tui ; et 
concupiscet rex decorem tuum.' In quadragesimo 
quarto psalmo Deus ad animam loquitur humanam, 
52 



LETTER XIV AND LETTER XXII 

most mighty will shiver with naked flanks ; Jupiter 
with all his offspring ^vill then be shown amid real 
fires ; Plato -w-ith his disciples will be revealed as but 
a fool; Aristotle's arguments will not help him. 
Then you the poor rustic will exult, and say with a 
smile : ' Behold my crucified God, behold the judge. 
This is he who once was wTapped in swaddling clothes 
and uttered baby cries in a manger. This is the 
son of a working man and a woman who served for 
wages. This is he who, carried in his mother's 
arms, fled into Egypt, a God from a man. This 
is he who was clad in a scarlet robe and crowned 
with thorns. This is he who was called a magician, 
a man with a de\il, a Samaritan. Behold the 
hands, ye Jews, that you nailed to the cross. 
Behold the side, ye Romans, that you pierced. See 
whether this is the same body that you said the 
disciples carried off secretly in the night.' 

O my brother, that it may be yours to say these 
words and to be present on that day, what labour 
now can seem hard ? 

LETTER XXII 

To EUSTOCHIUM 

The virgin g profession 

Written a.d. 384 

' Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline 
thine ear; forget also thine own people and thv 
father's house, and the king shall desire thy beauty.' ^ 
So in the forty-fourth Psalm God speaks to the 

^ Psalm xlv. 11. (Vulg. Psalm xliv.) 

53 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

ut secundum exemplum Abrahae exiens de terra sua 
et de cognatione sua relinquat Chaldaeos, qui * quasi 
daemonia ' interpretantur, et habitet in regione 
viventium, quam alibi propheta suspirat, dicens : 
* Credo videre bona domini in terra viventium.' 
Verum non sufficit tibi exire de patria, nisi oblivis- 
caris populi et domum patris tui et came contempta 
sponsi iungaris amplexibus. ' Ne respexeris,' inquit, 
' retro nee steteris in tota circa regione ; in montem 
salvum te fac, ne forte comprehendaris,' Non 
expedit adprehenso aratro respicere post tergum 
nee de agro reverti domum nee post Christi tunicam 
ad tollendum aliud vestimentum tecta descendere. 
Grande miraculum : pater filiam cohortatur : ' Ne 
memineris patris.' ' Vos de patre diabolo estis et 
desideria patris vestri vultis facere ' dicitur ad 
ludaeos et alibi : ' Qui facit peccatum, de diabolo 
est.' Tali primum parente generati nigri sumus et 
post paenitentiam necdum culmine virtutis ascenso 
dicimus : ' Nigra sum et speciosa filia Hierusalem.' 
Exivi de domo infantiae meae, oblita sum patris, 
renascor in Christo. Quid pro hoc mercedis accipio ? 
Sequitur: ' Et concupiscet rex decorem tuum.' Hoc 
ergo illud magnum est sacramentum : ' Propter hoc 
relinquet homo patrem et matrem et adhaerebit 
uxori suae et erunt ambo — in came una ? ' lam 

1 Psalm xxvii. 13. * Genesis, xix. 17, 

3 St. John, viii. 44. * 1 John, iii. 8. 

® Song of Solomon, i. 5. Jerome here alters the text of the 

Vulgate : Nigra sum sed formosa, filiae Jerusalem. Vulg. 

Cant., i. 4. * Ephesians, v. 31. 

54 



LETTER XXII 

human soul, that, following Abraham's example, 
it should go out from its own land and from its kins 
men, and leave the Chaldaeans, that is the demons, 
and dwell in the country of the h\ing, for which 
elsewhere the prophet sighs, saying : ' I trust to see 
the good things of the Lord in the land of the 
living.' ^ But for you it is not enough to go out from 
your own land, unless you forget your people and 
your father's house, so that despising the flesh you 
may be joined to your bridegroom's embrace. 
' Look not behind thee,' the Scripture says, ' neither 
stay thou in all the plain ; escape to the mountain ; 
lest thou be consumed.' ^ It is not right for one 
who has grasped the plough to look behind him or 
to return home from the field, or after putting on 
Christ's tunic to descend from the roof for other 
raiment. A wonder : a father charges his daughter : 
' Do not remember your father.' ' Ye are of your 
father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is 
your will to do.' ^ So it was said to the Jews. 
And in another place. ' He that committeth sin 
is of the deWl.' * Bom of such a parent first 
we are black by nature, and even after repent- 
ance, until we have climbed to virtue's height, we 
may say, ' I am black and comely, a daughter of 
Jerusalem.' ^ 

You may say — I have gone out from my child- 
hood's home, I have forgotten my father, I am bom 
again in Christ. Wliat reward do I receive for this ? 
The context tells you — ' And the king shall desire 
thy beauty.' This then is the great sacrament. 
' For this cause shall a man leave his father and his 
mother and shall be joined unto his wife, and they 
two shall be,' * no longer, as there, ' of one flesh,' 

55 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

non, ut ibi, in una came, sed spiritu. Non est 
sponsus tuus adrogans, non superbus : Aethiopissam 
duxit uxorem. Statim ut volueris sapientiam veri 
audire Salomonis et ad eum veneris, confitebitur 
tibi cuncta, quae novit, et inducet te rex in 
cubiculum suum et mirum in modum colore mutato 
sermo tibi ille conveniet : ' Quae est ista, quae 
ascendit dealbata ? ' 

2. Haec idcirco, mi domina Eustochium — dominam 
quippe debeo vocare sponsam domini mei — ut ex 
ipso principio lectionis agnosceres non me nunc laudes 
virginitatis esse dicturum, quam probasti optime, 
earn cum secuta es, nee enumeraturum molestias 
nuptiarum, quomodo uterus intumescat, infans 
vagiat, cruciet paelex, domus cura sollicitet, et omnia, 
quae putantur bona, mors extrema praecidat — 
habent enim et maritatae ordinem suum, honorabiles 
nuptias et cubile immaculatum — sed ut intellegeres 
tibi exeunti de Sodoma timendum esse Loth uxoris 
exemplum. Nulla in hoc libello adulatio — adulator 
quippe blandus inimicus est — nulla erit rhetorici 
pompa sermonis, quae te iam inter angelos statuat et 
beatudine virginitatis exposita mundum subiciat 
pedibus tuis. 

3. Nolo tibi venire superbiam de proposito, sed 
timorem. Onusta incedis auro, latro vitandus est. 
Stadium est haec vita mortalibus : hie contendimus, 
ut alibi coronemur. Nemo inter serpentes et 
scorpiones securus ingreditur. ' Inebriatus est,' 

56 



LETTER XXII 

but of one spirit. Your bridegroom is not arrogant, 
not haughty ; He has married a woman of Ethiopia. 
As soon as you resolve to hear the ^^■isdom~onHe 
true Solomon, and come to Him, He will avow to 
you all His knowledge ; He will lead you as a king 
to His chamber; your colour vsill be miraculously 
changed, and to you the words will be fitting : ' WTio 
is this that goeth up and hath been made white ? ' ^ 

I am Avriting this to you, Lady Eustochium (I am 
bound to call my Lord's bride ' Lady '), that from the 
very beginning of my discourse you may learn that 
I do not to-day intend to sing the praises of the 
virginity which you have adopted and proved to be 
so good. Nor shall I now reckon up the dis- 
advantages of marriage, such as pregnancy, a 
crying babv, the tortures of jealousy, the cares of 
household management, and the cutting short "By 
death of all its fancied blessings. Married women 
have their due allotted place, if they live in honour- 
able marriage and keep their bed undefiled. My 
purpose in this letter is to show you that you are 
fleeing from Sodom and that you should take warning 
by Lot's wife. There is no flattery in these pages. 
A flatterer is a smooth-spoken enemy. Nor will 
there be any pomp of rhetoric in expounding the 
beatitude of virginity, setting you among the angels 
and putting the world beneath your feet. 

I would have you draw from your vows not pride 
but fear. WTien you walk laden with gold you must 
beware of robbers. For mortals this hfe is a race : 
we run it on earth that we may receive our crown 
elsewhere. No man can walk secure amid serpents 
and scorpions. The Lord says : ' My sword hath 

^ Song of Solomon, viii. 5. (Septuagint.) 

57 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

inquit dominus, * gladius meus in caelo,' et tu pacein 
arbitraris in terra, quae tribulos generat et spinas, 
quam serpens comedit ? ' Non est nobis conluctatio 
adversus camera et sanguinem, sed adversus princi- 
patus et potestates huius mundi et harum tene- 
brarum, adversus spiritalia nequitiae in caelestibus.' 
Magnis inimicorum circumdamur agminibus, hostium 
plena sunt omnia. Caro fragilis et cinis futura post 
modicum pugnat sola cum pluribus. 

Cum autem fuerit dissoluta et venerit princeps 
mundi istius et invenerit in ea nihil, tunc secura 
audies per prophetam : ' Non timebis a timore 
nocturno, a sagitta volante per diem, a negotio 
perambulante in tenebris, ab incursu et daemonio 
meridiano. Cadent a latere tuo mille et decern 
milia a dextris tuis, ad te autem non adpropinquabit.' 
Quodsi eorum te multitudo turbaverit et ad singula 
incitamenta vitiorum coeperis aestuare et dixerit 
tibi cogitatio tua : ' Quid faciemus ? ' respondit 
Heliseus : ' Noli timere, quoniam plures nobiscum 
sunt, quam cum illis,' et orabit et dicet : ' Domine, 
adaperi oculos puellae tuae et videat.' Et apertis 
oculis videbis igneum currum, qui te ad exemplum 
Heliae in astra sustollat, et tunc laeta cantabis : 
* Anima nostra quasi passer erepta est de laqueo 
venantium: laqueus contritus est et nos liberati 
sumus.' 

4. Quamdiu hoc fragili corpusculo continemur, 
quamdiu ' habemus thesaurum istum in vasis ficti- 



^ Isaiah, xxxiv. 5. ^ Ephesians, vi. 12. 

' Psalm xci. 5. * 2 Kings, vi. 16. 

5 Psalm cxxiv. 7. ^ 2 Corinthians, iv. 7. 



58 



LETTER XXII 

drunk its fill in heaven ' ; ^ and do you expect peace 
on the earth, which yields only thorns and thistles 
and is itself the serpent's food ? ' Our wresthng is 
not against flesh and blood, but against the princi- 
pahties, against the powers, against the world rulers 
of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wicked- 
ness in the heavenly places.' ^ We are surrounded 
by the thronging hosts of our foes, our enemies are 
on every side. The flesh is weak and soon it will be 
ashes, but to-day it fights alone against a multitude. 
But when the flesh has been melted away and the 
Prince of yonder world has come and found in it no 
sin, then in safety you shall listen to the prophet's 
words : ' Thou shall not be afraid for the terror by 
night nor for the arrow that flieth by day ; nor for 
the trouble which haunteth thee in the darkness ; 
nor for the demon and his attacks at noonday. A 
thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at 
thy right hand ; but it shall not come nigh thee.* ^ 
If the hosts of the enemy beset you, if the allure- 
ments of sin begin to burn within your breast, if in 
your troubled thoughts you ask — * ^Vhat shall I do ? ' 
Elisha's words ^^'ill give you an answer : ' Fear not, 
for thev that be with us are more than they that be 
with them.'* He will pray for you and will say: 
* Lord, open the eyes of thy handmaid that she may 
see.' And w^hen your eyes have been opened you 
will see a chariot of fire which will carry you, as it 
carried Elijah, up to the stars ; and then you will 
joyfully sing : ' Our soul is escaped as a sparrow out 
of the snare of the fowlers : the snare is broken and 
we are escaped.' ^ 

As long as we are held dowTi by this frail body ; 
as long as we keep our treasure in earthen vessels,* 

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SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

libus ' et concupiscit spiritus adversus carnem et 
caro adversus spiritum, nulla est certa victoria. 
Adversarius noster diabolus tamquam leo rugiens 
aUquid devorare quaerens circuit, ' Posuisti,' ait 
David, ' tenebras et facta est nox. In ipsa pertran- 
sibunt omnes bestiae silvae, catuli leonum rugientes, 
ut rapiant et quaerant a Deo escam sibi.' Non 
quaerit diabolus homines infideles, non eos, qui 
foris sunt et quorum carnes rex in olla succendit 
Assyrius : de ecclesia Christi rapere festinat. Escae 
eius secundum Ambacum electae sunt : lob subver- 
tere cupit et devorato luda ad cribrandos apostolos 
expetit potestatem. Non venit salvator pacem 
mittere super terram, sed gladium. Cecidit Lucifer, 
qui mane oriebatur, et ille, qui inparadiso deliciarum 
nutritus est, meruit audire : ' Si alte feraris ut aquila, 
inde te detraham, dicit dominus.' Dixerat enim 
in corde suo : ' Super sidera caeli ponam sedem 
meam et ero similis altissimo.' Unde cotidie ad eos, 
qui per scalam lacob somniante descendunt, loquitur 
Deus : ' Ego dixi : dii estis et filii altissimi omnes. 
Vos autem sicut homines moriemini et tamquam unus 
de principibus cadetis.' Cecidit enim primus dia- 
bolus, et cum stet Deus in synagoga deorum, in medio 
autem deos discernat, apostolus eis, qui dii esse 
desinunt, scribit : ' Ubi enim in vobis dissensiones et 
aemulationes, nonne homines estis et secundum 
hominem ambulatis ? ' 

5. Si Paulus apostolus, vas electionis et preparatus 
in evangelium Christi, ob carnis aculeos et incentiva 

1 Psalm civ. 20. 

2 Reference doubtful, but perhaps of. Jeremiah xxix. 22. 
» Habakkuk, i. 16. * Isaiah, xiv. 13. 

6 Psalm Ixxxii. 6, « 1 Corinthians, iii. 3. 

6o 



LETTER XXII 

and the flesh lusteth against the spirit, the spirit 
against the flesh : so long can there be no sure 
victory. Our adversary the devil goeth about as a 
roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, David 
says : ' Thou makest darkness and it is night ; 
wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. 
The young lions roar after their prey and seek their 
meat from God.' ^ The devil does not look for un- 
behevers or for those who are without, whose flesh 
the Assyrian king roasted in a pot : ^ it is the Church 
of Christ that he hastens to ravish. According to 
Habakkuk : ' His dainty morsels are of the choicest.' ^ 
He desires Job's ruin, and after devouring Judas he 
seeks power to put all the apostles through his 
sieve. The Saviour came not to send peace upon the 
earth but a sword. Lucifer fell, Lucifer who used 
to rise v^ith the dawn ; and he who was nurtured in a 
paradise of dehght heard the well-earned sentence : 
' Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, thence will 
I bring thee down, saith the Lord.' * For he had said 
in his heart : ' I will exalt my throne above the stars 
of God and I will be like the Most High.' Where- 
fore God every day says to the angels as they go 
down the stairway which Jacob saw in his dream : 
' I have said ye are Gods and all of you are children 
of the Most High. But ye shall die like men and fall 
like one of the princes.' ^ The devil fell first, and 
since God stands in the congregation of the Gods 
and judges them in the midst, the apostle writes to 
those who are ceasing to be Gods : ' \\'hereas there is 
among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal and 
walk as men ? ' ® 

The apostle Paul, who was a chosen vessel set 
apart for the gospel of Christ, because of the spur of 

6i 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

vitiorum reprimit corpus suum et servituti subicit, 
ne aliis praedicans ipse reprobus inveniatur, et 
taraen videt aliam legem in membris suis repugnan- 
tem legi mentis suae et captivantem se in lege 
peecati, si post nuditatem, ieiunia, famem, carcerem, 
flagella, supplicia in semet versus exclamat : ' Infelix 
ego homo, quis me liberabit de eorpore mortis huius ? ' 
tu te putas securam esse debere ? Cave, quaeso, ne 
quando de te dicat Deus : ' Virgo Israhel cecidit : 
non est, qui suscitet eam.' Audenter loquor: cum 
omnia Deus possit, suscitare virginem non potest 
post ruinam. Valet quidem liberare de poena, sed 
non valet coronare corruptam. Timeamus illam 
prophetiam, ne in nobis etiam conpleatur : ' et 
virgines bonae deficient.* Observa, quid dicat : ' et 
virgines bonae deficient ' : quia sunt et virgines 
malae. ' Qui viderit,' inquit, ' mulierem ad con- 
cupiscendum iam moechatus est eam in corde suo.' 
Perit ergo et mente virginitas. Istae sunt virgines 
malae, virgines carne, non spiritu, virgines stultae, 
quae oleum non habentes excluduntur ab sponso. 

6. Si autem et illae virgines virgines sunt, ob alias 
tamen culpas virginitate corporum non salvantur, 
quid fiet illis, quae prostituerunt membra Christi et 
mutaverunt templa Sancti Spiritus in l up anar ? Ilico 
audient : ' Descende, sede in terra, virgo filia 
Babylonis, sede in terra : non est thronus fiUae 



^ Romans, vii. 24. ^ Amos, v. 2. 

» Amos, viii. 13. * St. Matthew, v. 28. 



62 



LETTER XXII 

the flesh and the aUurements of sin, keeps his body 

down and subjects it to slavery, lest in preaching to 
others he himself be found a reprobate. But still 
he sees that there is another law in his members 
tiirhting against the law of his ^vill, and that he is 
-^till led captive to the law of sin. After nakedness, 
fasting, hunger, prison, scourging and torture, he 
turns back upon himself and cries: ' Oh, wretched 
man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body 
of this death ? ' ^ If that is so with him, do you think 
that you ought to lay aside all fear? Beware, pray, 
lest God some day should say of you : ' The %irgin 
of Israel is fallen and there is none to raise her up.' ^ 
I will say it boldly ; though God can do all things, 
he cannot raise a virgin up after she has fallen. He 
is able to free one who has been corrupted from the 
penalty of her sin, but he refuses her the crov^Ti. 
Let us be fearful lest in our case also the prophecy 
be fulfilled: ' Good virgins shall faint.' ^ Note that 
it is of good virgins he speaks, for there are bad ones 
as well. The Scripture says : ' WTiosoever looketh 
on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery 
with her already in his heart.' * Virginity therefore 
can be lost even by a thought. Those are the 
evil \irgins, virgins in the flesh, but not in the spirit : 
foolish \irgins, who, having no oil in their lamps, are 
shut out by the Bridegroom. 

But if even those virgins are virgins, and yet are not 
saved by their bodily virginity when they have other 
faults, what shall be done to those who have prosti- 
tuted the members of Christ and changed the temple 
of the Holy Spirit into a brothel ? Straightway they 
shall hear the words : ' Come down and sit in the dust, 
O virgin daughter of Babylon ; sit in the dust, for there 

63 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

Chaldaeorum ; non vocaberis ultra mollis et delicata. 
Accipe molam, mole farinam, discoperi velamentum, 
denuda crura tua, transi flumina et revelabitur 
ignominia tua et apparebunt opprobria tua,' et 
hoc post Dei Filii thalamos, post oscula fratruelis et 
sponsi ilia, de qua quondam sermo propheticus con- 
cinebat : ' Adstitit regina a dextris tuis in vestitu 
deaurato, circumdata varietate.' Nudabitur et 
posteriora eius ponentur in facie ipsius ; sedebit ad 
aquas solitudinis et posito vase divaricabit pedes 
suos omni transeunti et usque ad verticem polluetur. 
Rectius fuerat homini subisse coniugium, ambulasse 
per plana, quam ad altiora tendentem in profundum 
inferi cadere. 

Non fiat, obsecro, civitas meretrix fidelis Sion, 
ne post trinitatis hospitium ibi daemones saltent 
et sirenae nidificent et hiricii. Non solvatur 
fascia pectoralis, sed statim ut libido titillaverit 
sensum, ut blandum voluptatis incendium dulci nos 
calore perfuderit, erumpamus in vocem : ' Dominus 
auxiliator meus, non timebo, quid faciat mihi caro.' 
Cum paululum interior homo inter vitia et virtutes 
coeperit fluctuare, dicito : ' Quare tristis es, anima 
mea, et quare conturbas me ? Spera in domino, 
quoniam confitebor illi, salutare vultus mei et Deus 
meus.' Nolo sinas cogitationem crescere ; nihil in 

^ Isaiah, xlvii. 1. ^ Psalm xliv. 10. Vulgate. 

' Ezekiel, xvi. 25. cf. Jeremiah, xiii. 26. * Psalm cxviii. 6. 

5 Psalm xlii. 11. 

64 



LETTER XXII 

is no throne for the daughter of the Chaldaeans ; 
no more shalt thou be called tender and delicate. 
Take the millstone and grind meal ; uncover thy 
locks, make bare thy legs, pass over the rivers ; thy 
nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall 
be seen.' V And this, after the bride-chamber of 
God the Son, after the kisses of her kinsman and her 
bridegroom, she of whom once the word of the 
prophet sang : ' Upon thy right hand stood the 
queen in a vestment of gold wrought about ^vith 
divers colours.' ^ But now she shall be made naked 
and her skirts shall be placed upon her face : she shall 
sit by the waters of lonehness and lay down her 
pitcher ; and shall open her feet to every one that 
passeth by and shall be polluted to the crown of her 
head.^ Better had it been for her to have submitted 
to marriage with a man and to have walked on the 
plain, rather than to strain for the heights and fall 
into the depths of hell. 

Let not the faithful city of Sion become a harlot, 
I pray you ; let not demons dance and sirens and satyrs 
nest in the place that once sheltered the Trinity. 
Loose not the belt that confines the bosom. As soon 
as lust begins to tickle the senses and the soft fires 
of pleasure envelop us with their delightful warmth, 
let us break forth and cr}' : ' The Lord is on my side : 
I will not fear what the flesh can do unto me.' * 
When for a moment the inner man shows signs of 
wavering between \ice and virtue, say : ' Why art 
thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou dis- 
quieted within me ? Hope thou in God, for I shall 
yet praise Him who is the health of my countenance 
and my God.' ^ I would not have you allow any 
such thoughts to rise. Let nothing disorderly, 

65 

F 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

te Babylonium, nihil confusionis adolescat. Dum 
parvus est hostis, interfice ; nequitia elidatur in 
semine. Audi psalmistam loquentem : ' Filia 
Babylonis misera, beatus, qui retribuet tibi retri- 
butionem tuam ; beatus qui tenebit et adlidet 
parvulos tuos ad petram.' Quia ergo inpossibile est 
in sensum hominis non inruere notum medullarum 
calorem, ille laudatur, ille praedicatur beatus, qui, 
statim ut coeperit cogitare, interfecit cogitatus et 
elidit eos ad petram : petra autem est Chi'istus. 

7. O quotiens in heremo constitutus et in ilia vasta 
solitudine, quae exusta solis ardoribus horridum 
monachis praestat habitaculum, putavi me Romanis 
interesse deliciis ! Sedebam solus, quia amaritudine 
repletus eram. Horrebam sacco membra deformis, 
squalida cutis situm Aethiopicae carnis adduxerat. 
Cotidie lacrimae, cotidie gemitus et, si quando 
repugnantem somnus imminens oppressisset, nuda 
humo vix ossa haerentia eonlidebam. De cibis vero 
et potu taceo, cum etiam languentes aqua frigida 
utantur et coctum aliquid accepisse luxuriae sit. 
Ille igitur ego, qui ob gehennae metum tali me 
carcere ipse damnaveram, scorpionum tantum socius 
et ferarum, saepe choris intereram puellarum. 
Pallebant ora ieiuniis et mens desideriis aestuabat 

^ Psalm cxxxvii. 9. 

66 



LETTER XXII 

nothing that is of Babylon find shelter in your breast. 
Slay the enemy while he is small : nip evil in the bud, 
and then you ^\'ill not have a crop of tares. Hearken 
to the words of the Psaknist : ' Hapless daughter of 
liabylon, happy shall he be that rewardeth thee as 
1 hou hast served us. Happy shall he be that taketh 
and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.' ^ It 
is impossible that the body's natural heat should not 
sometimes assail a man and kindle sensual desire ; 
but he is praised and accounted blessed, who, when 
thoughts begin to rise, gives them no quarter, but 
dashes them straightway against the rock : ' And 
tlie Rock is Christ.' ^ 

Oh, how often, when I was living in the desert, in 
that lonely waste, scorched by the burning sun, 
which affords to hermits a savage dwelling-place, 
how often did I fancy myself surrounded by the 
pleasures of Rome ! I used to sit alone ; for I was 
filled with bitterness. My unkempt limbs were 
covered in shapeless sackcloth ; my skin through 
long neglect had become as rough and black as an 
Ethiopian's. Tears and groans were every day my 
portion ; and if sleep ever overcame my x-esistance 
and fell upon my eyes, I bruised my restless bones 
against the naked earth. Of food and drink I will 
n(jt speak. Hermits have nothing but cold water 
even when they are sick, and for them it is sinful 
luxury to partake of cooked dishes. But though 
in my fear of hell I had condemned myself to this 
prison-house, where my only companions were 
>( orpions and \vild beasts, I often found myself 
-urrounded by bands of dancing girls. My face was 
jiale \\-ith fasting; but though my limbs were cold 

* 1 Corinthians, x. 4. 

67 

f2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

in frigido corpore et ante hominem suum iam came 
praemortua sola libidinum incendia bulliebant. 

Ita omni auxilio destitutus ad lesu iacebam pedes, 
rigabam lacrimis, crine tergebaui et repugnantem 
carnem ebdomadarum inedia subiugabam. Non 
erubesco infelicitatis meae, quin potius plango non 
esse, quod fuerim. Memini me clamantem diem 
crebro iunxisse cum nocte nee prius a pectoris cessasse 
verberibus, quam domino rediret increpante tran- 
quillitas. Ipsam quoque cellulam meam quasi cogi- 
tationum conscium pertimescebam et mihimet 
iratus et rigidus solus deserta penetrabam. Sicubi 
concava vallium, aspera montium, rupium praerupta 
cernebam, ibi meae orationi locus, illud miserrimae 
carnis ergastulum ; et, ut mihi ipse testis est dominus, 
post multas lacrimas, post caelo oculos inhaerentes 
nonnunquam videbar mihi interesse agminibus 
angelorum et laetus gaudensque cantabam : ' Post 
te in odorem unguentorum tuorum currimus.' 

8. Si autem haec sustinent illi, qui exeso corpore 
solis cogitationibus oppugnantur, quid patitur puella, 
quae deliciis fruitur ? Nempe illud apostoli : ' Vivens 
mortua est.' Si quid itaque in me potest esse 
consilii, si experto creditur, hoc primum moneo, hoc 
obtestor, ut sponsa Christi vinum fugiat pro veneno. 
Haec adversus adulescentiam prima arma sunt 
daemonum. Non sic avaritia quatit, inflat superbia, 

1 Song of Solomon, i. 3. ^ 1 Timothy, v. 6. 

68 



LETTER XXII 

as ice my mind was burning \»ith desire, and the 
tires of lust kept bubbling up before me when my 
riesh was as good as dead. 

And so. when all other help failed me, I used to 
tiing myself at Jesus' feet ; I watered them -with my 
tears, I ^viped them ^\•ith my hair; and if my flesh 
still rebelled I subdued it by weeks of fasting. I do 
not blush to confess my misery ; nay, rather, I lament 
that I am not now what once I was. I remember 
that often I joined night to day with my waihngs and 
ceased not from beating my breast till tranquilUty 
returned to me at the Lord's behest. I used to dread 
mv poor cell as though it knew my secret thoughts. 
Filled •with stiff anger against myself, I would make 
mv way alone into the desert ; and when I came upon 
'-ome hollow valley or rough mountain or precipitous 
cliff, there I would set up my oratory, and make that 
-not a place of torture for my unhappy flesh. There 

nietimes also — the Lord Himself is my \\-itness — 
niter many a tear and straining of my eyes to heaven, 
I felt myself in the presence of the angehc hosts and 
in joy and gladness would sing : ' Because of the 
savour of thy good ointments we will run after thee,' ^ 

If such are the temptations of men whose bodies 
are emaciated with fasting so that they have only 
evil thoughts to withstand, how must it fare with a 
girl who chngs to the enjoyment of luxuries ? Surely, 
as the apostle says : ' She is dead while yet she 
hveth.' 2 Therefore, if I may advise you and if 
experience gives my ad\*ice weight, I would begin 
with an urgent exhortation. As Christ's spouse 
avoid wine as you would avoid poison. Wine is the 
first weapon that devils use in attacking the young. 
The restlessness of greed, the ^vindiness of pride, the 

69 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

delectat ambitio. Facile aliis caremus vitiis : hie 
hostis intus inclusus est. Quocumque pergimus, 
nobiscum portamus inimicum. Vinum et adules- 
centia duplex incendium voluptatis. Quid oleum 
flammae adicimus ? Quid ardenti corpuseulo fomenta 
ignium ministramus ? 

Paulus ad Timotheum : ' lam noli,' inquit, ' aquam 
bibere, sed vinum modicum utere propter stomachum 
et frequentes tuas infirmitates.' Vide, quibus causis 
vini potio concedatur : vix hoc stomachi dolor et 
frequens meretur infirmitas. Et ne nobis forsitan de 
aegrotationibus blandiremur, modicum praecepit 
esse sumendum, medici potius consilio quam apostoli 
— licet et apostolus sit medicus spiritalis — et, ne 
Timotheus inbecillitate superatus evangelii praedi- 
candi non posset habere discursus. Alioquin se 
dixisse meminerat et : ' vinum, in quo est luxuria,' 
et : ' bonum est homini vinum non bibere et carnem 
non manducare.' Noe vinum bibit et inebriatus 
est rudi adhuc saeculo ; et tunc primum plantavit 
vineam : inebriare vinum forsitan nesciebat. Et ut 
intellegas scripturae in omnibus sacramentum — 
margarita quippe est sermo Dei et ex omni parte 
forari potest — post ebrietatem nudatio femorum 
subsecuta est, libido iuncta luxuriae. Prius venter 
et statim cetera ; manducavit enim populus et bibit, 
' et surrexerunt ludere.' Loth, amicus Dei, in monte 



1 1 Timothy, v. 23. ^ Ephesians, v. 18. 

^ Romans, xiv. 21. * Exodus, xxxii. 6. 



70 



LETTER XXII 

delights of ostentation are nothing to this. Other 
\ ices we easily forgo : this is an enemy within our 
walls and wherever we go we carry our foe with us. 
Wine and Youth — behold a double source for 
pleasure's fire. Why throw oil on the flame ; why 
give fresh fuel to a wTctched body that is already 
ablaze ? 

Paul says to Timothy : ' Drink no longer water, 
but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and for 
thine often infirmities.'^ Notice the reasons why 
^\^ne is allowed : it is to cure pain in the stomach and 
to relieve a frequent infirmity and hardly then. And 
lest perchance we should indulge ourselves on the 
ground of illness, Paul recommends that but a httle 
wine should be taken, advising rather as a physician 
than as an apostle — although indeed an apostle is a 
spiritual physician. He was afraid that Timothy 
might be overcome by weakness and might not be able 
to complete the many journeys that the preaching of 
the Gospel rendered necessary. In any case, he re- 
membered that he had said elsewhere : ' Wine, 
wherein is wantonness ' ^ and ' It is good for a man 
neither to drink \vine nor to eat flesh.' ^ Noah took 
wine and became drunken. But h\ing in the rude 
age after the Flood, when the vine first was planted, 
he was unaware perhaps of its inebriating quahties. 
And that you may see the mystery of the Scripture 
in all its fullness — for the word of God is a pearl and 
may be pierced right through — note that after his 
drunkenness there followed the uncovering of his 
thighs: lust was near neighbour to wantonness. 
First the belly is swollen, then the other members 
are roused. ' The people sat down to eat and drink 
and rose up to play.' * Lot, the friend of God, after 

71 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

salvatus et de ;tot millibus populis solus iustus inventus 
inebriatur a filiabus suis ; et licet putarent genus 
hominum defecisse et hoc facerent liberorum magis 
desiderio quam libidinis, tamen virum iustum sciebant 
hoc nisi ebrium non esse facturum ; denique, quid 
fecerit ignoravit; et — quamquam voluntas non sit 
in crimine, error in culpa est — inde nascuntur 
Moabitae et Ammanitae, inimici Israhel qui usque 
ad quartam et decimam progeniem et usque in 
aeternum non ingrediuntur ecclesiam Dei. 

9. Helias, cum lezabel fugeret et sub quercu 
fessus iaceret, veniente ad se angelo suscitatur et 
dicitur ei : ' " Surge et manduca." Et respexit, et 
ecce ad caput eius panis olyrae et vas aquae.' Revera 
non poterat Deus conditum ei merum mittere et ex 
oleo cibos et carnes contusione mutatas ? Heliseus 
filios prophetarum invitat ad prandium et herbis 
agrestibus eos alens consonum prandentium audit 
clamorem: ' Mors in olla, homo Dei.' Non iratus 
est cocis — lautioris enim mensae consuetudinem non 
habebat — sed farina desuper iacta amaritudinem 
dulcoravit eadem spiritus virtute, qua Moyses 
mutaverat Merra. Necnon et illos, qui ad se con- 
prehendendum venerant, oculis pariter ac mente 
caecatos, cum Samariam nescios induxisset, qualibus 
epuhs refici imperarit, ausculta : * Pone eis panem et 



1 Genesis, xix. 16, 35. ^ Deuteronomy, xxiii. 3. 

» 1 Kings, xix. 4-7. * 2 Kings, iv. 40. 



72 



LETTER XXII 

he had been saved upon the mountain as the one man 
found righteous among all those thousands, was 
intoxicated by his daughters.^ They may have 
thought that the human race had ended and have 
acted rather from a desire for offspring than from love 
of sinful pleasure ; but they knew full well that the 
righteous man would not abet them unless he were 
drunken. In fact he did not know what he was 
doing : but although there be no wilfulness in his 
sin the error of his fault remains. As the result he 
became the father of Moab and Ammon, Israel's 
enemies, who ' even to the fourteenth generation 
shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord for 
ever.' ^ 

When Elijah in his flight from Jezebel was lying 
weary and alone beneath the oak tree, an angel 
came and raised him up and said, ' " Arise and eat." 
And he looked, and behold there was a cake and a 
cruse of water at his head.'^ Could not God have 
sent him spiced wine and dainty condiments and 
tenderly basted meats, if He had willed? Elisha 
invited the sons of the prophets to dinner, and when 
he gave them field herbs to eat he heard his guests 
cry out with one accord, 'There is death in the pot, O 
man of God.' •* He, however, was not angry with the 
cooks — for he was not used to very sumptuous fare — 
but threw some meal upon the herbs and thus sweet- 
ened their bitterness by the same spiritual virtue 
wherewith Moses once sweetened the waters of 
Marah. Again, when the men sent to seize the 
prophet had been bhnded alike in eyes and under- 
standing, that he might bring them unawares to 
Samaria, notice the food with which Elisha ordered 
them to be refreshed. ' Set bread and water before 

73 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

aquam ; et manducent ct bibant et remittantur ad 
dominum suum.' Potuit et Danihelo de regis 
ferculis opulentior mensa transferri, sed Ambacum 
messorum prandium portat, arbitror, rusticanum. 
Ideoque et ' desideriorum vir ' appellatus est, quia 
panem desiderii non manducavit et vinum con- 
cupiscentiae non bibit. 

10. Innumerabilia sunt scripturis respersa divinis, 
quae gulam damnent et simplices cibos praebeant; 
verum quia nunc non est praepositum de ieiuniis 
disputare et universa exsequi sui est tituli et volu- 
minis, haec sufficiant pauca de plurimis. Alioquin 
ad exemplum horum potes tibi ipsa colligere, 
quomodo et primus de paradiso homo ventri magis 
oboediens quam Deo in hanc lacrimarum deictus est 
vallem et ipsum dominum fame Satanas temptaverit 
in deserto et apostolus clamitet : ' Esca ventri et 
venter escae, Deus autem et hunc et ilia destruet,' 
et de luxuriosis : 'Quorum deus venter est.' Id 
enim colit unusquisque, quod diligit. Ex quo 
sollicite providendum est, ut, quos saturitas de 
paradiso expulit, reducat esuries. 

IL Quodsi volueris respondere te nobili stirpe 
generatam, semper in deliciis, semper in plumis, non 
posse a vino et esculentioribus cibis abstinere nee 
his legibus vivere districtius, respondebo : ' Vive 
ergo lege tua, quae Dei non potes.' Non quo Deus, 
universitatis creator et dominus, intestinorum 

1 2 Kings, vi. 18 ff. ^ Daniel, i. 8. 

^ Apoc. Bel and the Dragon, 33. 

* Cf. Dan. X. 11, 'a man greatly beloved' (A. and R. V.); 
the Septuagint has dvffp i-mOvfiiwv ; but Jerome here renders 
the Vulgate desideriorum vir after his own fashion. 

5 1 Corinthians, vi. 13. " Philippians, iii. 19. 

74 



LETTER XXII 

them,' he said ; ' let them eat and drink and go 
back to their master.' ^ Daniel too might have had 
rich dishes served him from the king's table,^ but 
it was a mower's breakfast that Habakkuk brought,^ 
which must, methinks, have been but country fare. 
Therefore he was called ' the man of desires,' * be- 
cause he refused to eat the bread of desire or drink 
the wine of lustfulness. 

From the Scriptures we may collect countless divine 
answers condemning gluttony and approving simple 
food. But as it is not my present purpose to discuss 
the question of fasting, and an exhaustive inquiry 
would need a volume to itself, these few remarks 
from the many I could make must suffice. In 
any case the examples I have given will enable you 
to understand why the first man, obeying his belly 
rather than God, was cast doA\'n from Paradise into 
this vale of tears. You will see also why Satan 
tempted Our Lord Himself with hunger in the 
wilderness, and why the apostle cries : ' Meats for 
the belly and the belly for meats, but God shall 
dfestroy both it and them,' ^ and why he says of the 
wanton: 'Whose God is their belly.' ^ Every 
mafi worships what he loves. Wherefore we must 
take all care that abstinence may bring back to 
Paradise those whom repletion once drove out. 

You may choose perhaps to answer that a girl of 
good family like yourself, accustomed to luxury and 
down pillows, cannot do without wine and tasty food 
and would find a stricter rule of life impossible. To 
that I can only say : * Live then by your own rule, 
since you cannot live by God's.' Not that God, the 
Lord and Creator of the universe, takes any delight 
in the rumbling of our intestines or the emptiness of 

75 



SELECT LETIERS OF ST. JEROME 

nostrorum rugitu et inanitate ventris pulmonumque 
delectetur ardore, sed quo aliter pudicitia tuta esse 
non possit. lob Deo carus et testimonio ipsius 
inmaculatus et simplex, audi, quid de diabolo 
suspicetur : ' Virtus eius in lumbis et potestas eius 
in lunbilico.' Honeste viri mulierisque genitalia 
inmutatis sunt appellata nominibus. Unde et de 
lumbis David super sedem eius promittitur esse 
sessurus ; et septuaginta et quinque animae introi- 
erunt Aegyptum, quae exierunt de femore lacob, et 
postquam conluctante Deo latitude femoris eius 
emarcuit, a liberorum opere cessavit ; et qui pascha 
facturus est, accinctis mortificatisque lumbis facere 
praecipitur ; et ad lob dicit Deus : * Accingere sicut 
vir lumbos tuos ' ; et lohannes zona pellicia cingitur 
et apostoli iubentur accinctis lumbis habere in 
manibus evangelii lucernas. Ad Hierusalem vero, 
quae respersa sanguine in campo invenitur erroris, in 
Ezechiel dicitur : ' Non est praecisus umbilicus tuus.' 
Omnis igitur adversus viros diaboli virtus in lumbis 
est, omnis in umbilico contra feminas fortitudo. 

12. Vis scire ita esse, ut dicimus ? Accipe exempla. 
Sampson leone fortior, saxo durior et qui unus et 
nudus mille est persecutus armatos, in Dalilae 
mollescit amplexibus ; David secundum cor domini 
electus et qui venturum Christum sancto saepe ore 
cantaverat, postquam deambulans super tectum 
domus suae Bersabee captus est nuditate, adulterio 
iunxit homicidium. Ubi et illud breviter adtende, 

^ Job, xl. 16. 2 Job, xxxviii. 3. ^ Ezekiel, xvi. 4. 

76 



LETTER XXII 

our stomach or the inflammation of our lungs ; but 
because this is the only way of preser\ing chastity. 
Job was dear to God, his purity and frankness 
witnessed by God's o%\'n testimony ; yet hear what 
he thinks of the devil : ' His strength is in the loins 
and his force is in the navel.' ^ The words are used 
for decency's sake, but the male and female genera- 
tive organs are meant. So the descendant of Da\id, 
destined according to the promise to sit upon his 
throne, is said to come from his loins. The seventy- 
five souls who entered into Egypt are said in the same 
way to have come from Jacob's thigh. And when 
after ^\Testling wiih the Lord the stoutness of his 
thigh shrank away Jacob begat no more children. 
Those who celebrate the Passover also are bidden to 
do so with their loins girded and mortified. God 
says to Job : ' Gird up thy loins hke a man.' ^ John 
wears a leather girdle ; and the apostles are bidden 
to gird their loins before they take the lamps of the 
Gospel. Ezekiel tells us how Jerusalem is found in 
the plain of wandering, all bespattered with blood, 
and he says: ' Thy navel has not been cut.'^ In 
his assaults on men therefore all the devil's strength 
is in the loins : against women his force is in the navel. 
Would you like to be sure that it is as I say ? Here 
are some examples. Samson was stronger than a 
lion and harder than rock ; alone and unprotected he 
chased a thousand armed men ; but in Dalilah's soft 
arms his vigour melted away. David was chosen as 
a man after God's heart, and his lips had often sung 
of the future coming of Christ the Holy One : but as 
he walked upon his housetop he was fascinated by 
Bathsheba's nakedness and added murder to adultery. 
Notice for a moment that even in one's own house the 

77 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

quod nullus sit, etiam in domo, tutus aspectus. 
Quapropter ad Deum paenitens loquitur : ' Tibi soli 
peccavi et malum coram te feci.' Rex enim alium 
non timebat. Salomon, per quem se cecinit ipsa 
sapientia, qui disputavit ' a cedro Libani usque ad 
hysopum, quae exit per parietem,' recessit a domino, 
quia amator mulierum fuit, Et ne aliquis etiam de 
sanguinis sibi propinquitate confideret, in inlicitum 
Thamar sororis Amnon frater exarsit incendium. 

13. Piget dicere, quot cotidie virgines ruant, 
quantas de suo gremio mater perdat ecclesia, supra 
quot sidera superbus inimicus ponat thronum suum, 
quot petras excavet et habitet coluber in foraminibus 
earum. Videas plerasque viduas ante quam nuptas 
infelicem conscientiam mentita tantum veste pro- 
tegere, quas nisi tumor uteri et infantum prodiderit 
vagituSj erecta cervice et ludentibus pedibusincedunt. 
Aliae vero sterilitatem praebebunt et necdum sati 
hominis homicidium faciunt. Nonnullae, cum se 
senserint concepisse de scelere, aborti venena 
meditantur et frequenter etiam ipsae commortuae 
trium criminum reae ad inferos perducuntur, horai- 
cidae sui, Christi adulterae, necdum nati filii parri- 
cidae. Istae sunt, quae solent dicere : * Omnia 
munda mundis. Sufficit mihi conscientia mea. Cor 
mundum desiderat Deus. Cur me abstineam a 
cibis, quos Deus creavit ad utendum ? ' Et si quando 



1 Psalm 11. 4. 2 1 Kings, iv. 33. 

^ I.e. unmarried women who pretend to be widows. 



78 



LETTER XXII 

rves are never safe from danger. Therefore in 
repentance he says to the Lord : ' Against Thee, 
Thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in thy 
^ight.' ^ He was a king and feared no one else but 
God. Solomon too, by whose lips Wisdom herself 
used to speak, who knew of all plants ' from the cedar 
of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall,' ^ 
went back from God because he became a lover of 
women. And that no one may trust in kinship by 
blood, remember that Ammon was fired by an 
illicit passion for his sister Thamar. 

It wearies me to tell how many virgins fall daily, 
what notabilities Mother Church loses from her 
bosom : over how many stars the proud enemy sets 
his throne, how many hollow rocks the serpent 
pierces and makes his habitation. You may see 
many women who have been left ^vidows before 
they were ever wed,^ trying to conceal their 
consciousness of guilt by means of a lying garb. 
Unless they are betrayed by a swelling womb or by 
the crying of their little ones they walk abroad with 
tripping feet and lifted head. Some even ensure 
barrenness by the help of potions, murdering human 
beings before they are fully conceived. Others, 
when they find that they are with child as the result 
i>f their sin, practise abortion with drugs, and so 
frequently bring about their own death, taking with 
them to the lower world the guilt of three crimes : 
'filicide, adultery against Christ, and child murder. 
Yet these are the women who will say : ' To the 
pure all things are pure. My conscience is enough 
for me. A pure heart is what God craves. Why 
should I refrain from the food which God made for 
enjoyment ? ' WTien they wish to appear bright and 

79 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

lepidae et festivae volunt videri et se mero ingur- 
gitaverint, ebriati sacrilegium copulantes aiunt : 
' Absit, ut ego me a Christi sanguine abstineam.' 
Et quam viderint tristem atque pallentem, miseram 
et monaeham et Manicheam vocant, et consequenter ; 
tali enim proposito ieiunium heresis est. Hae sunt, 
quae per publicum notabiliter incedunt et furtivis 
oculorum nutibus adulescentium gregem post se 
trahunt, quae semper audiunt per prophetam : 
' Fades meretricis facta est tibi, impudorata es tu.' 
Purpura tantum in veste sit tenuis, et laxius, ut 
crines decidant, ligatum caput, soccus vilior et per 
humeros maforte volitans, strictae manicae bracchiis 
adhaerentes et solutis genibus fractus incessus : 
haec est apud illas tota virginitas. Habeant istius- 
modi laudatores suos et sub virginali nomine lucros- 
ius pereant : libenter talibus non placemus. 

14. Pudet dicere, pro nefas! Triste, sed verum 
est : unde in ecclesias agapetarum pestis introiit ? 
Unde sine nuptiis aliud nomen uxorum ? Immo unde 
novum concubinarum genus ? Plus inferam : unde 
meretrices univirae ? Eadem domo, uno cubiculo, 
saepe uno tenentur et lectulo, et suspiciosos nos 
vocant, si aliquid aestimemus. Frater sororem 
virginem deserit, caelibem spernit virgo germanum, 
et, cum in eodem proposito esse se simulent, quae- 
runt alienorum spiritale solacium, ut domi habeant 

^ Jeremiah, iii. 3. 
80 



LETTER XXII 

merry, they drench themselves -vWth wine, and then 
joining profanity to drunkenness they cry : ' Heaven 
forbid that I should abstain from the blood of Christ.' 
WTien they see a woman \^ith a pale sad face, they 
call her ' a miserable Manichaean ' : and quite 
logically too, for on their principles fasting is heresy. 
As they walk the streets they try to attract attention 
and with stealthy nods and ^vinks draw after them 
troops of young men. Of them the prophet's words 
are true: 'Thou hast a whore's forehead: thou 
refusest to be ashamed.' ^ Let them have only a 
little purple in their dress, and loose bandeau on 
their head to leave the hair free ; cheap slippers, 
and a Maforte - fluttering from their shoulders ; 
sleeves fitting close to their arms, and a loose- 
kneed walk : there you have all their marks of 
\"irginity. Such women may have their admirers, 
and it may cost more to ruin them because thev are 
called virgins. But to such virgins as these I prefer 
to be displeasing. 

There is another scandal of which I blush to speak ; 
yet, though sad, it is true. From what source has 
this plague of ' dearly beloved sisters ' found its way 
into the Church? \Mience come these unwedded 
wives, these new tj^es of concubines, nay, I ^vill go 
further, these one-man harlots ? They hve in the 
same house with their male-friend ; they occupy the 
same room and often even the same bed ; and yet 
they call us suspicious if we think that anything is 
wrong. A brother leaves his virgin sister ; a virgin, 
scorning her unmarried brother, seeks a stranger to 
take his place. Both alike pretend to have but one 
object : they are seeking spiritual consolation among 

- The ' Maforte ' was a sort of cape, usually of a lilac colour. 

8i 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

carnale commercium. Istiusmodi homines in Prover- 
biis Salomonis arguit Deus dicens : ' Alligabit quis 
ignem in sinu et vestimenta eius non conburentur ? 
aut ambulabit supra carbonis ignis et pedes illius non 
ardebunt? ' 

15. Explosis igitur et exterminatis his, quae 
nolunt esse virgines, sed videri, nunc ad te mihi 
omnis dirigitur oratio, quae quanto prima Romanae 
urbis virgo nobilis esse coepisti, tanto tibi amphus 
laborandum est, ne et praesentibus bonis careas et 
futuris. Et quidem molestias nuptiarum et incerta 
coniugii de domestico exemplo didicisti, cum soror 
tua Blesilla aetate maior, sed proposito minor, post 
acceptum maritum septimo mense viduata est. O 
infehx humana condicio et futuri nescia! Et 
virginitatis coronam et nuptiarum perdidit volup- 
tatem. Et quamquam secundum pudicitiae gradum 
teneat, tamen quas illam per momenta sustinere 
aestimas cruces spectantem cotidie in sorore, quod 
ipsa perdiderit, et, cum difficilius experta careat 
voluptate, minorem continentiae habere mercedem ? 
Sit tamen et ilia secura, sit gaudens : centesimus et I 
sexagesimus fructus de uno sunt semine castitatis. 

16. Nolo habeas consortia matronarum, nolo ad 
nobilium accedas domos, nolo te frequenter videre, 
quod contemnens virgo esse voluisti. Si sibi solent 



^ Proverbs, vi. 27. 
82 



I 



LETTER XXII 

strangers : but their real aim is to indulge at home 
ill carnal intercourse. About such folk as these 
*• >lomon in Proverbs speaks the scornful words : 
^ an a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes 
not be burned ? Can one go upon hot coals and not 
burn his feet ? ' ^ 

Let us therefore drive off and expel from our 

inpany such women as only wish to seem and not 
t(i be virgins. Now I would direct all my words to 
you who, inasmuch as you have been at the beginning 
tlie first \irgin of high rank at Rome, ^^'ill now have 
to labour the more diligently so as not to lose your 
present and your future happiness. As for the 
troubles of wedded life and the uncertainties of 
marriage, you know of them by an example in your 
own family. Your sister Blesilla, superior to you 
in age but inferior in firmness of mil, has become a 
widow seven months after taking a husband. How 
luckless is our mortal state, how ignorant of the future ! 
She has lost both the crown of virginity and the 
pleasures of wedlock. Although the widowed state 
ranks as the second degree of chastity, can you not 
imagine the crosses which every moment she must 
bear, seeing in her sister daily that which she herself 
has lost ? It is harder for her than for you to forgo 
the delights that she once knew, and yet she receives 
"i less reward for her present continence. Still, she 

) may rejoice and be not afraid. The fruit that 
- an hundredfold and that which is sixtyfold both 
-pring from one seed, the seed of chastity. 

I would not have you consort overmuch with 
married women or frequent the houses of the great. 
1 would not have you look too often on what you 
spurned when you desired to be a virgin. Women 

83 
g2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

adplaudere mulierculae de iudicibus viris et in aliqua 
positis dignitate, si ad imperatoris uxorem con- 
currit ambitio salutantium, cur tu facias iniuriam viro 
tuo ? Ad hominis coniugem Dei sponsa quid pro- 
peras ? Disce in hac parte superbiam sanctam, 
scito te illis esse meliorem. Neque vero earum te 
tantum cupio declinare congressus, quae maritorum 
inflantur honoribus, quas eunuchorum greges saepiunt 
et in quarum vestibus adtenuata in filum metalla 
texuntur, sed etiam eas fuge, quas viduas necessitas 
fecit, non quo mortem optare debuerint maritorum, 
sed quo datam occasionem pudicitiae libenter 
arripere. Nunc vero tantum veste mutata pristina 
non mutatur ambitio. Praecedit caveas basternarum 
ordo semivir et rubentibus buccis cutis farsa dis- 
tenditur, ut eas putes maritos non amisisse, sed 
quaerere. Plena adulatoribus domus, plena convivis. 
Clerici ipsi, quos et magisterio esse oportuerat et 
timori, osculantur capita patronarum et extenta 
manu, ut benedicere eos putes velle, si nescias, 
pretium accipiunt salutandi. Illae interim, quae 
sacerdotes suo vident indigere praesidio, eriguntur 
in superbiam et, quia maritorum expertae dominatum 
viduitatis praeferunt libertatem, castae vocantur et 
nonnae et post cenam dubiam apostolos somniant. 

17. Sint tibi sociae, quas videris quod ieiunia 
84 



LETTER XXII 

of the world, you know, plume themselves if their 
husband is a judge or holds some high position. 
E\ en if an eager crowd of visitors flocks to greet the 
l-.mperor's >\ife, why should you insult your Husband ? 
^^ hy should you, who are God's bride, hasten to 
\ i^it the wife of a mortal man ? In this regard you 
must learn a holy pride ; know that you are better 
than they. And not only do I desire you to avoid the 
company of those who are puffed up by their husbands' 
honours, who surround themselves ^^■ith troops of 
eunuchs, and wear robes in-wTought with fine threads 
of gold : you must also shun such women as are 
widows from compulsion, not choice. Not that 
they ought to have desired their husbands' death; 
but they have been unwilling to accept their oppor- 
tunity for chastity. As it is, they only change their 
dress : their old love of show remains unchanged. 

Look at them as they ride in their roomy litters 
with a row of eunuchs walking in front : see their 
red lips and their plump sleek skins : you would not 
think they had lost a husband, you would fancy they 
were looking for one. Their houses are full of 
flatterers, full of guests. The very clergy, whose 
teaching and authority ought to inspire respect, 
kiss these ladies on the forehead, and then stretch 
out their hand — you would think, if you did not 
know, that they were giving a benediction — to 
receive the fee for their \isit. The women meanwhile, 
seeing that priests need their help, are hfted up with 
pride. They know by experience what a husband's 
rule is hke, and they prefer their hberty as -widows. 
They call themselves chaste nuns, and after a 
diversified dinner they dream apostles. 

Let your companions be those who are pale of face 

85 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

tenuant, quibus pallor in facie est, quas et aetas 
probavit et vita, quae cotidie in cordibus canunt : 
Ubi pascis ? ubi cubas in meridie ? ' Quae ex 
affectu dicunt : ' Cupio dissolui et esse cum Christo.' 
Esto subiecta parentibus, imitare sponsum tuum. 
Rarus sit egressus in publicum : martyres tibi quaer- 
antur in cubiculo tuo. Nunquam causa deerit 
procedendi, si semper, quando necesse est, pro- 
cessura sis. Moderatus cibus et nunquam venter 
repletus. Plurimae quippe sunt, quae, cum vino 
sunt sobriae, ciborum largitate sunt ebriae. Ad 
orationem tibi nocte surgenti non indigestio ructum 
faciat, sed inanitas. Crebrius lege et disce quam 
plurima. Tenenti codicem somnus obrepat et 
cadentem faciem pagina sancta suscipiat. Sint tibi 
cotidiana ieiunia et refectio satietatem fugiens. 
Nihil prodest biduo triduoque transmisso vacuum 
portare ventrem, si pariter obruitur, si compensatur 
saturitate ieiunium. Ilico mens repleta torpes- 
cit et inrigata humus spinas libidinum germinat. Si 
quando senseris exteriorem hominem florem adules- 
centiae suspirare et accepto cibo cum te in lectulo 
conpositam dulcis libidinum pompa concusserit, 
arripe scutum fidei, in quo ignitae diaboli extin- 
guuntur sagittae. ' Omnes adulterantes, quasi 
clibanus ' corda eorum. 

At tu Christi comitata vestigiis et sermonibus eius 
intenta die : ' Nonne cor nostrum erat ardens in via, 



^ Song of Solomon, i. 7. 
2 Philippians, i. 23. 

' A visit to a martyr's shrine was often made an excuse 
for going abroad. 
* Hosea, vii. 4. 

86 



LETTER XXII 

and thin with fasting, approved by their years and 
their conduct, who daily within their hearts sing the 
words : ' Tell me where thou feedest thy flock, 
where thou makest it to rest at noon,' ^ and lo\ingly 
•~ay : ' I have a desire to depart and to be with 
Christ.' ^ Follow your Husband's example, and like 
Him be subject to your parents. Walk not often 
abroad, and if you wish the help of the martyrs seek 
it in your own chamber.^ You will never lack a 
reason for going out if you always go out when there 
i-^ need. Take food in moderation and never over- 
load your stomach. Many women are temperate 
over wine, but intemperate as to the amount of food 
they take. When you rise at night to pray, let any 
uneasiness of breath be caused not by indigestion but 
by an empty stomach. Read often and learn all you 
can. Let sleep steal upon you >vith a book In your 
haTid7~and let the sacred page catch your drooping 
headr "Let your fasts be of daily occurrence, and 
leTrefreshment ever avoid satiety. It is of no avail 
to carrv' an empty stomach for two or three days if 
that fast is to be made up for by a clogging repletion. 
The mind when cloyed straightway grows sluggish 
and the watered ground puts forth the thorns of lust. 
If ever you feel that your outward being is sighing 
for the bloom of youth, and if, as you lie on your 
couch after a meal, you are shaken by the \ision of 
lust's alluring train, then catch up the shield of 
faith, and it will quench the de^i^s fiery darts. 
' They are all adulterers,' says the prophet, ' they 
have made their hearts hke an oven.' * 

But do you keep close to Christ's footsteps and be 
ever intent upon his words. Say to yourself: ' Did 
not our heart burn within us by the way, while 

87 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

cum aperiret nobis lesus scripturas ? ' et illud : 
' Ignitum eloquium tuum, et servus tuus dilexit illud.' 
Difficile est humanam animam non amare et necesse 
est, ut in quoscumque mens nostra trahatur afFectus. 
Carnis amor spiritus amore superatur ; desiderium 
desiderio restinguitur. Quidquid inde minuitur, hinc 
crescit. Quin potius semper ingemina : ' Super lec- 
tum meum in noctibus quaesivi, quern dilexit anima 
mea.* ' Mortificate,' ait apostolus, ' membra vestra 
super terram.' Unde et ipse confidenter aiebat : 
' Vivo autem iam non ego, vivit autem in me Christus.' 
Qui mortificavit membra sua et in imagine peram- 
bulabat, non timet dicere : ' " Factus sum tanquam 
uter in pruina " ; quidquid enim in me fuit umoris, 
excoctum est,' et : ' Infirmata sunt in ieiunio genua 
mea,' et : ' Oblitus sum manducare panem meum ; 
a voce gemitus mei adhaesit os meum carni meae.' 

18. Esto cicada noctium. Lava per singulas noctes 
lectum tuum, in lacrimis stratum tuum riga. Vigila 
et fiere sicut passer in solitudine. Psalle spiritu, 
psalle et mente : ' Benedic, anima mea, dominum 
et ne obliviscaris omnes retributiones eius, qui pro- 
pitiatur cunctis iniquitatibus tuis, qui sanat omnes 
infirmitates tuas et redimit ex corruptione vitam 
tuam.' Quis nostrum ex corde dicere potest: 
' Quia cinerem quasi panem manducavi et potionem 
meam cum fletu miscebam ' ? An non flendum est, 

1 St. Luke, xxiv. 32. ^ Psalm cxix. 140 (cviii. Vulg.). 

3 Song of Solomon, iii. 1. * Colossians, iii. 5. 
5 Galatians, ii. 20. 

* Psalm cxix. 83. A. V. has smoke ior frost. Jerome quotes 
the Vulgate (cxviii.). ^ Psalm cix.24. * Psalm cii. 5. 

• I.e. Be as active at night as the grasshopper is in the day- 



LETTER XXIIi 

Jesus opened to us the Scriptures?'^ and again: 
' Thy word is tried to the uttermost, and thy servant 
loveth it.' 2 It is hard for the human soul not to love 
something, and our mind of necessity must be drawn 
to some sort of affection. Carnal love is overcome 
by spiritual love : desire is quenched by desire : 
what is taken from the one is added to the other. 
Nay rather, as you He upon your couch, say these 
words and repeat them continually : ' By night 
have I sought Him whom my soul loveth.' ^ 

Mortify your members on earth,' * says the 
apostle ; and because he did so himself, he could 
afterwards boldly say : ' I live, yet not I but Christ 
I'veth in me.' ^ He who mortifies his members, and 

- he walks through this world knows it to be vanity, 
1^ not afraid to say: '" I am become Uke a leather 
bottle in the frost. "^ For whatever there was in me of 
the moisture of lust has dried away.' And again: 

My knees are weak with fasting. "^ • I forget to eat 
my bread. By reason of the voice of my groaning 
my bones cleave to my skin.' ^ 

Be thou the grasshopper of the night. ^ Wash 
your bed and water your couch nightly ^\^th 
tears. Keep vigil and be like the sparrow alone 
upon the housetop. Let your spirit be your harp, 
and let your mind join in the psalm : ' Bless the 
Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits ; 
who forgiveth all thine iniquities ; who healeth all 
thy diseases ; who redeemeth thy life from de- 
struction.' ^*' Who of us can say from our heart: 
' I have eaten ashes hke bread and mingled my 
drink with weeping ' ? ^^ And yet ought I not to 

time when he is always heard. Cf. Virg. Ec. II. 13, sole sub 
ardenti resonant arbusta dead is. 

1" Psalm ciii. 2. ii Psalm cii. 9. 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

non gemendum, cum me rursus serpens invitat ad 
inlicitos cibos ? cum de paradiso virginitatis eiectum 
tunicis vult vestire pelliciis, quas Helias ad para- 
disum rediens proiecit in terram ? Quid mihi et 
voluptati, quae in brevi perit ? Quid cum hoc dulci 
et mortifero carmine sirenarum ? Nolo illi subiacere 
sententiae, quae in hominem est lata damnatum : 
in doloribus et anxietatibus paries, mulier — lex ista 
non mea est — ' Et ad virum conversio tua.' Sit 
conversio illius ad maritum, quae virum non habet 
Christum, et ad extremum ' morte morieris ' finis 
iste coniugii, Meum propositum sine sexu est. 
Habeant nuptiae suum tempus et titulum : mihi 
virginitas in Maria dedicatur et Christo. 

19. Dicat aliquis : ' Et audes nuptiis detrahere, 
quae a domino benedictae sunt ? ' Non est detrahere 
nuptiis, cum illis virginitas antefertur. Nemo malum 
bono conparat. Glorientur et nuptae, cum a virgini- 
bus sunt secundae. * Crescite,' ait, ' et multiph- 
camini et replete terram.' Crescat et multiplicetur 
ille, qui inpleturus est terram : tuum agmen in caelis 
est. ' Crescite et multiplicamini.' Hoc expletur 
edictum post paradisum et nuditatem et ficus folia 
auspicantia pruriginem nuptiarum. Nubat et nuba- 
tur ille, qui in sudore faciei comedit panem suum, cui 
terra tribulos generat et spinas, cuius herba sentibus 



^ Genesis, iii. 16. ^ Genesis, ii. 17. 

3 Genesis, i. 28. 



90 



LETTER XXII 

weep and groan when the serpent again inWtes me 

tS take forbidden frviit, and when, after dri\-ing us 

from the Paradise of \Trguiity, he tries to clothe us 
in tunics of skin, such as Ebjah on his retiun to 
Paradise threw upon the ground ? What have I to 
do with the short-Hved pleasures of sense ? WTiat 
have I to do with the sirens' sweet and deadly songs ? 
You must not be subject to the sentence whereby 
condemnation was passed upon mankind : ' In pain 
and in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children.' ^ 
Sav to yourself : ' That is a Law for a married woman, 
but not for me.' * And thy desire shall be to thy 
husband.' Say to yourself: ' Let her desire be to 
her husband who has not a Husband in Christ ; ' and 
at the last ' Thou shalt surely die.' ^ Say once more : 
'_Death js jhe end of marriage. But my vows are ,,.^_^ 
i]idep£ndent._or"sex^ Let married women keep to j 
their own place^nd title : for me ^■irginity is con- | 
secrated in the persons of Mar}' and of Christ.' -^ 

Some one may say : ' Do you dare to dis- 
parage wedlock, a state which God has blessed? ' 
It is not disparaging wedlock to prefer virginity. 
No one can make a comparison between two 
things, if one is good and the other CN^il. Let 
married women take their pride in coming next after 
virgins. ' Be fruitful,' God said, ' and multiply 
and replenish the earth.' ^ Let him then be fruitful 
and multiply who intends to replenish the earth : 
but yomr company is in heaven. The command to 
increase and multiply is fulfilled after the expulsion 
from Paradise, after the recognition of nakedness, 
after the putting on of the fig leaves which augured 
the approach of marital desire. Let them marry 
and be given in marriage who eat their bread in the 
sweat of their brow, whose land brings forth thorns 

91 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

sufFocatur: meum semen centena fruge fecundum 
est. 

' Non omnes capiunt verbura Dei, sed hi quibus 
datum est.' Alium eunuchum necessitas faciat, me 
voluntas. ' Tempus et amplexandi et tempus 
abstinendi manus a conplexu; tempus mittendi 
lapides et tempus colligendi.' Postquam de duritia 
nationum generati sunt filii Abraham, coeperunt 
sancti lapides volvi super terram. Pertranseunt 
quippe raundi istius turbines et in curru Dei rotarum 
celeritate volvuntur. Consuant tunicas, qui incon- 
sutam desursum tunicam perdiderunt, quos vagitus 
delectat infantum in ipso lucis exordio fletu lugente, 
quod nati sunt. Eva in paradiso virgo fuit : post 
pellicias tunicas initium nuptiarum. Tua regio 
paradisus. Serva quod nata es, et die : ' Revertere, 
anima mea, in requiem tuam.' 

Et ut scias virginitatem esse naturae, nuptias post 
delictum : virgo nascitur caro de nuptiis in fructu 
reddens, quod in radice perdiderat. ' Exiet virga de 
radice lesse et flos de radice ascendet.' Virga mater 
est domini, simplex, pura, sinceris nuUo extrinsecus 
germine cohaerente et ad similitudinem Dei unione 
fecunda. Virgae flos Christus est dicens : ' Ego flos 
campi et lilium convallium.' Qui et in alio loco lapis 
praedicatur de monte sine manibus significante 
propheta virginem nasciturum de virgine. Manus 

1 St. Matthew, xix. 11. ^ Ecclesiastes, ill. 5. 

' Psalm cxvi. 7. * Isaiah, xi. 1. ^ Vulgate.) 

* A pun on virga, virgo. * Song of Solomon, ii. 1. 

'' Daniel, ii. 45. 

92 



LETTER XXII 

and thistles, and whose crops are choked with 
brambles. My seed produces fruit a hundredfold. 

' Not all men can receive God's saying, but only 
those to whom it is given.' ^ Some men may be 
eunuchs of necessity : I am one by choice. * There 
is^ a time fo embrace, and a time to refrain from 
embracing. There is a time to cast away stones, and 
a time to gather stones together.' ^ Now that out 
of the hardness of the Gentiles sons have been born 
to Abraham, they begin to be holy stones rolUng 
upon the earth. So they pass through the storms of 
this world and roll on \^ith rapid wheels in God's 
chariot. Let those stitch themselves coats who have 
lost that raiment which was woven from the top in 
one piece, and dehght in the cries of infants lamenting 
that they are bom as soon as they see the light of day. 
Eve in Paradise was a virgin : it was only after she 
put on a garment of skins that her married life began. 
Paradise is your home. Keep therefore as you were 
bom, and say : ' Return unto thy rest, O my soul.'* 

That you may understand that virginity is natural 
and that marriage came after the Fall, remember 
that what is born of wedlock is virgin flesh and that 
by its fruit it renders what in its parent root it had 
lost. ' There shall come forth a rod out of the stem 
of Jesse, and a flower shall grow out of his roots.' ■* 
That virgin ^ rod is the mother of Our Lord, simple, 
pure, unsulUed ; drawing no germ of hfe from with- 
out, but hke God Himself fruitful in singleness. The 
flower of the rod is Christ, who says : ' I am the 
rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys.' ^ In 
another passage He is foretold to be ' a stone cut 
out of the mountain without hands,' ' the prophet 
signifying thereby that He will be born a virgin of a 

93 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

quippe accipiuntur pro opere nuptiarum, ut ibi : 
' Sinistra eius sub capite meo et dextera eius amplex- 
abitur me.' In huius sensus congruit voluntatem 
etiam illud, quod animalia, quae a Noe bina in arcam 
inducuntur, immunda sunt — inpar numerus est 
mundus — quod Moyses et lesus Nave nudis in 
sanctam terram pedibus iubentur incedere, et 
discipuli sine calciamentorum onere et vinculis 
pellium ad praedicationem evangelii destinantur ; 
quod milites vestimentis lesu sorte divisis caligas non 
habuere, quas tollerent. Nee enim potuerat habere 
dominus, quod prohibuerat in servis. 

20. Laudo nuptias, laudo coniugium, sed quia mihi 
virgines generant : lego de spinis rosas, de terra 
aurum, de concha margaritum. Nuniquid, qui 
arat, tota die arabit? Nonne et laboris sui fruge 
laetabitur ? Plus honorantur nuptiae, quando, quod 
de illis nascitur, plus amatur. Quid invides, mater, 
filiae ? Tuo lacte nutrita est, tuis educata visceribus 
in tuo adolevit sinu, tu illam sedula pietate servasti : 
indignaris, quod noluit militis uxor esse, sed regis ? 
Grande tibi beneficium praestitit : socrus Dei esse 
coepisti. 

' De virginibus,' inquit apostolus, ' praeceptum 
domini non habeo ' : cur ? Quia, et ipse ut esset 
virgo, non fuit imperii, sed propriae voluntatis. 
Neque enim audiendi sunt, qui eum uxorem habuisse 

^ Song of Solomon, ii. 6. ^1 Corinthians, vii. 25. 

94 



LETTER XXII 

virgin. The word ' hands ' is to be taken as meaning 
the marital act, as in the passage : ' His left hand 
is under my head and his right hand doth embrace 
me.' ^ It agrees also with this interpretation, that 
the unclean animals are led into Noah's ark in pairs, 
while of the clean an uneven number is taken. In 
the same way Moses and Joshua were bidden to take 
off their shoes before they walked on holy ground. 
When the disciples were appointed to preach the 
new Gospel they were told not to burden themselves 
%Wth shoes or shoe-latchets. And when the soldiers 
cast losts for Jesus' garments they found no shoes 
that they could take away. For the Lord could not 
Himself possess what He had forbidden to His 
servants. 

I^praise wedlock, I praise marriage ; but it is 
because they produce me Wrgins. I gather the rose 
--iroin the thorn, the gold from the earth, the pearl 
from the oyster. Shall the ploughman plough all 
day ? Shall he not also enjoy the fruit of his labour ? 
Wedlock is the more honoured when the fruit of 
wedlock is the more loved. Why, mother, grudge 
your daughter her virginity ? She has been reared 
on your milk, she has come from your body, she has 
grown strong in your arms. Your watchful love has 
kept her safe. Are you vexed mth her because 
she chooses to wed not a soldier but a King ? She 
has rendered you a high service : from to-day you 
are the mother by marriage of God. 

The apostle says : ' Concerning virgins I have no 
commandment of the Lord.' ^ Why so? Because 
he himself was a virgin, not by order but of his own 
free will. Those people must not be hstened to who 
pretend that he had a \^ife. When he is discussing 

95 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

configunt, cum de continentia disserens et suadens 
perpetuam castitatem intulerit : * Volo autem omnes 
esse sieut me ipsum,' et infra : ' Dico autem in- 
nuptis et viduis : bonum est illis, si sic permaneant, 
sicut et ego,' et in alio loco : ' Numquid non habemus 
potestatem uxores circumducendi sicut et ceteri 
apostoli ? ' Quare non habet domini de virginitate 
praeceptum? Quia maioris est mercis, quod non 
cogitur et offertur, quia, si fuisset virginitas imperata, 
nuptiae videbantur ablatae et durissimum erat contra 
naturam cogere angelorumque vitam hominibus 
extorquere et id quodam more damnare, quod 
conditum est. 

2L Alia fuit in veteri lege felicitas. ' Beatus, qui 
habet semen in Sion et domesticos in Hierusalem,' 
et maledicta sterilis, quae non pariebat, et : ' Filii 
tui sicut novella olivarum in circuitu mensae tuae,' 
et repromissio divitiarum, et : ' Non erit infirmus in 
tribubus tuis.' Nunc dicitur : ' Ne te lignum 
arbitreris aridum ; habes locum pro filiis et filiabus 
in caelestibus sempiternum ' ; ^ nunc benedicuntur 
pauperes et Lazarus diviti praefertur in purpura ; 
nunc, qui infirmus est, fortior est. Vacuus erat 
orbis, et ut de typis taceam, sola erat benedictio 
liberorum. Propterea et Abraham iam senex 
Cetturae copulatur et lacob mandragoris redimitur 



1 1 Corinthians, vii. 7, 8. * 1 Corinthians, ix. 5. 

* Isaiah, xxxi. 9. LXX. version. * Psalm cxxviii. 3. 



96 



LETTER XXII 

continence and recommending perpetual chastity, 
he says : ' I wish that all men were even as I 
myself.'^ And later: 'I say therefore to the 
unmarried and \vidows, it is good for them if they 
abide even as I.' And in another place: ' Have 
we not power to lead about women even as the 
other apostles ? ' ^ Why then has he no command- 
ment from the Lord concerning virginity ? Because 
that which is freely offered is worth more than what 
is extorted by force, and to command virginity would 
have been to abrogate wedlock. It would have been 
a stern task to force men against their nature and to 
extort from them the life that angels enjoy : more- 
over it would have meant condemning in a way what 
has been ordained. 

The old law had a different ideal of felicity. There 
it is said : ' Blessed is he who hath seed in Zion and 
a family in Jerusalem ' : ^ and cursed is the barren 
woman who beareth not children. And again : 
* Thy children shall be as olive plants around thy 
table.'* To such men riches are promised, and we 
are told that ' there was not one feeble man among the 
tribes.'^ But to-day the word is : ' Think not that 
you are a dry tree ; for instead of sons and daughters 
you have a place for ever in heaven.' ^ Now the poor 
are blessed, and Lazarus is set before Dives in his 
purple. Now he who is weak has thereby the greater 
strength. But in the old days the world was empty of 
people, and, omitting those whose childlessness was 
but a type for the future, the only benediction 
possible was the gift of children. It was for this 
reason that Abraham in his old age married Keturah ; 
that Jacob was hired with mandrakes ; and that 
' Psalm cv. 37. « Cf. Isaiah, Ivi. 3. 

97 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

et conclusam vulvam in ecclesiae figuram Rachel 
pulchra conqueritur. 

Paulatim vero increscente segete messor inmissus 
est. Virgo Helias, Helisaeus virgo, virgines multi 
filii prophetarum. Hieremiae dicitur : ' Et tu ne 
accipias uxorem.* Sanctificatus in utero captivitate 
propinquante uxorem prohibetur accipere. Aliis 
verbis id ipsud apostolus loquitur : ' Existimo ergo 
hoc bonum esse propter instantem necessitatem, 
quoniam bonum est homini sic esse.' Quae est ista 
necessitas, quae aufert gaudia nuptiarum ? * Tempus 
breviatum est ; reliquum est, ut et qui habent uxores 
sic sint, quasi non habentes.' In proximo est 
Nabuchodonosor. Promovit se leo de cubili suo. 
Quo mihi superbissimo regi servitura coniugia ? Quo 
parvulos, quos propheta conploret dicens : ' Adhaesit 
lingua lactantis ad faucem ipsius in siti. Parvuli 
postulaverunt panem, et, qui frangeret eis, non erat ' .'' 
Inveniebatur ergo, ut diximus, in viris tantum hoc 
continentiae bonum et in doloribus iugiter Eva 
pariebat. Postquam vero virgo concepit in utero et 
peperit nobis puerum, ' cuius principatus in umero 
eius,* Deum fortem, patrem futuri saeculi, soluta 
maledictio est. Mors per Evam, vita per Mariam. 
Ideoque et ditius virginitatis donum fluxit in feminas, 
quia coepit a femina. Statim ut Filius Dei ingressus 



* 1 Corinthians, vii. 26. * 1 Corinthians, vii. 29. 

^ Lamentations, iv. 4. 



98 



LETTER XXII 

fair Rachel — a type of the Church — complained of 
the closing of her womb. 

But gradually the crop grew high and the reaper 
was sent in, Elijah was a virgin, and so was Elisha, 
and so were many of the sons of the prophets. 
Jeremiah was told that he must not take a wife. 
He had been sanctified in his mother's womb, and 
now that the captivity was drawing near he was for- 
bidden to marry. The apostle gives the same 
injunction in different words: 'I think therefore 
that this is good by reason of the present distress, 
namely that it is good for a man to be as he is.' ^ 
What is this distress which abrogates the joys of 
wedlock ? The apostle tells us : ' The time is 
short : it remaineth that those who have wives be as 
though they had none.' ^ Now is Nebuchadnezzar 
again drawing nigh." Now has the lion come out 
from his den. What to me is a wife, if she shall 
fall as a slave to some proud king ? What good 
will Uttle ones do, if their lot must be that 
which the prophet deplores : ' The tongue of the 
sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth 
for thirst ; the young children ask for bread 
and there was none to break it ' ? ^ jf In the old ^'j 
days, as I have said, the virtue of continence ' 
was confined to men, and Eve continually bore 
children in travail. But now that a virgin Tias con- 
ceived in the womb a child, upon whose shoulders is 
government, a mighty God, Father of the age to 
come, the fetters of the old curse are broken. Death 
came through Eve: life has come through Mary.y/* 
For this reason the gift of virginity has been 
poured most abundantly upon women, seeing that 
it was from a woman it began. As soon as the 

99 
H 2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST, JEROME 

est super terram, novam sibi familiam instituit, ut, 
qui ab angelis adorabatur in caelo, haberet angelos in 
terris. Tunc Olofernae caput ludith continens 
amputavit; tunc Aman, quod interpretatur ' ini- 
quitas,' suo igne conbustus est; tunc lacobus et 
lohannes relicto patre, rete, navicula, secuti sunt 
salvatorem affectum sanguinis et vincula saeculi et 
curam domus pariter relinquentes ; tunc primum 
auditum est : ' Qui vult venire post me, neget se 
ipsum sibi et tollat crucem suam et sequatur me.' 

Nemo enim miles cum uxore pergit ad proelium. 
Discipulo ad sepulturam patris ire cupienti non 
permittitur. * Vulpes foveas habent et volucres 
caeli nidos ; filius autem hominum non habet, ubi 
caput reclinet ' ; ne forsitan contristeris, si anguste 
manseris. ' Qui sine uxore est, soUicitus est ea, quae 
domini sunt, quomodo placeat Deo, qui autem cum 
uxore est, sollicitus est, quae sunt huius mundi, 
quomodo placeat uxori. Divisa est mulier et virgo : 
quae non est nupta, cogitat, quae sunt domini, ut 
sit sancta corpore et spiritu ; nam quae nupta est, 
cogitat, quae sunt mundi, quomodo placeat viro.' 

22. Quantas molestias habeant nuptiae et quot 
sollicitudinibus vinciantur, in eo libro, quern adversus 
Helvidium de beatae Mariae perpetua virginitate 
edidimus, puto breviter expressum. Nunc eadem 
replicare perlongum est et, si cui placet, de illo 
potest haurire fonticulo. Verum, ne penitus videar 

1 St. Mark, viii. 34. ^ St. Matthew, viu. 20. 

s 1 Corinthians, vii. 32-34. * Cf. App., p. 489. 

loo 



LETTER XXII 

Son of God set foot on earth, He formed for Himself 
a new household, that as He was adored by angels in 
heaven He might have angels also on earth. Then 
chaste Judith once more' cut off the head of 
Holofernes. Then Haman — whose name means 
* iniquity ' — was once more burned in his o^^ti fire. 
Then James and John forsook father and net and 
ship, and followed the Sa\-iour: they put behind 
them the love of their kin, the ties of this world, and 
the care of their home. Then first the words were 
heard : ' \Miosoever will come after me, let him 
deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.' ^ 

For no soldier takes a vdfe viith him when he is 
marching into battle. Even when a disciple was fain 
to go and bury his father, the Lord forbade him and 
said : ' Foxes have holes and the birds of the air 
have nests : but the Son of Man hath not where to 
lay his head.'^ So you must not complain if you 
are scantily lodged. ' He that is unmarried careth 
for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may 
please the Lord : but he that is married careth for 
the things of the world, how he may please his wife. 
There is a difference also between a wife and a 
virgin. The unmarried woman cares for the things 
of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and 
spirit ; but she that is married cares for the things 
of the world, how she may please her husband.' ^ 

How great are the inconveniences involved in 
■wedlock, and how many anxieties encompass it, I 
think I have briefly described in my treatise against 
Helvidius * on the perpetual \irginity of the blessed 
Mary. It would be tedious to go over the same 
ground again, and anyone who wishes to can draw 
from my little spring. But lest I should be thought 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

omisisse, nunc dicam, quod cum apostolus sine 
intermissione orare nos iubeat et, qui in coniugio 
debitum solvit, orare non possit, aut oramus semper 
et virgines sumus, aut orare desinimus, ut coniugio 
serviamus. ' Et si nupserit,' inquit, ' virgo, non 
peccat ; tribulationem tamen carnis habebunt huius- 
modi.' Et in principio libelli praefatus sum me de 
angustiis nuptiarum aut nihil omnino aut pauca 
dicturum et nunc eadem admoneo. At, si tibi 
placet scire, quot molestiis virgo libera, quot uxor 
adstricta sit, lege Tertulliani ad amicum philosophum 
et de virginitate alios libellos et beati Cypriani 
volumen egregium et papae Damasi super hac re 
versu prosaque conposita et Ambrosii nostri quae 
nuper ad sororem scripsit opuscula. In quibus tanto 
se fudit eloquio, ut, quidquid ad laudem virginum 
pertinet, exquisierit, ordinarit, expresserit. 

23. Nobis diverso tramite inceditur : virginitatem 
non efFerimus, sed servamus. Nee sufficit scire, quod 
bonum est, nisi custodiatur adtentius, quod electum 
est, quia illud iudicii est, hoc laboris, et illud com- 
mune cum pluribus, hoc cum paucis. ' Qui persevera- 
verit,' inquit, ' usque ad finem, hie salvus erit,' et : 
' Multi vocati, pauci autem electi.' Itaque obtestor 
te coram Deo et Christo lesu et electis angelis eius, 
ne vasa templi, quae solis sacerdotibus videre con- 
cessum est, facile in publicum proferas, ne sacrarium 



1 1 Corinthians, vii. 28. ^ Not extant. 

' The De habitu virginum of Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage 
(fl. 258), is still extant, as are the three books De Virginibus 
of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, which were written for Mareellina 
(pp. 187 and 485) ; the treatise of Daraasus is now lost. 

* St. Matthew, xxiv. 13. « St. Matthew, xx. 16. 

I02 



LETTER XXII 

to have passed over this subject completely, I will 
-;iy now that the apostle bids us pray without ceasing, 
and that the man who in the married state renders his 
wife her due cannot so pray. Either we pray always 
and are \irgins ; or we cease to pray that we may per- 
form our marital service. The apostle says also : ' If 
a virgin marry she hath not sinned. Nevertheless 
such shall have trouble in the flesh.' ^ At the outset 
of my book I promised that I should say httle or 
nothing of the troubles of wedlock, and now I give you 
the same warning again. But if you ^vish to know 
from how many vexations a virgin is free and by how 
many a ^^■ife is fettered, you should read TertulUan's 
' To a philosophic friend,' * and his other treatises on 
virginity ; the blessed Cyprian's notable book ; the 
\\Titings of Pope Damasus in prose and verse ; and 
the essays recently written by our oa\ti Ambrose for 
his sister.^ In these he has poured forth his soul with 
such eloquence that he has sought out, set forth, and 
arranged all that bears on the praise of virgins. 

I must proceed by a different path. Far from 
trumpeting the praises of virginity, I only wish to 
keep it safe. To know what is good is not enough ; 
when you have chosen it you must guard it with 
jealous care. The first is a matter of judgment and 
we share it \\-ith many : the second calls for labour 
and for that few care. The Lord says : ' He that 
shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved,' * 
and ' Many are called but few are chosen.' ^ There- 
fore before God and Jesus Christ and His chosen 
angels I adjure you to guard what you have, and not 
lightly to expose to the public gaze the vessels of the 
Lord's temple which priests alone are allowed to see. 
No man that is profane may look upon God's 

103 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

Dei quisquam profanus inspiciat. Ozias arcam, 
quam non licebat, adtingens subita morte prostratus 
est. Neque enim aureum vas et argenteum tam 
carum Deo fuit, quam templum corporis virginalis. 
Praecessit umbra, nunc Veritas est. Tu quidem 
simpliciter loqueris et ignotos quoque blanda non 
despicis, sed aliter inpudici vident oculi. Non 
norunt animae pulchritudinem considerare, sed 
corporum. Ezechias thesaurum Dei monstrat 
Assyriis, sed Assyrii videre, quod cuperent. Denique 
frequentibus bellis ludaea convulsa vasa primum 
domir^i capta atque translata sunt et inter epulas et 
concubinarum greges, quia palma vitiorum est 
honesta polluere, Baltasar potat in fialis. 

24. Ne declines aurem tuam in verba mala. 
Saepe indecens aliquid loquentes temptant mentis 
arbitrium. Si libenter audias, virgo, quod dicitur, 
si ad ridicula quaeque solvaris, quidquid dixeris, 
laudant; quidquid negaveris, negant. Facetam 
vocant et sanctam et in qua nuUus sit dolus, * Ecce 
vera Christi ancilla,' dicentes, ' ecce tota simplicitas, 
non ut ilia horrida, turpis, rusticana, terribilis et 
quae ideo forsitan maritum in venire non potuit.' 
Naturali ducimur malo : adulatoribus nostris libenter 
favemus et, quamquam nos respondeamus indignos et 
calidus rubor ora perfundat, tamen ad laudem suam 
intrinsecus anima laetatur. 

Sponsa Christi area est testamenti extrinsecus et 

1 2 Samuel, vi. 6, 7. * 2 Kings, xx. 15. » Daniel, v. 2. 
104 



LETTER XXII 

iiictuary. When Uzziah laid hands up>on the ark,^ 
which it was not lawful to touch, he was struck down 
l)y sudden death. And no vessel of gold or silver 
was ever so dear to God as the temple of a virgin's 
body. What was shadowed in the past presaged the 
reality of to-day. You indeed may speak frankly 
to strangers and look at them with kindly eyes : but 
the unchaste see differently. They cannot appreciate 
the beauty of the soul, they only regard the beauty 
of the body. Hezekiah showed God's treasure to 
the Assyrians, but the Assyrians only saw in it 
something to covet. ^ And so it was that Judaea 
was rent asunder by continual wars, and that the 
first things taken and carried away were the Lord's 
vessels. From them as drinking cups Belshazzar 
quaffed his >vine- — for the crown of vice is to pollute 
w hat is noble — surrounded by his concubines at the 
t'east.^ 

Never incUne your ear to words of mischief. Men 
often make an improper remark, that they may test 
a virgin's real purpose. If you hear it with pleasure 
and are ready to unbend at a joke, they approve of 
all you say, and anything you deny they deny also. 
They call you both merry and good, one in whom 
there is no guile. ' Behold,' they cry, ' a true hand- 
maid of Christ : behold complete frankness. She is 
not like that rough, ugly country fright who probably 
could not find a husband just for that reason.' A 
natural weakness easily beguiles us. We willingly 
smile on such flatterers, and although we may blush 
and say we are unworthy of their praise, the soul 
^^ithin us rejoices to hear their words. 

Like the ark of the covenant Christ's bride should 
be overlaid with gold within and without ; she should 

105 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

intrinsecus deanrata, custos legis domini. Sicut in 
ilia nihil aliud fuit nisi tabulae testamenti, ita et in te 
nullus sit extrinsecus cogitatus. Super hoc propi- 
tiatorio quasi super cherubim sedere vult dominus. 
Mittit discipulos suos, ut in pullo asinae curis te 
saecularibus solvant, ut paleas et lateres Aegypti 
derelinquens Moysen sequaris in heremo et terram 
repromissionis introeas. Nemo sit, qui prohibeat, 
non mater, non soror, cognata, germanus ; dominus 
te necessariam habet. Quod si voluerint inpedire, 
timeant flagella Pharaonis, qui populum Dei ad 
colendum eum nolens dimittere passus est ilia, quae 
scripta sunt. lesus ingressus templum omnia, quae 
templi non erant, proiecit. Deus enim zelotes est 
et non vult domum patris fieri speluncam latronum. 
Alioquin, ubi aera numerantur, ubi sunt caveae 
columbarum et simplicitas enecatur, ubi in pectore 
virginali saecularium negotiorum cura aestuat, 
statim velum templi scinditur ; sponsus consurgit 
iratus et dicit : * Relinquetur vobis domus vestra 
deserta.' 

Lege evangelium et vide, quomodo Maria ad pedes 
domini sedens Marthae studio praeferatur — et certe 
Martha sedulo hospitalitatis officio domino atque 
discipulis convivium praeparabat : ' Martha,' inquit, 
* Martha, sollicita es et turbaris circa plurima ; pauca 
autem necessaria sunt aut unum. Maria bonam 
partem elegit, quae non auferetur ab ea.* Esto et tu 
Maria, cibis praeferto doctrinam. Sorores tuae 

1 St. Matthew, xxiii. 38. " St. Luke, x. 41. 

io6 



LETTER XXII 



I 

P^taard the law of the Lord. As in the ark there was 
nothing but the tablets of the covenant, so in you let 
there be no thought of anything outside. On that 
mercy seat it is God's pleasure to sit as once He sat 
upon the cherubim. He sends His disciples, that as 
He rode upon the foal of an ass, so He may ride upon 
you, setting you free from the cares of this world so 
that you may leave the bricks and straw of Egypt 
and follow Him, the true Moses, through the wilder- 
ness and enter the land of promise. Let no one 
prevent you, neither mother nor sister nor kinswoman 
nor brother : the Lord hath need of you. If they 
seek to hinder, let them fear the scourges that fell 
on Pharaoh, who, because he would not let God's 
people go to worship Him, suffered what is written 
in the Scriptures. Jesus entered into the temple and 
cast out those things which were not of the temple. 
For God is jealous and He does not allow His Father's 
house to be made a den of robbers. In any case, 
where money is counted, where there are pens of 
doves for sale, where simphcity is slain, where a 
virgin's breast is disturbed by thoughts of worldly 
business, there at once the veil of the temple is rent 
and the Bridegroom rising in anger says : ' Your 
house is left unto you desolate.' ^ 

Read the Gospel, and see how Mary sitting at the 
feet of the Lord is preferred to the busy Martha. 
Martha, in her anxious and hospitable zeal, was 
preparing a meal for the Lord and His disciples : 
but Jesus said to her : ' Martha, Martha, thou art 
careful and troubled about many things. But few 
things are needful or one. And Mary hath chosen 
that good part which shall not be taken away from 
her.' 2 Be thou too Mary, and prefer the Lord's 

107 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

cursitent et quaerant, quomodo Christum hospitem 
habeant ; tu insemel saeculi onere proiecto sede ad 
pedes domini et die : ' Inveni eum, quem quaerebat 
anima mea; tenebo eum et non dimittam eum,' et 
ille respondeat : ' Una est columba mea, perfecta 
mea ; una est matri suae, electa genetrici suae,' 
caelesti videlicet Hierusalem. 

25. Semper te cubiculi tui secreta custodiant, 
semper tecum sponsus ludat intrinsecus. Oras : 
loqueris ad sponsum ; legis : ille tibi loquitur, et, 
cum te somnus oppresserit, veniet post parietem et 
mittet manum suam per foramen et tanget ventrem 
tuum, et tremefacta consurges et dices : * Vulnerata 
caritatis ego sum,' et rursus ab eo audies : ' Hortus 
conclusus soror mea sponsa ; hortus conclusus, fons 
signatus.' Cave ne domum exeas, ne velis videre 
filias regionis alienae, quamvis fratres habeas patri- 
archas et Israhel parente laeteris : Dina egressa 
corrumpitur. Nolo te sponsum quaerere per plateas, 
nolo circumire angulos civitatis, Dicas licet : ' Sur- 
gam et circumibo in civitate, in foro et in plateis et 
quaeram quem dilexit anima mea,' et interroges : 
' Nunquid, quem dilexit anima mea, vidistis ? ' nemo 
tibi respondere dignabitur. Sponsus in plateis non 
potest inveniri — ' Arta et angusta via est, quae ducit 
ad vitam ' — denique sequitur : ' Quaesivi eum et non 
inveni eum, vocavi eum et non respondit mihi.' 

1 Song of Solomon, ill. 4. ^ Song of Solomon, vi. 9. 

' I.e. to pull the latch open. * Song of Solomon, v. 8. 

* Song of Solomon, iv. 12. * Genesis, xxxiv. 1. 

' Song of Solomon, iii. 2. « St. Matthew, vii. 14. 
io8 



LETTER XXII 

teaching to food. Let your sisters run to and fro, 
and seek how they may entertain Christ as a guest. 
Do you once for all cast away the burden of this 
world and sit at the Lord's feet, and say : ' I have 
found him whom my soul sought ; I will hold him, I 
will not let him go.'^ And He will answer : ' My dove, 
my undefiled is but one ; she is the only one of her 
mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her.' ^ 
And that mother is the Jerusalem that is in heaven. 
Let the seclusion of your own chamber ever guard 
vou ; ever let the Bridegroom sport with you within. 
If you pray, you are speaking to your Spouse : if you 
read, He is speaking to you. WTien sleep falls on you, 
He will come behind the wall and will put His hand 
through the hole in the door* and will touch your 
Hesh. And you will awake and rise up and cry : 
I am sick with love.'* And you will hear Him 
answer : * A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse ; 
a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.' ^ Go not from 
home nor visit the daughters of a strange land, 
though you have patriarchs for brothers and rejoice 
in Israel as your father. Dinah went out and was 
seduced.® I would not have you seek the Bridegroom 
in the pubhc squares ; I would not have you go about 
the corners of the city. You may say : ' I will rise 
now and go about the city : in the streets and in the 
broad ways I will seek Him whom my soul loveth.' ' 
But though you ask the watchmen : ' Saw ye Him 
whom my soul loveth ? ' no one will deign to answer 
you. The Bridegroom cannot be found in the city 
squares. ' Strait and narrow is the way that leadeth 
unto life.' ^ And the Song goes on : ' I sought him 
but I could not find him : I called him but he gave 
me no answer.' 

109 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

Atque utinam non invenisse sufficiat. Vulnera- 
beris, nudaberis et gemebunda narrabis : ' Invene- 
runt me custodes, qui circumeunt civitatem; 
percusserunt me, vulneraverunt me, tulerunt 
theristrum meum a me.' Si autem hoc exiens 
patitur ilia, quae dixerat : * Ego dormio et cor meum 
vigilat,' et : ' Fasciculus stactae fratruelis meus 
mihi, in medio uberum meorum commorabitur,' quid 
de nobis fiet, quae adhuc adulescentulae sumus, 
quae sponsa intrante cum sponso remanemus ex- 
trinsecus? Zelotypus est lesus, non vult ab aliis 
videri faciem tuam. Excuses licet atque causeris : 
' Adducto velamine ora contexi, te quaesivi, tibi dixi : 
*' Adnuntia mihi, quem dilexit anima mea, ubi pascis, 
ubi cubas in meridie, nequando fiam sicut cooperta 
super greges sodalium tuorum," ' indignabitur, tu- 
mebit, et dicet : ' Si non cognoveris temet ipsam, o 
pulchra in mulieribus, egredere tu in vestigiis gre- 
gum et pasce haedos tuos in tabernaculis pastorum.' 
' Sis,' inquit, ' pulchra et inter omnes mulieres species 
tua diligatur ab sponso, nisi te cognoveris et omni 
custodia servaveris cor tuum, nisi oculos iuvenum 
fugeris, egredieris de thalamo meo et pasces haedos, 
qui staturi sunt a sinistris.' 

26. Itaque, mi Eustochia, filia, domina, conserva, 
germana — aliud enim aetatis, aliud meriti, illud 
religionis, hoe caritatis est nomen — audi Esaiam 

1 Song of Solomon, v. 7. * Song of Solomon, i. 13. 

3 Song of Solomon, i. 7. * Song of Solomon, i. 8. 

no 



LETTER XXII 

Would that failure to find Him were all. You 
ill be wounded and stripped, you Mill lament and 
ly : * The watchmen who go about the city found 
me : they smote me, they wounded me, they took 
away my veil from me.' ^ If this was the punish- 
ment that going forth brought to her who said : 
I sleep but my heart waketh,' and ' A bundle of 
myrrh is my cousin unto me ; he shall lie all 
night between my breasts ' ; ^ if she, I say, suffered 
so much because she went abroad, what shall be done 
to us who are but young girls, to us who, when the 
bride goes in \nih the Bridegroom, still remain with- 
out ? Jesus is jealous: He does not wish others to 
see your face. You may excuse yourself and say : 
I have d^a^^•n my veil, I have covered my face, I 
have sought Thee there, and I have said : " Tell me, 
O Thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest 
Thy flock, where Thou makest it to rest at noon. 
For why should I be as one that is veiled beside the 
flocks of Thy companions ? " ' 3 B^t He will be ^vroth 
and angry, and He will say : ' If thou know not 
thyself, O thou fairest among women, go thy way 
forth by the footsteps of the flock and feed thy 
goats beside the shepherd's tents.'* ' Though you 
be fair,' says He, ' and though of all faces yours 
be dearest to the Bridegroom, yet unless you know 
yourself and keep your heart with all diligence and 
avoid the eyes of lovers, you will be turned from My 
bridal-chamber to feed the* goats which shall be set 
on the left hand.' 

Therefore, my Eustochium, daughter, lady, fellow- 

rvant, sister — for the first name suits your age, 

liie second your rank, the third our reUgion, and the 

last our affection — hear the words of Isaiah : ' Come, 

III 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

loquentem : * Populus meus, intra in cubicula tua, 
claude ostium tuum, abscondere pusillum quantulum, 
donee pertranseat ira domini.' Foris vagentur 
virgines stultae, tu intrinsecus esto cum sponso, quia, 
si ostium cluseris et secundum evangelii praeceptum 
in occulto oraveris patrem tuum, veniet et pulsabit et 
dicet : ' Ecce ego sto ante ianuam et pulso. Si quis 
mihi aperuerit, intrabo et cenabo cum eo et ipse 
mecum,' et tu statim sollicita respondebis : ' Vox 
fratruelis mei pulsantis : aperi mihi, soror mea, 
proxima mea, columba mea, perfecta mea.' Nee 
est, quod dicas : ' Dispoliavi me tunicam meam, 
quomodo induar cam ? Lavi pedes meos, quomodo 
inquinabo eos ? ' Ilico surge et aperi, ne te 
remorante pertranseat et postea conqueraris dicens : 
' Aperui fratrueli meo, fratruelis meus pertransiit.' 
Quid enim necesse est, ut cordis tui ostia clausa sint 
sponso .'' Aperiantur Christo, claudantur diabolo 
secundum illud : ' Si spiritus potestatem habentis 
ascenderit super te, locum ne dederis ei.' Danihel 
in cenaculo suo — neque enim manere poterat in 
humili — fenestras ad Hierusalem apertas habuit : te 
tu habeto fenestras apertas, sed unde lumen intro- 
eat, unde videas civitatem Dei. Ne aperias illas 
fenestras, de quibus dicitur: ' Mors intra vit per 
fenestras vestras.' 

27. Illud quoque tibi vitandum est cautius, ne 
vanae gloriae ardore capiaris. ' Quomodo,' inquit 
lesus, ' potestis credere gloriam ab hominibus 
accipientes ? ' Vide, quale malum sit, quod qui 

^ Isaiah, xxvi. 20. * Revelation, iii. 20. 

* Song of Solomon, v. 2, 3. * Song of Solomon, v. 6. 

^ Ecclesiastes, x. 4. * Jeremiah, ix. 21. 



LETTER XXII 

my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut 
thy doors about thee : hide thyself as it were for a 
little moment, until the indignation of the Lord be 
over-past.' 1 Let fooUsh \irgins roam abroad; do 
you for your part stay within with the Bridegroom. 
If you shut your door, and according to the Gospel 
precept pray to your Father in secret, He vriW come 
and knock, and He will say : ' Behold I stand at the 
door and knock : if any man open, I \\i\\ come in to 
him and will sup with him, and he "v^ith me.' ^ And 
you forthwith will eagerly make reply : ' It is the 
voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying " Open to 
me, my sister, my nearest, my dove, my undefiled." ' 
You must not say : ' I have put off my coat ; how 
shall I put it on ? I have washed my feet : how shall 
I defile them : ' ^ Arise straightway and open : lest, 
if you hnger, He pass on and leave you mournfully 
to crv' : ' I opened to my cousin, but my cousin 
was gone.'^ WTiy need the door of your heart be 
closed to the Bridegroom ? Let it be open to Christ 
at closed to the devil, according to the saying: 
If the spirit of him who hath power rise up against 
thee, leave not thy place.' ^ Daniel when he could 
no longer remain below ^\^thdrew to an upper room, 
but he kept its windows open towards Jerusalem. 
Do you too keep your >Wndows open on the side 
where hght may enter and you may see the eye of 
the Lord. Open not those other windows of which 
it is said : ' By our windows death came in.' ^ 

You must also avoid \\ith especial care the traps 
that are set for you by a desire for vainglory. Jesus 
says : ' How can ye beUeve, which receive glory one 
from another ? ' ' Consider then how evil that thing 

■ St. John, V. 44. 

113 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

habuerit, non potest credere. Nos vero dicamus : 

* Quoniam gloriatio mea es tu,' et : ' Qui gloriatur, 
in domino glorietur,' et : 'Si adhuc hominibus 
placerem, Christi servus non essem,' et : ' Mihi 
absit gloriari, nisi in cruce domini mei lesu Christi, 
per queni mihi mundus crucifixus est et ego mundo,' 
et illud: 'In te laudabimur tota die,' et : * In 
domino laudabitur anima mea.' 

Cum facis elemosynam, Deus solus videat. Cum 
ieiunas, laeta sit facies tua. Vestis nee satis munda 
nee sordida et nulla diversitate notabilis, ne ad te 
obvia praetereuntium turba consistat et digito 
demonstreris. Frater est mortuus, sororis est 
corpusculum deducendum : cave ne, dum hoc 
saepius facis, ipsa moriaris. Ne satis religiosa velis 
videri nee plus humilis, quam necesse est, ne gloriam 
fugiendo quaeras. Plures enim paupertatis, miseri- 
cordiae atque ieiunii arbitros declinantes in hoc ipso 
placere cupiunt, quod placere contemnunt ; et 
mirum in modum laus, dum vitatur, adpetitur. 
Ceteris perturbationibus, quibus mens hominis 
gaudet, aegrescit, sperat et metuit, plures invenio 
extraneos ; hoc vitio pauci admodum sunt qui 
caruerint, et ille est optimus, qui quasi in pulchro 
corpore rara naevorum sorde respergitur. 

Neque vero moneo, ne de divitiis glorieris, ne de 
generis nobilitate te iactes, ne te ceteris praeferas : 
scio humilitatem tuam, scio te ex afFectu dicere : 

* Domine, non est exaltatum cor meum neque elati 

^ 1 Corinthians, i. 31. * Galatians, i. 10. 

* Galatians, vi. 14. * Psalm xliv. 8. 

114 



LETTER XXII 

must be whose presence forbids belief. Let us 
rather say : ' Thou art my glorying,* and, ' He that 
glorleth, let him glory in the Lord,' ^ and, ' If I yet 
pleased men I should not be the servant of Christ,' ^ 
and, ' Far be it from me to glory save in the cross of 
our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world hath 
Heen crucified unto me and I unto the world,' ^ and 
jain, ' In God we boast all the day long ; my soul 
-aall make her boast in the Lord.' •* 

When you are gi\'ing alms, let God alone see you. 
When you are fasting, keep a cheerful face. Let 
your dress be neither elegant nor slovenly, and let it 
not be noticeable by any strangeness that might 
attract the notice of passers-by and make people 
point their fingers at you. If a brother dies or the 
body of a beloved sister has to be carried to burial, 
take care that you do not attend such funerals too 
often, or you may die yourself. Do not try to seem 
very devout nor more humble than is necessary. It 
is possible to seek glory by avoiding it. Many men 
who screen from \-iew their poverty, charity, and 
fasting, reveal their desire for admiration by the very 
fact that they spurn it, and, strangely enough, seek 
praise while avoiding it. From the other perturba- 
tions of the mind, from exultation, despondency, 
hope and fear I find many free ; but desire for praise 
is a fault which few escape, and that man is best 
whose character, hke a fair skin, is disfigured by the 
fewest blemishes. 

I am not going to warn you against boasting of 

ur wealth, or priding yourself on your birth, or 

rting yourself up as superior to others. I know 

N . >ur humility. I know that you can say from your 

heart : ' Lord, my heart is not haughty nor my eyes 

i2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

sunt oculi mei.' Novi et apud te et apud matrem 
tuam superbiam, per quam diabolus cecidit, locum 
penitus non habere. Unde et super ea scribere 
supersedi. Stultissimum quippe est docere, quod 
noverit ille, quem doeeas. Sed ne hoc ipsud tibi 
iactantiam generet, quod saecuh iactantiam contemp- 
sisti, ne cogitatio tacita subrepat, ut quia in auratis 
vestibus placere desisti, placere coneris in sordibus 
et, quando in conventu fratrum veneris vel sororum, 
humili sedeas scabello, te causeris indignam, vocem 
ex industria quasi confecta ieiuniis tenues et de- 
ficientis imitata gressum umeris innitaris alterius. 
Sunt quippe nonnullae exterminantes facies suas, 
ut pareant hominibus ieiunare ; quae, statim ut 
aUquem viderint, ingemescunt, demittunt super- 
cilium et operta facie vix unum oculum hberant ad 
videndum ; vestis pulla, cingulurn sacceum et sor- 
didis manibus pedibusque ; venter solus, quia videri 
non potest, aestuat cibo ; his cotidie psalmus ille 
cantatur : ' Deus dissipavit ossa hominum sibi 
placentium.' Aliae virili habitu, veste* mutata, 
erubescunt feminae esse, quod natae sunt, crinem 
amputant et inpudenter erigunt facies eunuchinas. 
Sunt, quae ciliciis vestiuntur et cucullis fabrefactis, 
ut ad infantiam redeant, imitantur noctuas et bubones. 
28. Sed ne tantum videar disputare de feminis, 

^ Psalm cxxxi. 1. * Psalm liii. 5. (Roman Psalter.) 

ii6 



LETTER XXII 

\< 'fty.' ^ I know that with you, as with your mother, 
the pride through which the devil fell finds no lodging. 
Iherefore it would be superfluous to write to you on 
this subject : for indeed it is the height of folly to 
teach a pupil what he already knows. But beware 
lest your contempt for the world's boastfulness breed 
in vou a boastfulness of another kind. Harbour not 
the secret thought that as you have ceased to please 
in cloth of gold you may now try to please in home- 
spun. ^^'hen you come into a gathering of brethren 
and sisters, do not sit in too lowly a place or pretend 
that you are unworthy of a footstool. Do not lower 
^ our voice on purpose, as though you were worn out 
in' fasting ; nor yet lean upon a friend's shoulder 
imitating the gait of one who is completely exhausted. 
Slime women indeed actually disfigure themselves, 

as to make it ob\ious that they have been fasting. 
-V- soon as they catch sight of anyone they drop their 
eyes and begin sobbing, covering up the face, all but 
a glimpse of one eye, which they just keep free to 
watch the effect they make. They wear a black dress 
and a girdle of sackcloth ; their feet and hands are 
unwashed : their stomach alone — because it cannot 
seen — is busy churning food. Of these the psalm 

-ung every day : ' The Lord will scatter the bones 
of them that please themselves.'- Other women 
change their garb and put on men's dress ; they cut 
their hair short and lift up their chins in shameless 
fashion ; they blush to be what they were born to 
be — women, and prefer to look like eunuchs. Others 
I'ain dress themselves in goat's hair, and returning 
their childhood's fashions put on a baby's hood 
and make themselves look like so many owls. 

Women are not the only persons of whom I must 

117 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

viros quoque fuge, quos videris catenates, quibus 
feminei contra apostolum crines, hircorum barba, 
nigrum pallium et nudi in patientiam frigoris pedes. 
Haec omnia argumenta sunt diaboli, Talem olim 
Antimum, talem nuper Sofronium Roma congemuit. 
Qui postquam nobilium introierint domos et deceper- 
int mulierculas ' oneratas peccatis, semper discentes 
et numquam ad scientiam veritatis pervenientes,' 
tristitiam simulant et quasi longa ieiunia furtivis 
noctium cibis protrahunt ; pudet reliqua dicere, ne 
videar invehi potius quam monere. 

Sunt alii — de mei ordinis hominibus loquor — qui 
ideo ad presbyterium et diaconatum ambiunt, ut 
mulieres licentius videant. Omnis his cura de vesti- 
bus, si bene oleant, si pes laxa pelle non folleat. 
Crines calamistri vestigio rotantur, digiti de anulis 
radiant et, ne plantas umidior via spargat, vix 
imprimunt summa vestigia. Tales cum videris, 
sponsos magis aestimato quam clericos. Quidam in 
hoc omne studium vitamque posuerunt, ut matro- 
narum nomina, domos moresque cognoscant. 

E quibus unum, qui huius artis est princeps, bre- 
viter strictimque describam, quo facilius magistro 
cognito discipulos recognoscas. Cum sole festinus 
exsurgit ; salutandi ei ordo disponitur ; viarum 



^ 2 Corinthians, xi. 14. ^ Unknown. 

3 2 Timothy, iii. 6. 



Il8 



LETTER XXII 

warn you. Avoid those men also whom you see 
loaded with chains and wearing their hair long like a 
woman's, in contravention of the apostle's precept ;i 
and with all this a shaggy goat's beard, a black cloak, 
and bare feet braving the cold. All these things 
are plain signs of the devil. Antimus - some time 
ago was the sort of man I mean, and just lately So- 
phronius ^ has been another for Rome to groan over. 
Such men as these make their way into noble houses, 
and deceive ' silly women laden with sins, ever 
learning and never able to come to the knowledge of 
the truth.' 3 They put on a mournful face and 
pretend to make long fasts, which for them are 
rendered easy by secret nocturnal banquets. I am 
ashamed to say more, lest I should seem to be using 
the language of invective rather than of admonition. 

There are other men — I speak of those of my own 
order — who only seek the office of presbyter and 
deacon that they may be able to visit women freely. 
These fellows think of nothing but dress ; they must 
be nicely scented, and their shoes must fit without 
a crease. Their hair is curled and still shows traces 
of the tongs ; their fingers glisten with rings ; and if 
there is wet on the road they walk across on tiptoe 
so as not to splash their feet. When you see these 
gentry, think of them rather as potential bridegrooms 
than as clergymen. Indeed some of them devote 
their whole life and all their energies to finding out 
about the names, the households, and the characters 
of married ladies. 

I will give you a brief and summary portrait of the 
chief practitioner in this line, that from the master's 
likeness you may recognize his disciples. He rises 
with the sun in haste ; the order of his morning calls 

119 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

conpendia requiruntur, et paene usque ad cubilia 
dormientium senex inportunus ingreditur. Si pul- 
villum viderit, si mantele elegans, si aliquid domes- 
ticae supellectilis, laudat, miratur, adtrectat, et se 
his indigere conquerens non tain inpetrat quam 
extorquet, quia singulae metuunt veredarium urbis 
offendere. Huic inimica castitas, inimica ieiunia ; 
prandiiim nidoribus probat et altilem quae vulgo 
'iroTfTrvt,(ov ' nominatur. Os barbarum et procax 
et in convicia semper armatum. Quocumque 
te verteris, primus in facie est. Quidquid novum 
insonuerit, aut auctor aut exaggerator est famae. 
Equi per horarum momenta mutantur tam nitidi, 
tam feroces, ut ilium Thracii regis putes esse ger- 
manum. 

29. Variis callidus hostis pugnat insidiis. Sapien- 
tior erat coluber omnibus bestiis, quas fecerat dominus 
Deus super terram. Unde et apostolus : ' Non,' 
inquit, ' ignoramus eius astutias.' Nee affectatae 
sordes nee exquisitae munditiae conveniunt Chris- 
tianis. Si quid ignoras, si quid de scripturis dubitas, 
interroga eum, quem vita commendat, excusat 
aetas, fama non reprobat, qui possit dicere : ' De- 
sponsavi enim vos uni viro, virginem castam exhibere 
Christo.' Aut si non est, qui possit exponere, 
melius est aliquid nescire securam, quam cum 
periculo discere. Memento, quoniam in medio 

^ Cf. Virgil, ^eneid, I. 752. Diomede was a great horseman. 
" Genesis, iii. 1. 

* 2 Corinthians, ii. 11. 

* 2 Corinthians, xi. 2. 



LETTER XXII 

is duly arranged ; he takes short cuts, and importun- 
ately thrusts his old head almost into the bedchambers 
of ladies still asleep. If he sees a cushion, or an 
elegant table cover, or indeed any article of furniture 
that he fancies, he begins praising and admiring it 
and takes it in his hand, and so, lamenting that he 
has nothing like this, he begs or rather extorts it 
from the owner, as all the women are afraid to offend 
the town gossip. He hates chastity and he hates 
fasting : what he likes is a savoury lunch — say a 
plump young bird such as is commonly called a 
cheeper. He has a rough and saucy tongue always 
well equipped with abusive 'words. Wherever you 
betake yourself, he is the first man you see. What- 
ever news is noised abroad, he either originates the 
story or else exaggerates it. He changes horses 
every hour; and his nags are so sleek and spirited 
that you might take him to be own brother to 
Diomede of Thrace.^ 

Our cunning enemy fights against us with many 
varied stratagems. ' The serpent was more subtile 
than any beast of the field which the Lord God had 
made.' ^ So the apostle says: 'We are not 
ignorant of his de\ices.'^ Neither an affected 
shabbiness nor an elaborate elegance of attire 
becomes a Christian. If you feel ignorant or have 
any doubt about some passage in Scripture, ask 
advice from some man whose life commends him, 
whose age puts him above suspicion, and whose 
reputation stands high with all ; one who can say : 
' I have espoused you to one husband, a chaste 
\irgin to present to Christ.' ^ If there is no one at 
hand able to resolve your difficulty, remember that 
peaceful ignorance is better than dangerous instruc- 

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SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

laqueorum ambulas et multae veteranae virgines 
castitatis indubitatam in ipso mortis limine coronani 
perdidere de manibus. 

Si quae ancillae sunt comites propositi tui, ne 
erigaris adversus eas, ne infleris ut domina. Unum 
sponsum habere coepistis, simul psallitis Christo, 
simul corpus accipitis, cur mensa diversa sit? Pro- 
vocentur et aliae. Honor virginum sit invitatio 
ceterarum. Quodsi aliquam senseris infirmiorem in 
fide, suscipe, consolare, blandire et pudicitiam illius 
fac lucrum tuum. Si qua simulat fugiens servitutemj 
huic aperte apostolum lege : ' Melius est nubere 
quam uri.' 

Eas autem virgines viduasque, quae otiosae et 
curiosae domus circumeunt matronarum, quae rubore 
frontis adtrito parasitos vicere mimorum. quasi 
quasdam pestes abice. ' Corrumpunt mores bonos 
confabulationes pessimae.' Nulla illis nisi ventris 
cura est et quae ventri proxima. Istiusmodi hortari 
sclent et dicere : ' Mi catella, rebus tuis utere et 
vive, dum vivis,' et : * Numquid filiis tuis servas ? ' 
Vinosae atque lascivae quidvis mali insinuant, ac 
ferreas quoque mentes ad delicias molliunt, et ' cum 
luxuriatae fuerint in Christo, nubere volunt ha- 
bentes damnationem, quia primam fidem inritam 
fecerunt.' 



^ 1 Corinthians, vii. 9. * 1 Corinthians, xv. 33. 

» 1 Timothy, v. 11. 



LETTER XXII 

tion. You walk in the midst of snares, and many 
veteran virgins, whose chastity never was doubted, 
on the very threshold of death have let the crown sUp 
from their hands. 

If any of your handmaids have taken the vow with 
you, do not Uft yourself up against them or pride 
yourself as being the mistress. From now you all 
have one Bridegroom ; you sing psalms together ; 
together you receive the Body of Christ, ^^^ly then 
should you separate at meals ? You must challenge 
other mistresses : let the respect paid to your \'irgins 
be an in\itation for the rest to do the same. If you 
find one of your girls weak in faith, take her aside, 
comfort and caress her, make her chastity yo\ir 
treasure. But if one merely pretends to have a 
vocation in order to escape from service, read aloud 
to her the apostle's words : ' It is better to marry 
than to bum.' ^ 

Cast from you like the plague those idle and 
inquisitive virgins and widows who go about to 
married women's houses and surpass the very para- 
sites in a play by their unblushing effrontery. ' Evil 
communications corrupt good manners,' ^ and these 
women care for nothing but their belly and its 
adjacent members. Creatures of this sort \W11 give 
you wheedling adWce : ' My pretty pet, make the 
best of what you have and live your own life. WTiat 
is the use of sa\'ing for your children ? ' Flown \\ith 
wine and wantonness, they instil all sorts of mischief 
into a girl's mind, and tempt even the firmest soul 
with the soft dehghts of pleasure. ' And when they 
have begun to wax wanton against Christ they will 
marry, having condemnation because they have 
rejected their first faith.' ^ 

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SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

Nee tibi diserta multum velis videri aut lyricis 
festiva carminibus metro ludere. Non delumbem 
matronarum salivam delicata secteris, quae nunc 
strictis dentibus, nunc labiis dissolutis, balbutientem 
linguam in dimidiata verba moderantur^ rusticum 
putantes omne, quod nascitur. Adeo illis adulterium 
etiam linguae placet. ' Quae enim communicatio 
luci ad tenebras, qui consensus Christo et Belial ? 
Quid facit cum psalterio Horatius ? cum evangeliis 
Maro ? cum apostolo Cicero ? Nonne scandalizatur 
frater, si te viderit in idolio recumbentem ? Et licet 
' omnia munda muhdis et nihil reiciendum sit, quod 
cum gratiarum actione percipitur,' tamen simul 
bibere non debemus calicem Christi et calicem 
daemoniorum. Referam tibi meae infelicitatis 
historiam. 

30. Cum ante annos plurimos domo, parentibus, 
sorore, cognatis et, quod his difficiUus est, consuetudine 
lautioris cibi propter caelorum me regna castrassem 
et Hierosolymam militaturus pergerem, bybliotheca, 
quam mihi Romae summo studio ac labore confe- 
ceram, carere non poteram. Itaque miser ego 
lecturus Tullium ieiunabam ; post noctium crebras 
vigilias, post lacrimas, quas mihi praeteritorum 
recordatio peccatorum ex imis visceribus eruebat, 
Plautus sumebatur in manibus. Si quando in memet 
reversus prophetam legere coepissem, sermo horrebat 
incultus, et quia lumen caecis ocuUs non videbam, 
non oculorum putabam culpam esse, sed solis. Dum 

^ 2 Corinthians, vi. 14. 
124 



LETTER XXII 

Do not seek to appear over-eloquent or compose 
trifling songs in verse. Do not in false refinement 
follow the sickly taste of those married ladies who 
habitually speak ^^ith a lisp and clip all their words, 
now pressing their teeth together, and now opening 
their lips wide, fancying that anything produced 
naturally is countrified. So much do they like 
adultery even of the tongue. ' What communion 
hath light with darkness ? What concord hath Christ 
with Belial ? ' ^ What has Horace to do with the 
Psalter, Virgil with the Gospels and Cicero with Paul ? 
Is not a brother made to stumble if he sees you sitting 
at table in an idol's temple ? Although unto the pure 
all things are pure and nothing is to be refused if it 
be received with thanksgiving, still we ought not to 
drink the cup of Christ and the cup of de\ils at the 
same time. I will tell you the story of my own 
unhappy experience. 

Many years ago for the sake of the kingdom of 
heaven I cut myself off from home, parents, sister, 
relations, and, what was harder, from the dainty food 
to which I had been used. But even when I was on 
my way to Jerusalem to fight the good fight there, I 
could not bring myself to forgo the library which with 
great care and labour I had got together at Rome. 
And so, miserable man that I was, I would fast, only 
to read Cicero afterwards. I would spend long 
nights in vigil, I would shed bitter tears called from 
my inmost heart by the remembrance of my past 
sins ; and then I would take up Plautus again. 
Whenever I returned to my right senses and began 
to read the prophets, their language seemed harsh 
and barbarous. With my blind eyes I could not see 
the Ught : but I attributed the fault not to my eyes 

12^ 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

ita me antiquus serpens inluderet, in media ferme 
quadragesima meduUis infusa febris corpus invasit 
exhaustum et sine ulla requie — quod dictu quoque 
incredibile sit — sic infelicia membra depasta est, ut 
ossibus vix haererem. 

Interim parabantur exsequiae et vitalis animae 
calor toto frigente iam corpore in solo tam tepente 
pectusculo palpitabat, cum subito raptus in spiritu 
ad tribunal iudicis pertrahor, ubi tantum luminis et 
tantum erat ex circumstantium claritate fulgoris, 
ut proiectus in terram sursmn aspicere non auderem. 
Interrogatus condicionem Christianum me esse 
respondi : et ille, qui residebat, ' Mentiris,' ait, 
* Cicero nianus es, non Christianus ; " ubi thesaurus 
tuus, ibi et cor tuum." ' Ilico obmutui et inter 
verbera — nam caedi me iusserat — coriscientiae magis 
igne torquebar ilium mecum versiculum reputans : 
' In inferno autem quis confitebitur tibi ? ' Clamare 
tamen coepi et heiulans dicere : ' Miserere mei, 
domine, miserere mei.' Haec vox inter flagella 
resonabat. Tandem ad praesidentibus genua pro- 
voluti, qui adstiterant, precabantur, ut veniam 
tribueret adulescentiae, ut errori locum patientiae 
commodaret exacturus deinde cruciatum, si gentilium 

1 St. Matthew, vi. 21. 
126 



LETTER XXII 

but to the sun. While the old serpent was thus 
mocking me, about the middle of Lent a fever 
attacked my weakened body and spread through my 
inmost veins. It may sound incredible, but the 
ravages it wTought on my unhappy frame were so 
persistent that at last my bones scarcely held 
together. 

Meantime preparations were made for my funeral : 
my whole body grew gradually cold, and life's vital 
warmth only lingered faintly in my poor throbbing 
breast. Suddenly I was caught up in the spirit and 
dragged before the Judge's judgment seat: and 
here the light was so dazzling, and the brightness 
shining from those who stood around so radiant, that 
I flung myself upon the ground and did not dare to 
look up. I was asked to state my condition and 
rephed that I was a Christian. But He who pre- 
sided said : ' Thou liest ; thou art a Ciceronian, not a 
Christian. " For where thy treasure is there will 
thy heart be also." ' ^ Straightway I became dumb, 
and amid the strokes of the whip — for He had ordered 
me to be scourged — I was even more bitterly tortured 
by the fire of conscience, considering with myself 
the verse : ' In the grave who shall give thee 
thanks ? ' ^ Yet for all that I began to cry out and 
to bewail myself, saying : * Have mercy upon me, 
O Lord, have mercy upon me ' : and even amid the 
noise of the lash my voice made itself heard. At 
last the bystanders fell at the knees of Him who 
presided, and prayed Him to pardon my youth and 
give me opportunity to repent of my error, on the 
understanding that the extreme of torture should be 
inflicted on me if ever I read again the works of 

* Psalm vi. 5. 

127 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

litterarum libros aliquando legissem. Ego, qui 
tanto constrictus articulo vellem etiam maiora pro- 
mittere, deiurare coepi et nomen eius obtestans 
dicere : ' Domine, si umquam habuero codices 
saeculares, si legero, te negavi.' 

In haec sacraraenti verba dimissus reverter ad 
superos et mirantibus omnibus oculos aperio tanto 
lacrimarum imbre perfuses, ut etiam incredulis fidem 
facerent ex dolore. Nee vero sopor ille fuerat aut 
vana somnia, quibus saepe deludimur. Teste est 
tribunal, ante quod iacui, iudicium teste est, quod 
timui — ita mihi numquam contingat talem incidere 
quaestionem ! — liventes habuisse me scapulas, plagas 
sensisse post somnum et tanto dehinc studio divina 
legisse, quanto mortalia ante non legeram. 

3L Avaritiae quoque tibi vitandum est malum, 
non quo aliena non adpetas — hoc enim et leges 
publicae puniunt, — sed quo tua, quae sunt aliena, 
non serves. ' Si in alieno,' inquit, ' fideles non fuistis, 
quod vestrum est, quis dabit vobis ? ' Aliena nobis 
auri argentique sunt pondera, nostra possessio 
spiri talis est, de qua alibi dicitur : ' Redemptio viri 
propriae divitiae.' ' Nemo potest duobus dominis 
servire ; aut enim unum odiet et alterum amabit, aut 
unum patietur et alterum contemnet. Non potestis 

1 St. Luke, xvi. 12. « Proverbs, xiii. 8. 

128 



LETTER XXII 

Gentile authors. In the stress of that dread hour 
I should have been willing to make even larger 
promises, and taking oath I called upon His name : 
' O Lord, if ever again I possess worldly books or 
read them, I have denied thee.' 

After swearing this oath I was dismissed, and 
returned to the upper world. There to the surprise 
of all I opened my eyes again, and they were so 
drenched >\ith tears, that my distress convinced even 
the incredulous. That this experience was no sleep 
nor idle dream, such as often mocks us, I call to wit- 
ness the judgment seat before which I fell and the 
terrible verdict which I feared. May it never be my 
lot again to come before such a court as that ! I 
profess that my shoulders were black and blue, and 
that I felt the bruises long after I awoke from my 
sleep. And I acknowledge that henceforth I read 
the books of God with a greater zeal than I had ever 
given before to the books of men. 

You must also avoid the sin of love of money. 
Not merely must you refuse to claim what belongs 
to another, for that is an offence punished by the 
laws of the State ; you must also give up clinging 
to your o'wn property, which has now become no 
longer yours. The Lord says : ' If ye have not 
been faithful in that which is another man's, 
who shall give you that which is your own ? ' ^ 
' That which is another man's ' is a mass of gold 
and silver ; ' that which is your own ' is the 
spiritual heritage of which it is said elsewhere : 
' The ransom of a man's hfe is his riches.' ^ ' No 
man can serve two masters, for either he will hate 
the one and love the other ; or else he will hold to 
the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve 

129 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

Deo servire et mammonae,' id est divitiis. Nam 
gentili Syrorum lingua ' mammona ' divitiae nuncu- 
pantur Cogitatio victus spinae sunt fidei, radix 
avaritiae, cura gentilium. 

At dices : ' Puella sum delicata et quae meis 
manibus laborare non possum. Si ad senectam 
venero, si aegrotare coepio, quis mei miserebitur ? ' 
Audi ad apostolos loquentem lesum : ' Ne cogitetis 
in corde vestro, quid manducetis, neque corpori 
vestro, quid induamini. Nonne anima plus est quam 
esca et corpus plus est quam vestimentum ? Respic- 
ite volatilia caeli, quoniam non serunt neque metunt 
neque congregant in horrea et pater vester caelestis 
pascit ilia.' Si vestis defuerit, lilia proponentur ; 
si esurieris, beatos audies pauperes et esurientes ; 
si aliquis adflixerit dolor, legito : ' Propter hoc con- 
placeo mihi in infirmitatibus meis,' et : ' Datus est 
mihi stimulus carnis meae, angelus Satanae, qui me 
colafizet,' ne extollar. Laetare in omnibus iudiciis 
Dei ; ' Exultaverunt,' enim, ' filiae ludae in omnibus 
iudiciis tuis, domine.' Ilia tibi semper in ore vox 
resonet : ' Nudus exivi de utero matris meae, nudus 
et redeam,' et : ' Nihil intulimus in hunc mundum nee 
auferre quid possumus.' 

32. At nunc plerasque videas armaria stipare 
vestibus, tunicas mutare cotidie et tamen tineas non 
posse superare. Quae religiosior fuerit, unum exterit 
vestimentum et plenis arcis pannos trahit. Inficitur 

1 St. Matthew, vi. 24. « St. Matthew, vi. 25. 

3 St. Matthew, vi. 28. * 2 Corinthians, xii. 7, 10. 

5 Psalm xcvii. 8. « Job, i. 21, ' 1 Timothy, vi. 7. 
130 



LETTER XXII 

God and Mammon. ' ^ By Mammon understand 
riches : for in the heathen tongue of the Syrians 
riches are so called. The thorns that choke our faith 
are the taking thought for our subsistence. Care for 
the things of the Gentiles is the root of love of money. 

But you say : ' I am a delicate girl and I cannot 
work \nth my hands. If I reach old age and fall 
sick who will take pity on me ? ' Hear Jesus speak- 
ing to the apostles : ' Take no thought what ye shall 
eat ; nor yet for your body what ye shall put on. 
Is not the life more than meat and the body more 
than raiment ? Behold the fowls of the air ; for they 
sow not, neither do they gather into barns : yet your 
heavenly Father feedeth them.'^ If clothing fail 
you, the lilies shall be put before you.^ If you are 
hungry, you shall hear how blessed are the poor 
and hungry among men. If any pain afflict you, 
read the words : ' Therefore I take pleasure in my 
infirmities,' and, * There was given to me a thorn 
in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, 
lest I should be exalted above measure.'* Rejoice 
in all God's judgments; for does not the psalmist 
say : ' The daughters of Judah rejoiced because 
of thy judgments, O Lord'? ^ Let the words be 
ever on your lips : ' Naked came I out of mv 
mother's womb and naked shall I return thither,' ^ 
and, ' We brought nothing into this world, and it is 
certain we can carry nothing out.' ' 

But to-day you see many women packing their 
wardrobes with dresses, putting on a fresh frock every 
day, and even so unable to get the better of the moth. 
The more scrupulous sort wear one dress till it is 
threadbare, but though they go about in rags their 
boxes are full of clothes. Parchments are dyed 

131 
k2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

membrana colore purpureo, aurum liquescit in 
littergjs. ejemmis codices vestiuntur et nudus ante 
fores ^aerum Christus emoritur. Cum manum por- 
rexerint, bucinant ; cum ad agapen vocaverint, 
praeco conducitur. Vidi nuper — nomina taceo, ne 
saturam putes — nobilissimam mulierum Romanarum 
in basilica beati Petri semiviris antecedentibus 
propria manu, quo religiosior putaretur, singulos 
nummos dispertire pauperibus. Interea — ut usu nosse 
perfacile est— anus quaedam annis pannisque obsita 
praecurrit, ut alterum nummum acciperet ; ad quam 
cum ordine pervenisset, pugnus porrigitur pro 
denario et tanti criminis reus sanguis eflfunditur. 

' Radix malorum omnium est avaritia,' ideoque et 
ab apostolo idolorum servitus appellatur. ' Quaere 
primum regnum Dei et haec omnia adponentur 
tibi.' Non occidet dominus fame animam iusti : 
' luvenior fui et senui et non vidi iustum derelictum 
nee semen eius quaerens panem.' Helias corvis 
ministrantibus pascitur; vidua Sareptena ipsa cum 
filiis nocte moritura prophetam pascit esuriens et 
mirum in modum capsace conpleto, qui alendus 
venerat, alit. Petrus apostolus : ' Argentum/inquit, 

et aurum non habeo ; quod autem habeo, hoc tibi 
do. In nomini domini lesu Christi surge et ambula.' 
At nunc multi, licet sermone taceant, re loquuntur : 

Fidem et misericordiam non habeo ; quod autem 

^ In the early Church the Eucharist was preceded by an 
'agape,' or love-feast. All contributed, all sat down together, 
and the meal ended with a psalm. 

2 1 Timothy, vi. 10. 

3 St. Matthew, vi. 33. 

* Psalm xxxvii. 25. 

* Acts, iii. 6. 

132 



LETTER XXII 

purple, gold is melted for lettering, manuscripts are 
decked with jewels: and Christ lies at their door 
naked and dying. When they hold a hand out to 
the needy, they sound the trumpet. When they 
invite to a love-feast,^ they hire a crier. Just lately 
I saw the greatest lady in Rome — I will not give her 
name, for this is not a satire — standing in the church 
of the blessed Peter with her band of eunuchs in 
front. She was giving money to the poor with her 
own hand to increase her reputation for sanctity ; 
and she gave them each a penny I At that moment 
— as you might easily know by experience — an 
old woman, full of years and rags, ran in front of 
the hne to get a second coin ; but when her turn 
came she got, not a penny, but the lady's fist in her 
face, and for her dreadful offence she had to pay vrith 
her blood. 

' The love of money is the root of all evil,' ^ and 
therefore the apostle calls it slavery to idols. ' Seek 
ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall 
be added unto you.'' The Lord >vill never let a 
righteous soul die of hunger. The psalmist says : 
' I have been young and now am old, yet have I not 
seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging 
bread.' ^ Elijah was fed by ministering ravens. 
The 'svidow of Zarephath, herself and her sons within 
an ace of death that night, went hungry that she 
might feed the prophet : by a miracle the flour barrel 
was filled and he who had come to be fed supplied 
food. The apostle Peter says : ' Silver and gold 
have I none, but such as I have give I thee. In the 
name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk.' ^ To-day 
many people, though they do not say it in words, 
by their deeds declare : • Faith and pity have I 

^35 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

habeo, aurum et argentum non do tibi.' Habentes 
igitur victum et vestimentum his contenti sumus. 
Audi, lacob in sua oratione quid postulet : ' Si fuerit 
dominus Deus mecum et servaverit me in via hac, 
per quam ego iter facie, et dederit mihi panem ad 
manducandum et vestem ad induendum.' Tantum 
necessaria deprecatus est et post annos viginti dives 
dominus et ditior pater ad terram revertitur Chanaan. 
Infinita de scripturis exempla subpeditant, quae et 
avaritiam doceant esse fugiendam. 

33. Verum quia nunc ex latere de ea dicitur et 
suo, ri Christus adnuerit, volumini reservatur, quid 
ante non plures annos Nitriae gestum sit, referam. 
Quidam e fratribus parcior magis quam avarior et 
nesciens triginta argenteis dominum venditum 
centum solidos, quos lina texendo quaesierat, moriens 
dereliquit. Initum inter monachos consilium — nam 
in eodem loco circiter quinque milia divisis cellulis 
habitant — quid facto opus est. Alii pauperibus 
distribuendos esse dicebant, alii dandos ecclesiae, 
nonnulli parentibus remittendos. Macarius vero et 
Pambos et Isidorus et ceteri, quos patres vocant, 
sancto in eis loquente spiritu decreverunt infodiendos 
esse cum domino suo dicentes : ' Pecunia tua tecum 
in perditionem.' Nee hoc crudeliter quisquam 
factum putet : tantus per totam Aegyptum cunctos 
terror invasit, ut unum solidum dimisisse sit 
criminis. 

34. Et quoniam monachorum fecimus mentionem 
et te scio libenter audire, quae sancta sunt, aurem 
paulisper adcommoda. Tria sunt in Aegypto genera 



^ Genesis, xxvlii. 20. 

* Cf. Index and Appendix, p. 484. * Acts, viii. 20. 



134 



LETTER XXII 

none ; but such as I have, gold and silver, these give 
I thee not.' Having food and raiment let us be 
content. Hear the words of Jacob in his prayer: 
' If God will be with me and ^vill keep me in this way 
that I go, and will give me bread to eat and raiment 
to put on, then shall the Lord be my God.' ^ He 
prayed only for necessities ; yet twenty years after- 
wards he returned to the land of Canaan, rich in goods 
and richer still in children. Endless are the examples 
that Scripture supplies teaching us to beware of 
love of money. 

As I have touched on this subject — if Christ allows 
I keep it for a special book — I will relate an incident 
that occurred not many years ago at Nitria. A 
brother, rather thrifty than avaricious, forgetting 
that the Lord was sold for thirty pieces of silver, left 
behind him at his death a hundred gold coins which 
he had earned by weaving linen. The monks held 
a council as to what was to be done with it, for there 
were about five thousand of them in the neighbour- 
hood li\ing in separate cells ; some said that the 
monev should be distributed among the poor ; others 
that it should be given to the Church ; others that it 
should be sent back to the dead man's parents. But 
Macarius, Pambos, Isidore,- and the other Fathers, 
the Holy Spirit speaking by them, decreed that the 
coins should be buried with their owner, saving : 
' Thy money perish with thee.' ^ Let no one think 
their decision too harsh ; for so great a fear has 
fallen upon all in Egypt that it is now a crime to 
leave a single gold piece. 

Since I have mentioned the monks, and know that 
you like to hear about holy things, lend me your 
ear awhile. There are in Egypt three classes of 

135 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

monachorum : coenobium, quod illi ' sauhes ' gentili 
lingua vocant, nos ' in commune viventes ' possumus 
appellare ; anchoretae, qui soli habitant per deserta 
et ab eo, quod proeul ab hominibus recesserint, 
nuncupantur ; tertium genus est, quod dicunt 
' remnuoth,' deterrimum atque neglectum et quod 
in nostra provincia aut solum aut primum est. Hi 
bini vel terni nee multo plures simul habitant suo 
arbitratu ac dicione viventes, et de eo, quod labora- 
verint, in medium partes conferunt, ut habeant ali- 
menta.cqmmunia. Habitant autem quam plurimum 
in urbis et castellis, et, quasi ars sit sancta, non vita, 
quidquid vendiderint, maioris est pretii. Inter hos 
saepe sunt iurgia, quia suo viventes cibo non patiuntur 
se aljcui esse subiectos. Re vera solent certare 
ieiuniis et rem secreti victoriae faciunt. Apud hos 
afFectata sunt omnia : laxae manicae, caligae folli- 
cantes, vestis grossior, crebra suspiria, visitatio 
virginum, detractatio elericorurn, et si quando festior 
dies venerit, saturantur ad vomitum, 

35. His igitur quasi quibusdam pestibus exter- 
minatis veniamus ad eos, qui plures in commune 
habitant, id est, quos vocari coenobium diximus. 
Prima apud eos confoederatio est oboedire maioribus 
et, quidquid iusserint, facere. Divisi sunt per 
decurias atque centurias, ita ut novem hominibus 
decimus praesit et rursus decem praepositos sub se 
centesimus habeat. Manent separati, sed iunctis 

1 From Koivos pCos, living a life in common. 
^ An Egyptian word not elsewhere found. 
^ From dvaxoipely, to withdraw. 

* Monks who lived in groups under no fixed ruje. Cf. 
Cassian. Collat. xviii. 7. 

* I.e. Pannonia, 

136 



LETTER XXII 

monks. First, there are the cenobites/ called in 
their Gentile tongue Sauhes,^ or, as we should say, 
men Uving in a community. Secondly, there are 
the anchorites,^ who live in the desert as solitaries, 
so called because they have withdrawn from the 
society of men. Thirdly, there is the class called 
Remnuoth,^ a very inferior and despised kind, though 
in my own province^ they are the chief if not the only 
sort of monks. These men hve together in twos and 
threes, seldom in larger nimabers, and live according 
to their ovm \^ill and ruling. A portion of what 
they make they contribute to a common fund which 
provides food for all. In most cases they Uve in 
cities or in fortified places, and anything they sell 
is very dear, the idea being that their workmanship, 
not their life, is sanctified. Quarrels are frequent 
among them ; for while they supply their own food, 
they will not brook subordination. It is true that 
they compete yvith one another in fasting, making 
what should be a private matter an occasion for a 
triumph. Everything with them is done for effect : 
loose sleeves, big boots, clumsy dress, constant 
sighing, visiting virgins, disparaging the clergy, and 
when a feast day comes, they eat so much that they 
make themselves ill. 

Avoiding these then as though they were the 
plague, let us come to the more numerous class who 
live together and are called, as we have said, ceno- 
bites. Among them the first principle of their 
association is to obey superiors and do whatever 
they command. They are divided into sections of 
ten and a hundred ; each tenth man is over nine 
others, while the hundredth has ten such officers 
under him. They live apart from each other, but 

^37 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

cellulis. Usque ad horam nonam quasi iustitium 
est : nemo pergit ad alium exceptis his, quos decanos 
diximus, ut, si cogitationibus forte quis fluctuat, 
illius consoletur alloquiis. Post horam nonam in 
commune concurritur, psalmi resonant, scripturae ex 
more recitantur et conpletis orationibus cunctisque 
residentibus medius, quem patrem vocant, incipit 
disputare. Quo loquente tantum silentium fit, ut 
nemo ad ahum respicere, nemo audeat excreare. 
Dicentis laus in fletu est audientum. Tacite vol- 
vuntur per ora lacrimae et ne in singultus quidem 
erumpit dolor. Cum vero de regno Christi, de futura 
beatitudine, de gloria coeperit adnuntiare ventura, 
videas cunctos moderato suspirio et oculis ad caelum 
levatis intra se dicere : ' Quis dabit mihi pinnas sicut 
columbae, et volabo et requiescam ? ' 

Post hoc concilium solvitur et unaquaeque decuria 
cum suo parente pergit ad mensas, quibus per singu- 
las ebdomadas vicissim ministrant. Nullus in cibo 
strepitus, nemo comedens loquitur. Vivuntur pane, 
leguminibus et olere, quae sale et oleo condiuntur. 
Vinum tantum senes accipiunt, quibus et parvulis 
saepe fit prandium, ut aliorum fessa sustentetur 
aetas, aliorum non frangatur incipiens. Dehinc 
consurgunt pariter et hymno dicto ad praesepia 
redeunt. Ibi usque ad vesperam cum suis unus- 
quisque loquitur et dicit : ' Vidistis ilium et ilium, 

^ Psalm Iv. 6. 

138 



LETTER XXII 

in adjoining cells. No monk may visit another 
before three o'clock in the afternoon, except only 
the deans or leaders of ten, whose business it is 
to comfort ^^^th soothing words any one disturbed 
by restless thoughts : until then, there is a cessa- 
tion of all business. After three o'clock they 
meet together to sing psalms and duly read the 
Scriptures. When the prayers have ended and all 
have sat down, one, whom they call Father, stands 
up in their midst and discourses ; a silence so com- 
plete being observed while he is speaking that no 
one dares to look at his neighbour or to clear his 
throat. The highest praise that can be given to 
the preacher is the weeping of his audience. But 
the tears that run down their cheeks are silent, and 
not even a sob reveals their emotion. But when he 
begins to announce the kingdom of Christ, the future 
happiness, and the coming glory you may see every- 
one with a gentle sigh and lifted gaze saying to 
himself: ' Oh, that I had the wings of a dove. For 
then would I fly away and be at rest.' ^ 

After the discourse the meeting breaks up, and 
each set of ten goes -v^ith its Father to its own table ; 
taking turns to serve, each man for a week at a time. 
No noise is made over the food ; no one talks while 
eating. The fare consists of bread, pulse and greens, 
and salt and oil is their only condiment. The old 
men alone receive ^vine, they often ha\ing a special 
meal prepared in company with the children, so that 
the weariness of age is refreshed and the weakness 
of childhood is not impaired. They then rise from 
table together and after singing a hymn return to 
their quarters. There each one talks till evening 
with his friends thus : * Have you noticed So-and- 

139 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

quanta in ipso sit gratia, quantum silentium, quam 
moderatus incessus ? ' Si infirmum viderint, conso- 
lantur ; si in Deo amore ferventem, cohortantur ad 
studium. Et quia nocte extra orationes publieas ni 
suo cubili unusquisque vigilat, circumeunt cellulas 
singulorum et aure adposita, quid faciant, diligenter 
explorant. Quern tardiorem deprehenderint, non 
increpant, sed dissimulate, quod norunt, eum saepius 
visitant et prius incipientes provocant magis orare, 
quam cogunt. Opus diei statutum est, quod decano 
redditum fertur ad oeconomicum, qui et ipse per 
singulos menses patri omnium cum magno reddit 
tremore rationem. A quo etiam cibi, cum facti 
fuerint, degustantur et, quia non licet dicere cui- 
quam : ' Tunicam et sagum textaque iuncis strata 
non habeo,' ille ita universa moderatur, ut nemo quid 
postulet, nemo dehabeat. Si vero quis coeperit 
aegrotare, transfertur ad exedram latiorem et tanto 
senum ministerio confovetur, ut nee delicias urbium 
nee matris quaerat affectum. Dominicis diebus 
oratione tantum et lectionibus vacant ; quod quidem 
et omni tempore conpletis opusculis faciunt. Cotidie 
de scripturis aliquid discitur. leiunium totius anni 
aequale est excepta quadragesima, in qua sola 
conceditur restrictius vivere. Pentecoste cenae 
mutantur in prandia, quo et traditioni ecclesiasticae 
satisfiat et ventrem cibo non onerent duplicate. 
Tales Philo, Platonici sermonis imitator, tales lose- 

140 



LETTER XXII 

so ? What grace he has and what powers of silence ! 
How soberly he walks ! ' If they see that any one 
is weak, they comfort him : if he is fervent in love 
for God, they encourage his zeal. At night, besides 
the common prayers, each man keeps vigil in his own 
chamber ; and so the deans go round to each cell, 
and putting their ears to the doors carefully ascertain 
what the inmates are doing. If they catch a monk 
in slothfulness, they do not upbraid him : but, hiding 
what they know, they \isit him more frequently, 
and by beginning themselves to pray exhort rather 
than drive him to his devotions. Every day has its 
allotted task : the work done is handed to a dean 
and by him brought to the bursar, who once a 
month with fear and trembling gives an account to 
the Community Father. The bursar also. tastes the 
dishes when they are cooked, and as no one is 
allowed to say : ' I am without a tunic or a cloak or 
a rush mattress,' he so arranges their entire store 
that none need ask and none go \\ithout. If any one 
is taken ill, he is moved to a larger room, and is 
there so sedulously tended by the older monks, that 
he misses neither the luxuries of cities nor a mother's 
loving care. Every Lord's day they give their whole 
time to prayer and reading : which indeed are their 
usual occupations on ordinary days when work is 
over. Every day they learn by heart a passage of 
Scripture. Fasting is regular throughout the year, but 
in Lent alone an increase of strictness is permitted. 
After WTiitsuntide a midday meal takes the place 
of the evening repast, and thus the tradition of the 
Church is satisfied and they avoid overloading their 
stomachs with a double quantity of food. The 
Essenes also follow these rules, as we learn from 

141 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

phus, Graecus Livius, in secunda ludaicae captivi- 
tatis historia Essenos refert. 

36. Verum quia nunc de virginibus scribens paene 
superflue de monachis disputavi, ad tertium genus 
veniam, quos anchoretas vocant et qui de coenobiis 
exeuntes excepto pane et sale amplius ad deserta nil 
perferunt. Huius vitae auctor Paulus, inlustrator 
Antonius et, ut ad superiora conscendam, princeps 
lohannes baptista fuit. Talem virum Hieremias 
quoque propheta descripsit dicens : ' Bonum est viro, 
cum portaverit iugum ab adulescentia sua. Sedebit 
solus et tacebit, quoniam sustulit super se iugum, 
dabit percutienti se maxillam, saturabitur inproperiis, 
quia non in sempiternum abiciet dominus.' Horum 
laborem et conversationem in came, non carnis, alio 
tempore, sivolueris, explicabo. Nunc ad propositum 
redeam, quia de avaritia disserens ad monachos 
verteram. Quorum tibi exempla proponens, non 
dicam aurum et argentum et ceteras opes, sed ipsam 
terram caelumque despicies et Christo copulata 
cantabis : ' Pars mea dominus.' 

37. Post haec, quamquam apostolus semper orare 
nos iubeat et Sanctis etiam ipse somnus oratio sit, 
tamen divisas orandi horas habere debemus, ut si 
forte aliquo fuerimus opere detenti, ipsum nos ad 
officium tempus admoneat : horam tertiam, sextam, 
nonam, diluculum quoque et vesperam nemo qui 
nesciat. Nee cibus a te sumatur nisi oratione 
praemissa nee recedatur a mensa, nisi referantur 

^ Cf. Josephus, Jewish War, II. 8. 

2 Paul the hermit, whose life Jerome wrote. 

3 Cf. index. 

* Lamentations, iii. 27. 

* Psalm Ixxiii. 26. 
142 



LETTER XXII 

Philo, Plato's imitator, and from Josephus,i the Greek 
Livy, in the second book of his Jervish Captivity. 

However, as I am wTiting now about \-irgins, all 
these details about monks may seem rather super- 
fluous. I will proceed to the third class, who are 
called anchorites. They go out from a monastery 
and live in the desert, taking nothing ^^•ith them but 
bread and salt. The founder of the system was 
Paul,2 and Antony ^ made it famous : going back, the 
first example was given by John the Baptist. The 
prophet Jeremiah also describes such a solitary-: 
' It is good for a man that he bear the yoke from his 
youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, 
because he hath borne it upon him. He giveth his 
cheek to him that smiteth him, he is filled full of 
reproach. For the Lord will not cast off for ever.' ^ 
The struggles of the anchorites and their hfe, in 
the flesh but not of the flesh, I ^vill unfold to you 
on some other occasion, if you ^^ish. Let me now 
return to my subject, for I was speaking of love of 
money when I digressed to the monks. With them 
as examples before you, you will look do\^'n not only 
on gold and silver and worldly possessions, but even 
on earth itself and the sky. United to Christ, you 
v>\\\ sing : ' The Lord is my portion.' = 

Moreover, although the apostle bids us to pray 
without ceasing and although to the saints their 
very sleep is an orison, yet we ought to have fixed 
hours for prayer, so that if perchance we are occupied 
^^-ith any business the time itself may remind us of 
our duty. Every one knows that the set times are 
the third, the sixth, and the ninth hours, at dawn 
and at evening. No food should be taken except 
after prayer, and before leaving the table thanks 

143 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

gratiae creatori. Noctibus bis terque surgendum, 
revolvenda de scripturis, quae memoriter tenemus. 
Egredientes hospitium armet oratio, regredientibus 
de platea oratio occurrat ante, quam sessio, nee 
prius corpusculum requiescat, quam anima pascatur. 
Ad omnem actum, ad omnem incessum manus pingat 
crucem. Nulli detrahas nee adversus filium matris 
tuae ponas scandalum. ' Tu quae es, ut alienum 
servum judices ? Suo domino stat aut cadit. 
Stabit autem ; potens est enim Deus statuere 
ilium.' Nee, si biduo ieiunaveris, putes te non 
ieiunante meliorem. Tu ieiunas et irasceris, ille 
comedit et forte blanditur ; tu vexationem mentis 
et ventris esuriem rixando digeris, ille moderatius 
alitur et Deo gratias refert. Unde cotidie clamat 
Esaias : ' Non tale ieiunium elegi, dieit dominus,' 
et iterum : ' In diebus enim ieiuniorum invenientur 
voluntates vestrae et omnes, qui sub potestate vestra 
eunt, stimulatis. <^Si)> in iudiciis et litibus ieiunatis 
et percutitis pugnis humilem, ut quid mihi ieiunatis ? ' 
Quale illud potest esse ieiunium, cuius iram, non 
dicam nox occupat, sed luna integra derelinquit ? 
Te ipsam considerans noli in alterius ruina, sed in 
tuo opere gloriari. 

38. Nee illarum tibi exempla proponas, quae 
carnis curam facientes possessionum reditus et 
cotidianas domus impensas subputant. Neque enim 
undecim apostoli ludae proditione sunt fracti nee 



^ Romans, xiv. 4. ^ Isaiah, Iviii. 5. 

* Isaiah, Iviii. 3. 



144 



LETTER XXII 

should be rendered to our Creator. We should rise 
from our bed two or three times in the night, and 
go over those passages of Scripture which we know 
by heart. Let prayer arm us when we leave our 
lodging : when we return from the streets let us 
pray before we sit down, nor give our miserable body 
rest until our soul is fed. In everything we do, in 
every step we take let our hand trace the sign of 
the Lord's cross. Speak against no one, and slander 
not thy mother's son. ' Who art thou that judgest 
the servant of another ? To his own lord he standeth 
or falleth ; yea, he shall be made to stand, for the 
Lopd hath power to make him stand. ' ^ If you have 
fasted for the space of two or three days, do not 
think that you are better than those who have not 
fasted. You fast and are angry ; another eats and 
wears a smiling face. You work off your irritation 
and hunger by quarrelling -snth others ; your neigh- 
bour feeds in moderation and gives thanks to God. 
Therefore Isaiah proclaims to us every day : ' Is it 
such a fast, that I have chosen, saith the Lord ? ' ^ 
And again : ' In the day of your fast ye find your 
own pleasure and oppress all your labourers. If 
ye fast for strife and contention and to smite with 
the fist of wickedness, how fast ye unto me ? ' ^ 
What sort of fast can that be when not onlv does 
the night fall upon a man's ^^Tath, but even the full 
moon leaves it unchanged ? Look to yourself and 
glory not in the fall of others, but only in your own 
works. 

Neither take pattern by those women who have 
thought for the flesh, and are always reckoning up 
their income and their daily household expenditure. 
For the eleven apostles did not weaken by Judas' 

145 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

Phygelo et Alexandre faciente naufragium ceteri a 
cursu fidei substiterunt. Nee dicas : ' Ilia et ilia 
suis rebus fruitur ; honoratur ab omnibus ; fratres 
ad earn conveniunt et sorores : numquid ideo virgo 
esse desivit ? ' Primum dubium, an virgo sit talis. 
' Non enim, quomodo videt homo, videbit Deus. 
Homo videt in facie, Deus videt in corde.' Dehinc, 
etiam si corpore virgo est, an spiritu virgo sit, nescio. 
Apostolus autem ita virginem definivit : ' Ut sit 
sancta et corpore et spiritu.' Ad extremum habeat 
sibi gloriam suam ; vincat Pauli sententiam, deliciis 
fruatur et vivat ! Nos meliora exempla sectemur. 

Propone tibi beatam Mariam, quae tantae extitit 
puritatis, ut mater esse domini mereretur. Ad 
quam cum angelus Gabriel in viri specie descendisset 
dicens : ' Ave, gratia plena, dominus tecum,' con- 
sternata respondere non potuit ; nunquam enim a viro 
fuit salutata. Denique nuntium discit et loquitur 
et, quae hominem formidarat, cum angelo fabulatur 
intrepida. Potes et tu esse mater domini. ' Accipe 
tibi tomum magnum, novum et scribe in eo stilo 
hominis velociter spolia detrahentis,' et, cum acces- 
seris ad prophetissam et conceperis in utero et 
pepereris filium, die : ' A timore tuo, domine, con- 
cepimus et doluimus et pepei-imus ; spiritum salva- 
tionis tuae fecimus super terram.' Tunc et filius tuus 



1 2 Timothy, i. 15. ^ j Timothy, i. 19, 20. 

* 1 Samuel, xvi. 7. * 1 Corinthians, vii. 34. 
'' Isaiah, viii. 

* Isaiah, viii. 3, ' and I went unto the prophetess and she 
conceived and bare a son.' Jerome, however, puts his own 
interpretation on the Hebrew, and ' prophetess ' should here 
be 'prophet.' 'As it stands the quotation is meaningless' 
(Fremantle). ' Isaiah, xxvi. 18. (Vulgate.) 

146 



LETTER XXII 

treachery ; and though Phygellus ^ and Alexander * 
made ship>vreck the rest did not falter in the race 
of faith. Nor say : ' So-and-so enjoys her oa\ti 
property ; she is honoured by men ; the brethren and 
the sisters assemble at her house. Has she ceased to 
be a \irgin for that : ' In the first place, it is doubtful 
if such an one is a \irgin. ' For the Lord will 
not see as man seeth ; for man looketh upon the 
outward appearance, but the Lord looketh upon 
the heart.' ^ Furthermore, even if she is a ^irgin 
in body, I am not sure that she is a wgin in spirit. 
The apostle has defined a \irgin thus : ' She must 
be holy both in body and in spirit.' •* In fine, let 
her keep her own glory to the last. Let her over- 
ride Paul's judgment; let her enjoy her good things 
and live ! Let us follow better examples. 

Set before your eyes the blessed Mary, whose t 
purity was such that she earned the reward of being 
the mother of the Lord. 'AVhen the angel Gabriel 
came down to her in man's form, and said : ' Hail, 
thou that art highly favoured ; the Lord is \^ith 
thee,' she was filled with terror and consternation 
and could not reply ; for she had never been greeted 
by a man before. Soon, however, she learned who the 
messenger was, and spoke to him : she who had been 
afraid of a man conversed fearlessly with an angel. ^' 
You too may be perhaps the Lord's mother. ' Take 
thee a great new roll and •write in it \i\\\v the pen of 
a man who is swiftlv carrying off the spoils,'^ and 
when you have gone to the prophetess, and conceived 
in your womb and brought forth a son,^ say : ' Lord, 
we have been A^ith child by thy fear, we have been 
in pain, we have brought forth thy spirit of thv 
salvation which we have wrought upon the earth.' ' 

147 
l2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

tibi respondebit et dicet : ' Ecce mater mea et fratres 
mei.' Et mirum in modum ille, quern in latitudine 
pectoris tui paulo ante descripseras, quem in novitate 
cordis stilo volante signaveras, postquam spolia ex 
hostibus ceperit, postquam denudaverit principatus 
et potestates et adfixerit eas cruci, conceptus ado- 
lescit et maior efFectus sponsam te incipit habere de 
matre. Grandis labor, sed grande praemium esse, 
quod martyras, esse, quod apostolos, esse, quod 
Christus est. 

Quae quidem uni versa tunc prosunt, cum in 
ecclesia fiunt, cum in una domo pascha celebramus, si 
arcam ingredimur cum Noe, si pereunte Hierico 
Raab iustificata nos continet. Ceterum virgines, 
quales apud diversas hereses et quales apud inpuris- 
simum Manicheum esse dicuntur, scorta sunt aesti- 
manda, non virgines. Si enim corporis earum auctor 
est diabolus, quomodo possunt honorare plasticam 
hostis sui ? Sed quia sc'iunt virginale vocabulum 
gloriosum, sub ovium pellibus lupos tegunt. Chris- 
tum mentitur antichristus et turpitudinem vitae 
falso nominis honore convestiunt. Gaude, soror, 
gaude, fiUa, gaude, mi virgo : quod ahae simulant, 
tu vere esse coepisti. 

39. Haec omnia, quae digessimus, dura videbuntur 
ei, qui non amat Christum. Qui autem omnem 
saeculi pompam pro purgamento habuerit et vana 
duxerit universa sub sole, ut Christum lucrifaciat, 
qui conmortuus est domino suo et conresurrexit et 
crucifixit carnem cum vitiis et concupiscentiis, Ubere 



1 St. Matthew, xii. 49. 

* Founder of the sect of the Manicheans, who believed that 
matter as such is essentially evil. 



LETTER XXII 

Then shall your son reply : ' Behold my mother and 
my brethren.' ^ And He whose name just before 
you had inscribed upon the tablet of your heart, and 
had MTitten with a pen upon its new surface, after 
He has recovered the spoils from the enemies and 
has stripped principalities and powers, nailing them 
to His cross, He haxing been conceived grows to 
manhood, and as He becomes older regards you 
not as His mother but as His bride. To be as the 
mart}-rs, or as the apostles, or as Christ, is a great 
struggle, but for that struggle there is a great reward. 

All such efforts are only of avail when they are 
made within the Church ; when we celebrate the 
passover in one house ; if we enter the ark -with 
Noah ; if, while Jericho is falling, we shelter beneath 
the roof of the justified harlot Rahab. Such virgins 
as there are said to be among the different kinds of 
heretics, or ^^•ith the follo^vers of the filthy Manes,^ 
must be considered, not virgins, but prostitutes. If 
the de\'il is the author of their body, how can they 
honour a thing fashioned by their foe ? It is because 
they know that the name of \-irgin brings glory with 
it that they go about as wolves in sheep's clothing. 
Antichrist pretends to be Christ : and even so they 
falsely cloak their shameful lives under an honour- 
able title. Rejoice, my sister ; rejoice, my daughter ; 
rejoice, my \'irgin ; you have begun to be in truth 
that which these others only feign to be. 

All the things that I have set out in this letter 
•will seem hard to her who loves not Christ. But 
one who regards all the pomp of this world as dross, 
and holds everj'thing under the sun as vain, if only 
he may win Christ ; one who has died with his Lord 
and risen again and crucified the flesh ^vith its weak- 

149 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

proclamabit : ' Quis nos separabit a caritate Christi ? 
tribulatio ? an angustia ? an persecutio ? an famis ? 
an nuditas ? an periculum ? an gladius ? ' Et 
iterum : ' Certus autem sum, quia neque mors neque 
vita neque angelus neque principatus neque instantia 
neque futura neque fortitudo neque excelsum neque 
profundum neque alia creatura poterit nos separare a 
caritate Dei, quae est in Christo lesu domino nostrc' 
Dei filius pro nostra salute hominis factus est filius, 
decern mensibus in utero, ut nascatur, expectat, 
fastidia sustinet, cruentus egeritur, involvitur pannis, 
blanditiis deridetur et ille, cuius pugillo mundus 
includitur, praesepis continetur angustiis. Taceo, 
quod usque ad tricesimum annum ignobilis parentum 
paupertate contentus est : verberabatur et tacet ; 
crucifigitur et pro crucifigentibus deprecatur. ' Quid,' 
igitur, ' retribuam domino pro omnibus, quae retribuit 
mihi? Calicem salutaris accipiam et nomen domini 
invocabo, Pretiosa in conspectu domini mors sanc- 
torum eius.' Haec est sola digna retributio, cum 
sanguis sanguine compensatur et rederapti cruore 
Christi pro redemptore libenter obcumbimus. Quis 
sanctorum sine certamine coronatus est ? Abel iustus 
occiditur ; Abraham uxorem periclitatur amittere et, 
ne in inmensum volumen extendam, quaere et in- 
venies singulos diversa perpessos. Solus in deliciis 
Salomon fuit, et forsitan ideo corruit. ' Quem enim 
diligit dominus, corripit ; castigat autem omnem 

^ Romans, viii. 35-38. * Psalm cxvi. 12. 



LETTER XXII 

nesses and lusts ; he Mill freely cry : ' Who shall 
separate us from the love of Christ ? Shall tribula- 
tion, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or naked- 
ness, or peril, or sword ? ' ^ And again : ' I am per- 
suaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor 
principahties nor powers, nor things present, nor 
things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other 
creature shall be able to separate us from the love 
of God which is in Jesus Christ, our Lord.' 

For our salvation the Son of God became the 
Son of Man. Ten months He awaits birth in the 
womb, He endures distress, He comes forth covered 
with blood. He is swathed in napkins. He is com- 
forted with caresses. Though He holds the world 
in His closed hand, He is contained by the narrow 
space of a manger. I say nothing of the thirty 
years He lived in obscurity, content ^^•ith His parents' 
poverty. He was scourged and says not a word. He 
is crucified and prays for His crucifiers. ' What then 
shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits 
towards me ? I 'v^ill take the cup of salvation and 
call upon the name of the Lord. Precious in the 
sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.' ^ The 
only fitting return we can make Him is to pav for 
blood with blood ; and as we are redeemed by the 
blood of Christ, to die wilUngly for our Redeemer. 
WTiat saint was ever crowned Avithout a contest? 
Righteous Abel is murdered. Abraham runs the 
risk of losing his wife. And, not to enlarge my 
screed beyond all measm-e, look for yourself and vou 
will find that all the saints have suffered adversity. 
Solomon alone hved in luxury, and that is perhaps 
the reason why he fell. ' For whom the Lord loveth 
He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He 

151 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

filium quem recipit.' Nonne melius est brevi tempore 
dimicare, ferre vallum, arma, cibaria, lassescere sub 
lorica et postea gaudere victorem, quam inpatientia 
unius horae servire perpetuo ? 

40. Nihil amantibus durum est, nullus difficilis 
cupienti labor. Respice, quanta lacob pro Rachel 
pacta uxore sustineat. ' Etservivit,'inquitscriptura, 
' lacob pro Rachel annis septem. Et erant in con- 
spectu eius quasi pauci dies, quia amabat illam.' 
Unde et ipse postea memorat : ' In die urebar aestu 
et gelu nocte.' Amemus et nos Christum, semper 
eius quaeramus amplexus, et facile videbitur omne 
difficile. Brevia putabimus universa, quae longa 
sunt, et iaculo illius vulnerati per horarum momenta 
dicimus : ' Heu me, quia peregrinatio mea pro- 
longata est.' ' Non sunt,' enim, ' condignae passiones 
huius mundi ad futuram gloriam, quae revelabitur in 
nobis ' ; ' quiatribulatio patientiam operatur, patientia 
probationem, probatio autem spem, spes vero non 
confundit.' Quando tibi grave videtur esse, quod 
sustines, Pauli secundam ad Corinthios lege : ' In 
laboribus plurimis, in carceribus abundantius, in 
plagis supra modum, in mortibus frequenter — a 
ludaeis quinquies quadragenas una minus accepi, ter 
virgis caesus sum, semel lapidatus sum, ter nau- 
fragium feci — nocte et die in profundo maris fui, in 
itineribus saepius, periculis fluminum, periculis 
latronum, periculis ex genere, periculis ex gentibus, 
periculis in civitate, periculis in deserto, periculis in 

^ Hebrews, xii. 6. 

^ A Roman soldier carried a stake, which he fixed in the 
ground at the end of the day's march as part of the rampart 
round the camp. 

' Genesis, xxix. 20. 



JLETTER XXII 

receiveth.' ^ Is it not better to fight for a short 
space, to carry a camp-stake,^ to put on arms, to faint 
beneath a breastplate, and then to know the joy of 
victor}', rather than to become slaves for ever because 
we could not hold out for a single hour ? 

Love finds nothing hard : no task is difficult if you 
wish to do it. Consider all that Jacob bore to win 
Rachel, his promised bride. The Scripture tells us : 
' Jacob served seven years for Rachel. And they 
seemed to him but a few days for the love he had 
to her.'^ So he himself afterwards says: ' In the 
day the drought consumed me and the frost by 
night.'* Let us also love Christ and ever seek His 
embraces. Then everything difficult v,-i\\ seem easy ; 
all things long we shall think to be short ; and 
smitten with His javelin we shall say as each hour 
passes : ' Woe is me that I have prolonged my 
pilgrimage.' ° ' For the sufferings of this presisnt 
time are not worthy to be compared A\-ith the glory 
that shall be revealed in us.' ^ ' Tribulation worketh 
patience, and patience experience, and experience 
hope; and hope maketh not ashamed.'' WTien- 
ever your lot seems hard, read Paul's second epistle 
to the Corinthians : ' In labours more abundant ; 
in stripes above measure ; in prisons more frequent ; 
in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I 
forty stripes save one ; thrice was I beaten with 
rods ; once was I stoned ; thrice I suffered ship- 
wreck ; a night and a day have I been in the deep ; 
in joumeyings often, in perils of robbers, in perils 
by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, 
in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in 

* Genesis, xxxi. 40. * Psalm cxix. 5. (Vulgate.) 

• Romans, viii. 18. ' Romans, v. 3. 

153 



SELECT LETTERS OF SX- JEROME 

mare, periculis in falsis fratribus, in laboribus, in 
miseriis, in vigiliis multis, in fame et siti, in ieiuniis 
plurimis, in frigore et nuditate.' Quis nostrum 
saltim minimam portionem de catalogo harum sibi 
potest vindicare virtutum? Utique ille postea con- 
fidenter aiebat : ' Cursumconsummavi,fidemservavi. 
Superest mihi corona iustitiae, quam retribuet mihi 
dominus.' 

Si cibus insulsior fuerit, contristamur et putamus 
nos Deo praestare beneficium, cum aquatius bibimus : 
calix frangitur, mensa subvertitur, verbera sonant et 
aqua tepidior sanguine vindicatur. ' Regnum cae- 
lorum vim patitur et violenti diripiunt illud.' Nisi 
vim feceris, caelorum regna non capies. Nisi pul- 
saveris inportune, panem non accipies sacramenti. 
An non tibi videtur esse violenti, cum caro cupit esse, 
quod Deus est, et illuc, unde angeli corruerunt, 
angelos iudicatura conscendere ? 

4L Egredere, quaeso, paulisper e corpore et 
praesentis laboris ante oculos tuos pinge mercedem, 
quam ' nee oculus vidit nee auris audivit nee in cor 
hominis ascendit.' Qualis erit ilia dies, cum tibi 
Maria, mater domini, choris occurret comitata vir- 
gineis, cum post Rubrum Mare et submersum cum 
suo exercitu Pharaonem tympanum tenens praecinet 

1 2 Corinthians, xi. 23. ^ 2 Timothy, iv. 7. 

* St. Matthew, xi. 12. * 1 Corinthians, vi. 3. 

* 1 Corinthians, ii. 9. 



LETTER XXII 

perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren, in 
weariness, and painfulness, in watchings often, in 
hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and 
nakedness.' ^ Who of us at least can claim for him- 
self the smallest part of this catalogue of virtues ? 
Certainly he could afterwards boldly say : ' I have 
finished my course, I have kept the faith. Hence- 
forth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness 
which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me 
at that day.' ^ 

And yet we frown if our food seems to lack savour, 
and fancy that we are doing God a favour when 
we drink water with our wine. If that water is a 
trifle too warm, the servant must pay for it with, his 
blood : we smash the cup, knock the table over, and 
the whip whistles in the air. ' The kingdom of 
heaven sufFereth violence and the violent take it by 
force.' ^ Unless you use violence you will never 
seize the kinordom of heaven. Unless vou knock 
importunately you will never receive the sacramental 
bread. Does it not seem to you to be truly violence 
when the flesh desires to be as God and to ascend 
to the place whence angels fell that it may judge 
angels ? * 

Come out, I pray you, awhile from your prison- 
house, and picture before your eyes the reward of 
your present labours, a reward ' which eye hath 
not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered 
into the heart of man.' = WTiat will be the splendour 
of that day, when Mary, the mother of the Lord, 
shall come to meet you, attended by her bands of 
virgins : when, the Red Sea past and Pharaoh with 
his hosts drowned beneath its waves, one, with 
timbrel in her hand, shall chant to her responsive 

155 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

responsuris : ' Cantemus domino ; gloriose enim 
magnificatus est. Equum et ascensorem proiecit in 
mare.' Tunc Thecla in tuos laeta volabit amplexus. 
Tunc et ipse sponsus occurret et dicet : ' Surge, veni, 
proxima mea, speciosa mea, columba mea, quia ecce 
hiemps transiit, pluvia abiit sibi.' Tunc angeli mira- 
buntur et dicent : ' Quae est ista prospiciens quasi 
diluculum, speciosa ut luna, electa ut sol ? ' Videbunt 
te filiae et laudabunt te reginae et concubinae te 
praedicabunt. Tunc et alius castitatis chorus occur- 
ret : Sarra cum nuptis veniet, filia Phanuelis Anna 
cum viduis. Erunt ut in diversis gregibus, carnis et 
spiritus, matres tuae. Laetabitur ilia, quod genuit; 
exultabit ista, quod docuit. Tunc vere super asinam 
dominus ascendet et caelestem ingredietur Hieru- 
salem. Tunc parvuli, de quibus in Esaia salvator 
efFatur : ' Ecce ego et pueri, quos mihi dedit dominus,' 
palmas victoriae sublevantes consono ore cantabunt : 
* Osanna in excelsis ; benedictus, qui venit in nomine 
domini, osanna in excelsis.' Tunc centum quadra- 
ginta quattuor milia in conspectu throni et seniorum 
tenebunt citharas et cantabunt canticum novum et 
nemo poterit scire canticum illud, nisi numerus 
definitus : * Hi sunt, qui se cum mulieribus non 
coinquinaverunt — virgines enim permanserunt ; hi 
sunt, qui secuntur agnum, quocumque vadit.' Quo- 
tienscumque te vana saeculi delectarit ambitio, quo- 

1 Exodus, XV. 21. 

* A virgin of Iconium said to have been converted by Paul. 
' Song of Solomon, ii. 10. 

* Song of Solomon, vi. 9 (slightly altered), 10. 
s Cf. St. Luke, ii. 36. 

* I.e. Paula and Marcella. Cf. Appendix, p. 487. 
' Isaiah, viii. 18. 

* St. Matthew, xxi. 9. * Revelation, xiv. 4. 

156 



LETTER XXII 

choir : ' Let us sing unto the Lord, for he hath 
triumphed gloriously ; the horse and his rider he 
hath thrown into the sea.' ^ Then shall Thecla^ 
fly rejoicing to your arms. Then shall your Spouse 
Himself come to meet you and say : ' Rise up, my 
love, my fair one, and come away, for lo, the winter 
is past, the rain is over and gone.'^ Then shall 
the angels gaze in wonder and cry : ' Who is she 
that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, 
clear as the sun ? ' * The daughters shall see you and 
bless you; yea, the queens shall proclaim and the 
concubines shall praise you. 

And then another chaste band will be there to 
greet you. Sarah will come with the wedded; 
Anna,^ the daughter of Phanuel, with the widows. 
In the one company you will see your natural, and 
in the other your spiritual mother.® The one will 
rejoice in having borne you, the other will exult in 
having taught you. Then truly vriW the Lord ride 
upon His ass and enter the heavenly Jerusalem. 
Then the little ones — of whom in Isaiah the Saviour 
says : ' Behold I and the children whom the Lord 
hath given me ' ' — shall lift up palms of \ictory and 
with one accord shall sing : ' Hosanna in the highest, 
blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, 
hosanna in the highest.' ^ Then shall the hundred 
and forty and four thousand hold their harps before 
the throne and before the elders and sins the new 
song. And no man shall be able to sing that song 
save the appointed company : ' These are they 
which were not defiled with women — for they are 
virgins ; these are they which follow the Lamb 
wiiithersoever he goeth.' ^ As often as this w^orld's 
vain display delights you ; as often as you see in 

157 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

tiens in mundo aliquid videris gloriosum, ad para- 
disum mente transgredere ; esse incipe, quod futura 
es, et audies ab sponso tuo : ' Pone me sieut signa- 
culum in corde tuo, sicut signaculum in brachio tuo,' 
et opere pariter ac mente munita clamabis : ' Aqua 
multa non poterit extinguere caritatem et flumina 
non cooperient earn.' 



XXXVIII 

AD MARCELLAM 

1. Abraham temptatur in filio et fidelior invenitur ; 
loseph in Aegypto venditur, ut patrem pascat et 
fratres ; Ezechias vicina morte terretur, ut fusus in 
lacrimis quindecim annorum spatio proteletur ad 
vitam ; Petrus apostolus domini passione concutitur , 
ut amare flens audiat : ' Pasce oves meas ' ; Paulus, 
lupus rapax et Beniamin adulescentior, in extasi 
caecatur, ut videat, et repentino tenebrarum horrore 
circumdatus dominum vocat, quern dudum ut homi- 
nem persequebatur. 

2. Ita et nunc, mi Marcella, Blesillam nostram 
vidimus ardore febrium per ti-iginta ferme dies iugiter 

^ Song of Solomon, viii. 6. ^ Song of Solomon, viii. 7. 

3 For Marcella and Blesilla, cf. Introduction, p. viii, and 
Appendix I. 

* Paul belonged to the tribe of Benjamin and Benjamin is 
described as a ravening wolf : cf. Genesis, xlix. 27. Paul, a 
Benjamite, acted like a wolf in persecuting the Church : cf. 
p. 279. 



LETTER XXII AND LETTER XXXVIII 

life some empty glory, transf)ort yourself in thought 
to Paradise and begin to be now what you \N'ill be 
hereafter. Then will you hear your Spouse say: 
' Set me as a seal in thine heart and as a seal 
upon thine arm.' ^ And then, fortified aUke in mind 
and body, you ^\•ill cry : ' Many waters cannot quench 
love, neither can the floods drown it.' ^ 



LETTER XXXVIII 

To \Iarcexjla 3 

A good woman 

Written a.d. 384 

Abraham is tempted in the matter of his son, and 
is found to be of greater faith. Joseph is sold in 
Egypt, and is thereby able to maintain his father 
and brothers. Hezekiah is terrified by the near 
approach of death, but he bursts into tears and his 
life is extended by the space of fifteen years. If the 
faith of the apostle Peter is shaken by Our Lord's 
passion, it is that amid his bitter tears he may hear 
the words: ' Feed my sheep.' Paul, that ravening 
wolf, that little Benjamin,* is bhnded in a trance, 
but as the result he gains clear \ision, and from 
the sudden horror of darkness around him calls upon 
Him as Lord whom in the past he persecuted as 
man. 

So now, my dear Marcella, has it been with our 
beloved Blesilla. For nearly thirty days we have 
seen her tossing continually in a burning fever, that 

159 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

afisiuasge, ut sciret reiciendas delicias corpoi-is, quod 
paulo post vermibus exarandum sit. Venit et ad 
hanc dominus lesus tetigitque manum eius et surgens 
ministrat ei. Redolebat aliquid neglegentiae et 
divitiarunv£a2£iis conligata in saeculi iacebat sepul- 
chro, sed confremuit lesus et conturbatus in spiritu 
clamavit dicens : ' Blesilla, exi foras.' Quae vocata 
surrexit et egressa cum domino vescitur. ludaei 
minentur et tumeant, quaerant occidere suscitatam, 
soli apostoli gikkrieittur ; scit se vitam suam ei debere, 
cui credidit ; scit se eius amplexare pedes, cuius 
paulo ante iudicium pertimescebat. Corpus paene 
iacebat exanime et anhelos artus mors vicina qua- 
tiebat. Ubi tunc erant auxilia p ropinqu orum, ubi 
verba omni inaniora fumo ? Nihil tibi debet, o in- 
grata cognatio, quae mundo periit et Christo revixit. 
Qui Christianus est, gaudeat ; qui irascitur, non esse 
se indicat Christianum. 

3. Vidua, quae soluta est vinculo maritali, nihil 
necesse habet nisi perseverare. At ^andaliaat 
quempiam vestis fuscior : scandalizet lohannes, quo 
inter natos mulierum maior nuUus fuit, qui angelus 
dictus ipsum quoque dominum baptizavit, qui came- 
lorum vestitus t egum ine zona pellicia cingebatur. 

1 60 



LETTER XXXVIII 

thereby she might learn to cast away all those 
pamperings of that body into which worms will soon 
burrow their way. To her also the Lord Jesus came, 
and He touched her hand, and behold she rises and 
ministers unto Him. Once there was some suspicion 
of indifference in her conduct : she was bound fast 
in the close wrappings of riches, and lay inactive 
in this world tomb. But Jesus was troubled in spirit, 
and raised His voice and cried aloud, saying : 
' Blesilla, come forth.' At His bidding she arose 
and came out, and now she feasts with the Lord. 
The Jews may swell with threats, and seek to slay 
her who has been roused to life, while the apostles 
alone give glory : Blesilla knows that she owes 
her life to Him to whom she entrusted it : she knows 
that she now embraces the feet of Him before whose 
judgment just lately she trembled. Life had almost 
forsaken her prostrate body, and the near approach 
of death shook her panting frame. Of what avail 
at that hour was the help that relatives could give, 
or their words of comfort, emptier than smoke ? 
She owes nothing to you, thankless kinsmen : she 
is dead to the world and lives again to Christ. Let 
those who are Christians rejoice : those who feel 
resentment show thereby that they are not Christians. 
A widow who is freed from the marital bond has 
but one duty laid upon her, and that is to continue 
as a widow. It may be that some people are offended 
by her sombre garb : they would be offended also 
by John the Baptist, and yet among those born of 
women there has not been a greater than he. He 
was called God's messenger and baptized the Lord 
Himself, but he was clothed in camel's-hair raiment 
and girded with a girdle of skins. It may be that 

i6i 

M 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

Cibi displicent viliores ; nihil vilius est locustis. 
Illae Christianos oculos potius scandalizent, quae 
purpurisso et quibusdam fucis ora oculosque depin- 
gunt, quarum facies gypg^af et nimio candore de- 
formes idola mentiuntur, quibus si forte inprovidens 
lacrimarum stilla eruperit, sulco defluit, quas nee 
numerus annorum potest docere, quod vetulae sunt, 
quae capillis alienis vertieem i nstruu nt et praeteritam 
iuventutem in rugis anilibus poliunt, quae denique 
ante nepotum gregem trementes virgunculae con- 
ponun_tur. Erubescat mulier Christiana, si naturae 
cogit decorem, si cai'nis curam facit ad concupis- 
centiam, in qua qui sunt, secundum apostolum 
Christo placere non possunt. 

4. Vidua nostra ante monilibus ornabatur et die 
tota, quid sibi deesset, quaerebat ad speculum ; nunc 
loquitur confidenter: ' Nos autem omnes revelata 
facie gloriam domini speculantes in eandem imagi- 
nem transformamur a gloria in gloriam, quasi a 
domini spiritu.' Tunc crines f^icillulae disponebant 
et mitellis crispantibus vertex artabatur innoxius ; 
nunc neglectum caput scit sibi tantum sufficere, 
quod velatur. Illo tempore plumarum quoque dura 
mollities videbatur et in extructis tori s iacere vix 
poterat ; nunc ad orandum festina consurgit et modu- 
lata voce ceteris ' alleluia ' praecipiens prior incipit 

^ Romans, viii. 8. * 2 Corinthians, ill. 18. 

162 



LETTER XXXVIII 

some are displeased by a widow's simple food : 
nothing can be more simple than locusts. Those 
women rather should offend a Christian's eyes, who 
paint their cheeks with rouge and their eyes with 
belladonna ; whose faces are covered with powder 
and so disfigured by excessive whiteness that they 
look hke idols ; w ho find a wet furrow on their skin 
if perchance a careless tear escape them ; whom no 
amount of years can con\ince that they are old ; wlio 
heap their heads with borrowed tresses ; who polish 
up past youthfulness in spite of the wrinkles of age ; 
who, in fine, behave like trembling schoolgirls before 
a company of their own grandsons. A Christian 
woman should blush to win by force what should 
be natural beauty, or to rouse men's desires by 
bestowing care upon the flesh. As the apostle says : 
* Those that are in the flesh cannot be pleasing to 
Christ.' 1 

In the past our dear widow used to deck herself 
with necklaces, and spent whole days before her 
glass looking for anything WTong in her appearance. 
Now she boldly says : ' We all with unveiled face, 
beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are 
changed into the same image, from glory to glory, 
even as by the spirit of the Lord.' ^ In those days 
lady's maids used to arrange her hair, and her poor 
head, which had done no harm, was imprisoned in a 
head-dress crammed with curls. Now it is left alone, 
and knows that it is sufficiently cared for when it is 
covered by a veil. At that time the softest down 
seemed hard to her limbs, and she could scarcely rest 
upon a pile of cushions. Now she rises in haste from 
her bed to pray, and with tuneful voice forestalls her 
comrades' ' Alleluia,' herself ever the first to praise her 

163 
m2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

laudare dominum suum. Flectuntur genua super 
nudam humum et crebris laerimis facies psimithio 
ante sordidata purgatur. Post orationem psalmi 
concrepant et lassa cervix, j)oplites vacillantes in 
somnumque vergentes oculi nimio mentis ardore vix 
impetrant, ut quiescant. Pulla est tunica : minus, 
cum humi iacuerit, sordidatur. Soccus vilior : aura- 
torum pretium calceorum egentibus largietur. Cin- 
gulum non auro gemmisque distinctum est, sed 
laneum et tota simplicitate purissimum et quorf 
possit adstringere magis vestimenta quam scindere. 
Si huic proposito invidet scorpius et sermone blando 
de indebita rursum arbore comedere persuadet, 
inlidatur ei pro-solea anathema et in suo morienti 
pulvere dicatur : ' Vade retro, Satanas,' quod inter- 
pretatur ' adverse ' ; adversarius quippe Christi est 
antichristus, cui praecepta displicent Christi. 

5. Oro te, quid tale umquam, quale apostoli, 
fecimus, ut merito scandalizentur ; patrem senem 
cum navicula et rete dimittunt ; publicanus a t eloneo 
surgit et sequitur salvatorem ; volens discipulus 
reverti domum et suis ante renuntiare magistri voce 
prohibetur; sepultura non datur patri et pietatis 
genus est inpium esse pro domino. Nos, quia serica 
veste non utimur, monachi iudicamur, quia ebrii 
non sumus nee cachinno ora dissolvimus, coiitinentes 
vocamur et tristes. Si tunica non canduerit, statim 
illud e trivio : ' Inpostor et Graecus est.' Cavi- 
164 



LETTER XXXVIII 

Lord. She kneels up)on the ground, and with frequent 
tears cleanses the face that was once defiled with white 
lead. After prayer comes the singing of psalms; 
her neck grows weary, her knees totter, her eyes 
drop off to sleep ; but her ardent spirit a«11 hardly 
give them leave to rest. Her dress is of dark stuff; 
therefore it is scarcely soiled by lying on the ground. 
Her slippers are of a cheap sort ; the price of gilded 
boots will be given as alms to the needy. Her 
girdle is not adorned with jewels or gold ; it is made 
of wool, perfectly simple and clean, and it is intended 
to keep her dress close rather than to cut her figure 
into two halves. If the scorpion, jealous of her 
resolute purpose, 'v^ith soft words persuades her to 
eat again of the forbidden tree, let a curse crush 
him instead of a boot, and let her say, as he hes 
dying in the dust that is his due : ' Get thee behind 
me, Satan.' The word Satan means ' adversary,' 
since Christ's adversary is the Antichrist, who finds 
Christ's precepts displeasing. 

Pray, have we ever done anything such as the 
apostles did that men should have reason to be offended 
^^ith us ? The apostles left their boat and their net 
and their aged father. The publican got up from the 
receipt of custom and followed the Sa\'iour. When a 
disciple wished to go back home and give a message 
first to his people, the Master's voice forbade him, 
A father even was refused burial ; for it is a form of 
duty to be undutiful for the Lord's sake. We on 
the other hand are called monks merely because we 
do not dress in silk. We are dubbed ' sour puritans,' 
because we do not get drunk or burst into loud 
guffaws. If our tunic is not spotlessly white, the 
cry goes up from the street: 'Greek charlatan.' 

^ 165 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

lentur vafriora licet et pingui aqualiculo-farsos cir- 
cumferant homines : Blesilla nostra ridebit nee 
dignabitur loquacium ranarum audire convicia, cum 
dominus eius dictus sit Beelzebub. 



XL 

Ad Marcellam de Onaso 

1. Medici, quos vocant chirurgicos, crudeles pu- 
tantur et miseri sunt. An non est miseria alienis 
dolere vulneribus et mortuas carnes c^pienti secare 
ferro ? Non horrere curantem, quod horret ipse, qui 
patitur, et inimicum putari ? Ita se natura habet, 
ut amara sit Veritas, blanda vitia aestimentur. 
Esaias in fixemplum captivitatis futurae nudus non 
erubescit incedere ; Heremias de media Hierusalem 
ad Eufraten, fluvium Mesopotamiae, mittitur, ut 
inter inimicas gentes, ubi est Assyrius et castra sunt 
Chaldaeorum, ponat Trepi^w/xa corrumpendum : Hie- 
zechiel stercore primum humano, dein biihiilo panem 
de omni semente conspersum edere iubetur et uxoris 
interitum siccis oculis videt ; Amos de Samaria 
pellitur : cur quaeso ? Nempe ideo, quia chirurgici 
spiritales secantes vitia peccatorum ad paenitentiam 

1 Matthew, x. 25. 

* This letter is superscribed ' To Marcella concerning 
Onasus,' but most of the fierce invective is addressed personally 
to Onasus himself, of whom nothing else is known. 

3 Isaiah, xx. 2. * Jeremiah, xiii. 7. 

* Ezekiel, iv. Off. and xxiv. 15 fl. • Amos, vii. 12. 

1 66 



LETTER XXXVIII AND LETTER XL 

Let men indulge in even sharper witticisms, if they 
please, and parade before us their fat-paunched 
friends. Our dear Blesilla will laugh at them, and 
will not deign to listen to the abuse of noisy frogs. 
She knows that her Lord was called by men 
Beelzebub.i 



LETTER XL 

To Marcella 

Onasus the tcindbag ^ 

Written a.d. 385 

Those medical men whom folk call surgeons are 
thought to be cruel and really are pitiful. Is it not 
a pitiful business to feel the pain of another's wounds, 
and to cut dead flesh with the merciful knife ? Is it 
not pitiful to show no horror at treating a malady 
which seems horrible even to the patient, and to be 
considered the sufferer's enemy ? Man's nature is 
such that truth tastes bitter and pleasant \ices are 
esteemed. Isaiah in token of the coming captivity 
does not blush to go abroad naked. ^ Jeremiah is 
sent from mid-Jerusalem to Euphrates, the river of 
Mesopotamia, among hostile nations, the Assyrians 
and the camp of the Chaldaeans, and bidden there 
to hide his girdle and let it be marred.* Ezekiel is 
ordered to eat bread made of every kind of grain 
and mingled first with man's and then -v^ith cow's 
dung, and he looks on at his wife's death with dry 
eyes.^ Amos is driven forth from Samaria.^ WTiy 
was all this, pray? It was because our spiritual 
surgeons by cutting into the faults of sinners exhorted 

167 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

cobortabantur. Paulus apostolus : * Inimicus,' in- 
quit, ' vobis factus sum vera dicens.' Et quia salva- 
toris dura videbantur eloquia, plurimi discipulorum 
retrorsum abierunt. 

2. Unde non mirum est, si et nos vitiis detrahentes 
ofFendimus plurimos. Disposui nasum secare fete^n- 
tem : timeat, qui strumosus est. Volo corniculae 
detrahere garrienti : r,fiiicidulani se intellegat cornix. 
Numquid unus in orbe Romano est, qui habeat 
' truncas Inhonesto vulnere nares ' ? Numquid solus 
Onasus Segestanus cava verba et in vesicarum raodum 
tumentia buccis tr utinatu r inflatis ? Dico quosdam 
scelere, periurio, falsitate ad dignitatem nescio quam 
pervenisse : quid ad te, qui te intellegis innocen- 
tem ? Rideo advocatum, qui patrono egeat : quad- 
rante dignam eloquentiam nare subsanno : quid ad 
te, qui disertus es ? Volo in nummarios invehi 
sacerdotes : tu, qui dives es, quid irasceris ? Qaudum 
cupio suis ignibus ardere Vulcanum : numquid 
hospes eius es aut vicinus, quod a delubris idoli 
niteris incendium submovere ? Placet mihi de l arvi s, 
de noctua, de bubone, de Niliacis ridere portentis : 
quicquid dictum fuerit, in te dictum putas. In 
quodcumque vitium stili mei mucro contorquetur, 
te clamitas designari, conserta manu in ius vocas et 
satiricum scriptorem in prosa stulte arguis. An ideo 
bellus videris, quia fausto vocaris nomine ? Quasi 

^ Galatians, iv. 16. 

^ Virgil, Aeneid, VI. 497, of Deiphobus. Nasua = nose. 
Onasus = Onesimus = ' the helpful.' 

l68 



LETTER XL 

men to repentance. The apostle Paul says : ' I have 
become your enemy because I tell you the truth.' ^ 
And because the Saviour's words seemed hard, very 
many of His disciples went away. 

So it is not surprising if we too offend very many 
when we try to strip away their vices. I am prepared 
to cut a foul-smelUng nose : those who suffer from a 
wen may well shake in their shoes. I intend to 
rebuke a chattering crow : the fellow-bird may well 
see that he too is offensive. But is there only one 
man in the whole Roman world who has •' a nose 
lopped short with shameful wound ' ? ^ Is Onasus 
of Segesta the only person who puffs his cheeks and 
weighs out words ^\ith nothing in them like a bladder 
full of wind ? I say that certain people have reached 
a certain position by crime, perjury, and false pre- 
tences. What is that to you, who know yourself to 
be innocent? I laugh at the advocate who himself 
needs a defender ; I sneer scornfully at his eloquence 
which would be dear at a farthing. What is that to 
you, who are a good speaker ? It is my pleasure to 
attack those priests who think only of money. VMiy 
do you, who are a rich man, become angry ? I 
would fain burn limping Vulcan in his own furnace. 
Are you a friend or a neighbour of his, that you 
strive to save the idol's shrine from the flames? I 
like to laugh at ghosts, night-birds, hooting owls, 
and all the portents of Egv-pt : anything I say you 
think is aimed at yourself. Against whatever vice 
my pen's sword-point turns, you cry out loudly that 
you are its mark, you join issue and call me into 
court, and foolishly try to prove that I am a writer 
of satire in prose. Do you seem to yourself a fine 
fellow, because you bear the lucky name of Onasus, 

169 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

non et lucus ideo dicatur, quod minime luceat, et 
Parcae ab eo, quod nequaquam parcant, et Eume- 
nides Furiae, et vulgo Aethiopes vocentur argentei. 
Quodsi in descriptione fo edoru m semper irasceris, 
iam te cum Persio cantabo formosum : 

' Te optent generum rex et regina, puellae 
Te rapiant : quicquid calcaveris tu, rosa fiat. ' 

3. Dabo tamen consilium, quibus absconditis possis 
pulchrior apparere : nasus non videatur in facie, 
sermo non sonet ad loquendum, atque ita et formosus 
videri potes et disertus. 



XLIII 

Ad Marcellam 

1. Ambrosius, quo chartas, sumptus, notarios minis- 
trante tam innumerabiles libros vere Adamantius 
et noster XaAKcVrepo? explicavit, in quadam epistula, 



^ Persius, Satires, II. 37, altered. 

2 Not the great Bishop of Milan who lived a century after 
Origen, but a friend of Origen. 

' ' Chalkenteros,' ' the man with entrails of brass,' an 
epithet usually applied to the Alexandrian scholar Didymus, 
because of his unwearied industry, is here transferred to 

170 



LETTER XL AND LETTER XLIII 

' the Helpful ' ? Have you never heard the saying : 
Lucus a non lucendo ? Are not the Fates called the 
Sparers, because they spare no man ? Are not the 
Furies called Angels of Mercy ? Do not common 
people often use the name ' silver boys ' for negroes ? 
Still, if my pictures of ugliness make you angry, 
to-day I will call you beautiful and sing ^^^th 
Persius : ^ 

' May kings and queens their daughters to you lead 
And for your favours as a bridegroom plead. 
May girls their eager hands upon you lay 
And where you walk red roses deck the way.* 

I will give you, however, one piece of advice. 
There are some things you must hide, if you are to 
appear handsome. Let your nose not be seen upon 
your face and let your tongue never be heard in 
conversation. Then you may possibly be thought 
both good-looking and eloquent. 



LETTER XLHI 

To Marcella 

The country life 

Written a.d. 385 

Ambrose,^ who supplied Origen ^^ith parchment, 
money, and copyists, and thus enabled our man of 
brass ' and adamant to bring out his innimierable 

Origen, who was sometimes called ' Adamantius,' probably 
for the same reason. 

171 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

quam ad eundem de Athenis scripserat, refert 
numquam se cibos Origene praesente sine lectione 
sumpsisse, nunquam venisse somnium, nisi e fratri- 
bus aliquis sacris litteris personaret, hoc diebus egisse 
vel noctibus, ut et lectio orationem susciperet et 
oratio lectionem. *"" 

2. Quid nos. ventris animalia, tale umquam feci- 
mus? Quos si secunda hora legentes invenerit, 
oscitamus, manu faciem defricantes continemus 
stomachum et quasi post multum laborem mundiali- 
bus rursum negotiis occupamur. Praetermitto 
prandia, quibus onerata mens premitur. Pudet 
dicere de frequentia salutandi, qua aut ipsi cotidie 
ad alios pergimus aut ad nos venientes ceteros 
expectamus. Deinceps itur in verba, sermo l^eiritur, 
lacerantur absentes, vita aliena describitur et mor- 
dentes invicem consumimur ab invicem. Talis nos 
cibus et occupat et dimittit. Cum vero amici 
recesserint, ratiocinia subputamus. Nunc ira per- 
sonam nobis leonis inponit, nunc cura superflua in 
annos multos duratura praecogitat, nee recordamur 
evangelii dicens : ' Stulte, hac nocte repetunt animum 
tuam a te ; quae autem praeparasti, cuius erunt? ' 
Vestes non ad usum tantum, sed ad delicias conqui- 
runtur. Ubicumque conpendium est, velocior pes, 
citus sermo, auris adtentior; si damnum, et saepe 
in re familiari accidere solet, fuerit nuntiatum, vultus 
maerore deprimitur. Laetamur ad nummum, obolo 

1 St. Luke, xii. 20. 
172 



LETTER XLIII 

books, in a letter written to his friend from Athens, 
declares that he never took a meal in Origen's com- 
pany without something being read, and that he 
never fell asleep save to the sound of some brother's 
voice reciting the Scriptures aloud. Day and night 
it was their habit to make reading follow upon 
prayer, and prayer upon reading, without a break. 

Do we, poor creatures of the belly, ever behave 
like this ? If we spend more than an hour in reading, 
you will find us yawning and trying to restrain our 
boredom by rubbing our eyes ; then, as though we 
had been hard at work, we plunge once more into 
worldly affairs. I say nothing of the heavy meals 
which crush such mental faculties as we possess. I 
am ashamed to speak of our numerous calls, going 
ourselves every day to other people's houses, or 
waiting for others to come to us. The guests arrive 
and talk begins : a brisk conversation is engaged : 
we tear to pieces those who are not there : other 
people's Uves are described in detail : we bite and 
are ourselves bitten in turn. With this fare the 
company is kept busy, and so at last it disperses. 
When our friends have left us, we reckon up our 
accounts, now frowning over them like angry Uons, 
now with useless care planning schemes for the 
distant future. We remember not the words of the 
Gospel : ' Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be 
required of thee : then whose shall those things be 
which thou hast provided ? ' ^ We buy clothes, not 
solely for use, but for display. When we see a 
chance of making money, we quicken our steps, we 
talk fast, we strain our ears. If we are told that 
we have lost, as often must happen in business, our 
face is clouded with sorrow, A penny makes us 

173 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

contristamur. Unde, cum in uno homine animorum 
tarn diversa sit facies, propheta dominum deprecatur 
dicens : ' Domine, in civitate tua imaginem eorum 
4issipa.' Cum enini ad imaginem et similitudinem 
Dei conditi sumus, ex vitio nostro et personas nobis 
plurimas superinducimus, et quomodo in theatralibus 
scaenis unus atque idem histrio nunc Herculem 
robustus ostentat, nunc mollis in Venerem frangitur, 
nunc tremulus in Cybelen, ita et nos, qui, si mundi 
non essemus, odiremur a mundo, tot habemus 
personarum similitudines, quot peccata. 

3. Quapropter, quia vitae multum iam spatium 
transivimus fluctuando et navis nostra nunc pro- 
cellarum concussa turbine, nunc scopulorum inli- 
sionibus perforata est, quam primum licet, quasi 
quemdam portum secreta ruris intremus. Ibi oiba- 
fius panis et holus nostris manibus inrigatum, lac, 
delTciae rusticanae, viles quidem, sed innocentes 
cibos praebeant. Ita viventes non ab oratione 
somnus, non saturitas a lectione revocabit. Si aestas 
est, secretum arboris umbra praebebit ; si autumnus, 
ipsa aeris teinperies et strata subter folia locum 
quietis ostendit. Vere ager floribus depingitur et 
inter querulas aves psalmi dulcius decantabuntur. 
Si frigus fuerit et brumales nives, ligna non coemam : 
calidius vigilabo vel dormiam, certe, quod sciam, 
vilius non algebo. Habeat sibi Roma suos tumultos, 
harena saeviat, circus insaniat, theatra luxurient, et 

1 Psalm Ixxiii. 20. A.V. has 'when thou awakest,' but 
R.V. gives 'in the city' in margin = w civitate tua of 
Vulgate. (Psalm Ixxii. 20.) 

174 



LETTER XLIII 

merry : a halfpenny makes ns sad. Therefore, as 
the phases of one man's mind are so conflicting, the 
prophet prays to the Lord, saying : * O Lord, in thy 
city scatter their image.' ^ For while we were created 
in God's image and likeness, by reason of our o\vn 
perversity we hide ourselves behind changing masks, 
and as on the stage one and the same actor now 
figures as a brawTiy Hercules, and now relaxes into the 
softness of a Venus or the quivering tone of a Cybele, 
so we who, if we were not of the world, would be 
hated by the world, have a counterfeit mask for 
every sin to which we are inclined. 

Therefore, as to-day we have traversed a great 
part of Ufe's journey through rough seas, and as our 
barque has been now shaken by tempestuous ^Ainds, 
now holed upon rugged rocks, let us take this first 
chance and make for the haven of a rural retreat. 
Let us hve there on milk, on the bread we bake for 
ourselves, and on the greenstuff that we water with 
our own hands, country deUcacies, cheap and harm- 
less. If thus we spend our days, sleep will not call 
us away from prayer, nor overfeeding from study. 
In summer the shade of a tree \n\\ give us privacy. 
In autumn the mild air and the leaves beneath our 
feet point out a place for rest. In spring the fields 
are gay \vith flowers, and the birds' plaintive notes 
will make our psalms sound all the sweeter. WTien 
the cold weather comes with winter's snows, I shall 
not need to buy wood : whether I keep \igil or lie 
asleep, I shall be warmer there, and certainly as far 
as I know, I shall escape the cold at a cheaper rate. 
Let Rome keep her bustle for herself, the fury of the 
arena, the madness of the circus, the profligacy of 
the theatre, and — for I must not forget our Christian 

175 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

quia de nostris dicendum est, matronarum cotidie 
visitetur senatus: nobis adhaerere Deo bonum est, 
ponere in domino spem nostram, ut, cum pauperta- 
tem istam caelorum regna mutaverint, erumpamus 
in vocem : ' Quid enim mihi restat in caelo et a te 
quid volui super terram ? ' Quo scilicet, cum tanta 
reppererimus in caelo, parva et caduca quaesisse nos 
doleamus in terra. 



XLIV 

Ad Marcellam 

Ut absentiam corporum spiritus confabulatione 
sglemur, faciat unusquisque, quod praevalet. Vos 
dona transmittitis, nos epistulas remittimus grati- 
arum, ita tamen, ut, quia velatarum virginum munus 
est, aliqua in ipsis munusculis esse mysteria demon- 
stremus. Saccus orationis signum atque ieiunii est ; 
sellae, ut foras pedes virgo non moveat; cerei, ut 
accenso lumine sponsi expectetur adventus ; calices 
mortificationem carnis ostendunt et semper animum 
ad martyrium praeparatum — ' Calix ' quippe ' do- 
mini inebrians perquam optimus ' — quod autem et 
matronis ofFertis mujcaria parvis animalibus venti- 
landa, procul ab illis abesse debere luxurias, quae 
cito cum isto interiturae mundo oleum vitae suavioris 



^ Psalm Ixxiii. 25. 

* Psalm xxiii. 5. Gallican psalter. 



176 



LETTER XLIII AND LETTER XLIV 

friends — the daily meetings of the matrons' senate. 
For us it is good to cleave to God, and to put our 
hopes in the Lord, so that, when we have exchanged 
this poor Ufe for the kingdom of heaven, we may 
cry aloud : ' Whom have I in heaven but thee ? 
There is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.' ^ 
Assuredly, when we have found such wealth in 
heaven, we may well grieve to have sought after poor 
passing pleasures here on earth. 



LETTER XLIV 

To Marcella 

A letter of thanks 

Written A.D. 385 

Let us comfort ourselves for bodily absence by 
spiritual conversation, each and every one of us doing 
what we can do best. You send us gifts, we send you 
back letters of thanks ; with this addition, as it is an 
offering to \irgins who have taken the veil, that we 
point out to you that there are certain mysteries 
hidden in those dear presents of yours. Sackcloth 
is a sign of prayer and fasting ; chairs warn us that 
a virgin does not go abroad ; tapers are a reminder 
to have our lights burning as we await the Bride- 
groom's coming ; cups signify mortification of the flesh 
and readiness for martyrdom — ' How excellent is 
the Lord's cup that maketh drunk those who partake 
thereof!"^ Furthermore, when you offer matrons 
fans to keep off flies, you show them that they must 
drive away all those wanton pleasures, which with 
this world so quickly perish and corrupt the oil of our 

177 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

exterminaii.t. Hie typus virginum, haec figura sit 
matronarum. Nobis autem, iii jgerversjum licet, 
munera vestra conveniunt : sedere aptum est otiosis, 
in sacco iacere paenitentibus, calices habere potanti- 
bus, licet et propter nocturnos metus et animo 
semper malo conscientiae formidante cereos quoque 
accendisse sit gratum. 



XLV 

Ad Asellam 

1. Si tibi putem a me gratias referri posse, non 
sapiam. Potens est Deus super personam meam 
sanctae animae tuae restituere, quod meretur. Ego 
enim indignus nee aestimare umquam potui nee 
optare, ut mihi tantum in Christo largireris adfectum. 
Et licet me sceleratum quidam putent et omnibus 
flagitiis obrutum et pro peccatis meis etiam haec 
parva sint, tamen tu bene facis, quod ex tua mente 
etiam malos bonos putas. Periculosum quippe est 
de servo alterius iudicare, et non facilis venia prava 
dixisse de rectis. Veniet, veniet ilia dies, et mecum 
dolebis ardere non paucos. 

2. Ego prolJosus, ego Yejcsipellis et lubricus, ego 



^ This letter was WTitten at Ostia in August a.d. 385, just 
before Jerome in company with his brother Paulinian and 
the priest Vincentius left Rome for the East. Paula and 
Eustochium followed him soon afterwards, and they all three 
settled at Bethlehem for the rest of their lives. For Asella, 
of. Appendix, p. 485. 

178 



LETTER XLIV AND LETTER XLV 

sweeter life. These are the types and figures that 
virgins and matrons may find in your gifts. To my- 
self also they have an application ; although in my 
ease they go by the rule of contrary. Sitting on 
chairs is suitable for those who have no work to do, 
lying on sackcloth for those who repent of the past, 
holding cups for those who drink deep. It may be, 
however, that I shall be glad to light your tapers, both 
to banish the terrors of the night and also to appease 
the fears of a guilty conscience. 



LETTER XLV 

To ASELLA^ 

Innocent friendships 

Were I to think that I could ever repay you for 
your kindness, I should indeed be lacking in wisdom. 
God alone is able to give the reward due to your pure 
spirit. For I am so unworthy of your great love that 
I have never been able to estimate its extent, or even 
to hope that you would bestow it upon me in Christ's 
name. And even though some people regard me 
as a villain loaded with iniquity, and even though 
such words are inadequate to my sins, yet you do 
well who in your oa\ti mind think that there is good- 
ness even in bad men. Indeed it is dangerous to pass 
sentence on another's servant, and to speak e\il of 
the upright is a thing not Ughtly to be excused. 
Soon, soon the day of judgment ^\^ll be coming ; and 
you and I then will see with grief that many are 
burning in the fire. 

I a scandal, I a slippery turncoat, I a liar using 

179 
n2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

niendax et Satanae arte decipiens ! Quid est astu- 
tius, haec vel credidisse vel finxisse de insontibus, 
an etiam de noxiis credere noluisse ? Osculabantur 
mihi quidam manus et ore vipereo detrahebant ; dole- 
bant labiis, corde gaudebant : videbat dominus et 
subsannabat eos, et miserum servum suum futuro 
cum eis iudicio reservabat. Alius incessum meum 
calumniabatur et risum, ille vultul detrahebat, haec 
in simplicitate aliud sujpicetur. Paene certe trienno 
cum eis vixi ; multa me virginum crebro turba cir- 
cumdedit; divinos libros, ut potui, nonnullis saepe 
disserui ; lectio adsiduitatem, adsiduitas familiari- 
tatem, familiaritas fiduciam fecerat. Dicant, quid 
umquam in me aliter senserint, quam Christianum 
decebat ? Pecuniam cuius accepi ? Munera vel 
parva vel magna non sprevi ? In manu mea aes 
alicuius insonuit? Qbliquus sermo, oculus petulans 
fuit? Nihil mihi aliud obicitur nisi sexus meus, et 
hoc numquam obicitur, nisi cum Hierosolyma Paula 
proficiscitur. Esto : crediderunt mentienti ; cur non 
credunt neganti ? Idem est homo ipse, qui fuerat : 
fatetur insontem, qui dudum noxium loquebatur; 
et certe veritatem magis exprimunt tormenta quam 
risus, nisi quod facilius creditur, quod aut fictum 
libenter auditur aut non fictum, oi t fingatur. inpeUitur . 

1 Cf. Appendix, p. 492. 
1 80 



LETTER XLV 

Satan's art to deceive ! \\Tiich shows the greater 
subtlety, I wonder, to believe these charges (perhaps 
even to invent them about an innocent man), or to 
say : ' I do not wish to believe them even though he is 
guilty ' ? There were some who kissed my hands 
and maligned me with snakish tongue : their lips 
lamented, their hearts rejoiced. The Lord saw 
them and held them in derision, reserving them and 
His poor servant for common judgment in the future. 
One man ca\'illed at my manner of walking and 
laughing ; another found in my expression something 
to dislike ; a third lady would suspect something else 
in my simplicity. With such people I have been 
hving for almost three years : frequently I was 
surrounded by a throng of virgins : to some of them 
I often discoursed on the Scriptures to the best of my 
ability : study brought about familiarity, familiarity 
friendship, friendship confidence. Let them say if 
they have ever noticed in my conduct anything unbe- 
fitting a Christian. Have I taken anyone's money ? 
Have I not disdained all gifts great or small .^ Has 
the chink of anyone's coin ever been heard in my 
hand? Has my conversation ever been ambiguous, 
or my eye wanton ? Nothing is laid to my charge 
except my sex, and that only when Paula is likely to 
set out for Jerusalem. Well, then ; they believed him 
when he lied ; why do they not believe him when he 
retracts ? He is the very same man as before : he 
confesses I am innocent, though in the past he said I 
was guilty ; and surely torture is more effective 
than laughter in forcing out the truth, except indeed 
that people are more ready to believe a tale which, 
though false, they hear with pleasure, and urge others 
to invent it if they have not done so already.^ 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

3. Antequam domum sanctae Paulae nossem, 
totius in me urbis studia consonabant. Omnium 
paene iudicio dignus summo sacerdotio decernebar ; 
beatae memoriae Damasi os meus sermo erat ; 
dicebar sanctus, dicebar humilis et disertus. Num- 
quid domum alicuius lascivioris ingressus sum ? 
Numquid me vestes sericae, nitentes gemmae, picta 
facies, auri rapuit ambitio ? Nulla fuit Romae alia 
matronarum, quae meam posset domare mentem, 
nisi lugens atque ieiunans, squalens sordibus, fletibus 
paene caecata, quam continuis noctibus domini 
misericordiam depreeantem sol saepe deprehendit, 
cuius c anticu m psalmi sunt, sermo evangelium, 
deliciae continentia, vita ieiunium. Nulla me alia 
potuit delectare, nisi ilia, quam manducantem num- 
quam vidi ; postquam eam pro suae merito sancti- 
tatis venerari, colere, suspicere coepi, omnes me ilico 
deseruere virtutes. 

4. O invidia primum mordax tui ! O Satanae 
callidita s semper sancta persequens. Nullae aliae 
Romanae urbi fabulam praebuerunt, nisi Paula et 
Melanium, quae contemptis facultatibus pignori- 
busque desertis crucem domini quasi quoddam pieta- 
tis levavere vexillum. Baias peterent, unguenta 
eligerent, divitias et viduitatem haberent, materias 
luxuriae et libertatis, domnae vocarentur et sanctae : 
nunc in sacco et cinere formo«sae volunt videri et in 
gehennae ignis cum ieiuniis et pedore descendere. 



1 Cf. Appendix, pp. 493, 494. 
182 



LETTER XLV 

Before I became acquainted with the households 
of the saintly Paula, all Rome was enthusiastic about 
me. Almost everyone concurred in judging me 
worthy of the highest office in the Church. My 
words were always on the lips of Damasus of blessed 
memory. Men called me saintly ; men called me 
humble and eloquent. Did I ever enter the house of 
any woman who was inclined to wantonness ? Was 
I ever attracted by silk dresses, flashing jewels, 
painted faces, display of gold? No other matron in 
Rome could dominate my mind but one who mourned 
and fasted, who was squalid ^vith dirt, almost blinded 
by weeping. All night long she would beg the Lord 
for mercy, and often the sun found her still praying. 
The psalms were her music, the Gospels her con- 
versation ; continence was her luxury, her life a fast. 
Xo other could give me pleasure but one whom I 
never saw munching food. But when, recognizing 
the hohness of her life, I began to revere, respect, 
and venerate her, all my good qualities at once 
forsook me. 

O tooth of env}-, that dost ever first attack thyself I 
O cunning of Satan, that dost always persecute holy 
things ! The only women to give Rome an oppor- 
tunity for scandal were Paula and Melanium,^ who, 
scorning their wealth and deserting their children, 
lifted up the Lord's ci'oss and took it as the standard 
of their faith. Had they frequented fashionable 
watering-places and used their own particular scent, 
had they employed their wealth and widow's freedom 
as opportunities for extravagance and self-indulgence, 
they would have been called ' Madam,' and ' saint.' 
As it is they wish to appear beautiful in sackcloth and 
ashes, and to go dowTi to the fires of hell with fastings 

183 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

Videlicet non licet eis adplaudente populo perire 
cum turbis. Si gentiles banc vitam carperent, si 
ludaei, haberem solacium non placendi eis, quibus 
displicet Christus ; nunc vero — pro nefas ! — nomine 
Christianae praetermissa domum suarum cura et 
proprii oculi trabe neglecta in alieno festucam quae- 
runt. Lacerant sanctum propositum et remedium 
poenae suae arbitrantur, si nemo sit sanctus, si 
omnibus detrahatur, si turba sit pereuntium, multi- 
tude peccantium, 

5. Tibi placet lavare cotidie, alius has munditias 
sordes putat; tu attagenam ructuas et de comeso 
acipensere gloriaris, ego faba ventrem inpleo ; te 
delectant cachinnantium greges, Paulam Melani- 
umque plangentium; tu aliena desideras, illae con- 
temnunt sua ; te delibuta melle vina delectant, illae 
potant aquam frigidam suaviorem ; tu te perdere 
aestimas, quidquid in praesenti non hauseris, come- 
deris, devoraris, et illae futura desiderant et credunt 
vera esse, quae scripta sunt. Esto : inepte et ani- 
liter, quibus resurrectio persuasit corporum ; quid ad 
te ? Nobis e contrario tua vita displicet. Bono tuo 
crassus sis, me macies delectat et pallor; tu tales 
miseros arbitraris, nos te miseriorem putamus : 
invicem nobis videmur insani. 
184 



LETTER XLV 

and filth. Oh, plainly they are not allowed to perish 
amid the mob's applause along with the multitude ! 
If it were Gentiles or Jews who attacked this mode 
of life, I should have the consolation of not pleasing 
those to whom Christ Himself is distasteful. But, as 
it is, shame upon them, women, nominally Christian, 
neglecting their own households and disregarding 
the beam in their own eye look for a mote in their 
neighbour's. They tear religion to shreds, and 
think they have found a palliative for their own fate, 
if they can show that no one is a saint and that 
everyone has weaknesses, that great is the multitude 
of the sinners, and mighty the host of those that 
perish. 

It is your pleasure to take a bath everyday : another 
man thinks such refinement rubbish. You belch after 
a meal of wild duck and boast of the sturgeon you 
devour ; I fill my belly with beans. You take 
delight in troops of jesters; Paula and Melanium 
prefer those who weep. You want other people's 
goods ; they despise their own. You like wine 
flavoured \\-ith honey ; they have a sweeter drink, 
cold water. You consider that you are losing all 
that you have not at once drained dry, gobbled up, 
and devoured ; they beheve that the Scriptures are 
true and fix their desires on what is to come. Well, 
they are foolish old women to be persuaded of the 
resurrection of the body ! But what is that to you ? 
We for our part are not satisfied with your mode of 
life. Fatten yourself to your heart's content : I 
prefer a lean body and a pale face. You think 
people like us miserable : we regard you as more 
miserable still. Our opinion of you is like your 
opinion of us, and each in turn thinks the other insane. 

185 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

6. Haec, mi domina Asella, cum iam navem con- 
scenderem, raptim flens dolensque conscripsi, et 
gratias ago Deo meo, quod dignus sum, quem mundus 
oderit. Ora autem, ut de Babylone Hierosolyma 
regrediar nee mihi dominetur Nabuchodonosor, sed 
lesus, filius losedech ; veniat Hesdras, qui interpre- 
tatur ' adiutor,' et reducat me in patriam meam. 
Stultus ego, qui volebam canticum domini in terra 
aliena et deserto monte Sion Aegypti auxilium flagi- 
tabam. Non recordabar evangelii, quod, qui Hieru- 
salem egreditur, statim incidit in latrones, spoliatur, 
vulncratur, occiditur. Sed licet sacerdos d^cipiat 
atque levites, Samaritanus ille miisericors est, cui 
cum diceretur : ' Samarites es et daemonium habes,' 
daemonem rennuens Samariten non se negavit, 
quia, quem nos ' custodem,' Hebraei ' samariten ' 
vocant. Maleficum me quidam gariiunt : titulum 
fidei , servus agnosco ; magum vocabant et ludaei 
domihum meum, seductor et apostolus dictus est. 
' Temptatio ' me * non adprehendit nisi humana.' 
QuQtam partem angustiarum perpessus sum, qui 
cruci milito ? Infamiam falsi criminis inportarunt, 
sed scio per bonam et malam famam perveniri ad 
regna caelorum. 

7. Saluta Paulam et Eustochium — velit nolit 
mundus, in Christo meae sunt — saluta matrem 
Albinam sororesque Marcellas, Marcellinam quoque 
et sanctam Felicitatem, et die eis : ' " Ante tribunal 



^ Cf. Haggai, i. 1, etc. It means that however ill the Jews 
had treated him, he would prefer the rule of Jenisalem to that 
of Babylon. 

^ Psalm cxxxvii. 4. 

' St. Luke, X. 30 ff. Cf. St. John, viii. 48. 
1 86 



LETTER XLV 

I vrrite this in haste, dear lady Asella, as I go on 
board ship, grie\'ing and in tears ; and I thank my 
God that I am held worthy of the world's hate. 
Pray for me that from Babylon I may return to 
Jerusalem, and that Joshua, son of Josedech, may 
have dominion over me rather than Nebuchadnezzar ,i 
and that Ezra, whose name means ' helper,' may come 
and bring me back to my OAvn country. FooUsh was 
I, who wished to sing the Lord's song in a strange 
land,- and left Mount Sion to seek the help of Egj^pt. 
I forgot the Gospel story ,^ how that he who goes out 
from Jerusalem immediately falls among robbers, is 
stripped, wounded, and left for dead. But though 
priest and Le\ite pay no heed, there is the good 
Samaritan, who, when he was told, ' Thou art a 
Samaritan and hast a de\il,' denied having a devil, 
but did not deny that he was a Samaritan, that name 
in Hebrew being equivalent to our ' guardian.' 
There are some men who style me a sorcerer : I, who 
am but a servant, recognize the word as a title of 
faith. The Jews called my master a magician, and 
the great apostle was spoken of as a deceiver. ' There 
hath no temptation taken me but such as is common 
to man.'* How few troubles have I endured, I who 
am a soldier of the cross ? Men have laid upon me 
the disgrace of a false charge, but I know that the 
road to the kingdom of heaven leads aUke through 
good report and through evil. 

Greet Paula and Eustochium for me — whether the 
world wills it or no, they are mine in Christ — also 
your mother Albina and your sisters the two Mar- 
cellas, together with MarcelUna and the saintly 
FeUcitas. Tell them this : ' " We shall stand together 

* 1 Corinthians, x. 13. 

187 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

Christi stabimus " ; ibi parebit, qua mente quis 

vixerit.' Memento mei, exemplum pudicitiae et 

virginitatis insigne, fluctusque maris tuis precibus 
mitiga. 



LII 

Ad Nepotianum Presbyterum 

1. PETiSjNepotiane carissime,litteris transmarinis et 
crebro petis, ut tibi brevi volumine digerjjn prae- 
cepta Vivendi et, qua ratione is, qui saeculi militia 
derelicta vel monachus coeperit esse vel clericus, 
rectum Christi tramitem teneat, ne ad diversa vi- 
tiorum ditfirticula^rapiatur. Dum essem adulescens, 
immo paene puer, et primos impetus lascivientis 
aetatis heremi duritia refrenarem, scripsi ad avuneu- 
lum tuum, sanctum Heliodorum, exhortatoriam 
epistulam plenam lacrimis querimoniisque et quae 
deserti sodalis monstraret affectum. Sed in illo 
opere pro aetate tunc lusimus et calentibus adhuc 
rhetorum studiis atque doctrinis quaedam scolastico 
flore depinximus. Nunc iam cano capite et.^ronte, ad 
instar boum pendentibus a mento palearibus : 

' Frigidus obsistit circum praecordia sanguis ' ; 

1 Romans, xiv. 10. 

^ This letter, addressed to Nepotian and written in a.d. 394, 
is really a treatise on the duties of the clergy. Nepotian was 
the nephew of Hcliodorus, a life-long friend of Jerome (of. 
Letter XIV), who had become Bishop of Altinum. Both 



LETTER XLV AND LETTER LII 

before Christ's judgment seat ",^ and there the 
thoughts of each man's Ufe shall be revealed.' Re- 
member me, my glorious pattern of chastity and 
virginity, and by your prayers appease the sea waves. 

LETTER LII 2 

To Xepotiax 

A clergyman's duties 

You ask me, my dearest Nepotian, in your letters 
from across the sea, and you ask me often, to set out 
for you in a brief digest some rules of life, showing 
how one who has renounced service in the world's 
army to become a monk or a clergyman may keep to 
the straight path of Christ and not be led astray into 
the haunts of vice. When I was a young man, 
scarcely more than a boy, and was trying to curb the 
first tides of youthful wantonness by the hardships of 
the desert, I wrote a letter of exhortation to your 
reverend uncle Heliodorus, to show him the feeUngs 
of the friend he had deserted by the tears and 
remonstrances with which it was filled. In that 
production I indulged my youthful fancy, and being 
still fired with enthusiasm for the teaehinff of the 
rhetoricians, I decked out some parts of it with the 
flowery language of the schools. To-day, however, 
my hair is grey, my forehead furrowed and dewlaps, 
like those of an ox, hang from my chin. As the poet 
says : 

' The cold blood round my heart now hinders me ' ; ^ 

Nepotian and Heliodoms had been soldiers before joining the 
Church. 

' Virgil, Georgics, II. 484. 

189 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

unde et in alio loco idem poeta canit : 

' Omnia fert aetas, animum quoque ' ; 

et post modicum : 

' Nunc oblita mihi tot carmina, vox quoque Moerim 
lam fugit.' 

2. Quod ne dc gentili tantum litteratura proferre 
videamur, divinorum voluminum sacramenta cog- 
nosce. David annos natus septuaginta, bellicosus 
quondam vir, senectute frigente non poterat cale- 
fieri. Quaeritur itaque puella de universis finibus 
Israhel Abisag Somanitis, quae cum rege dormiret et 
senile corpus calefaceret. Nonne tibi videtur, si 
occidentem sequaris litteram, vel figmentum esse de 
mimo vel Atellanarum ludjcra ? Frigidus senex 
obvolvitur vestimentis et nisi conplexu adulescentu- 
lae non tepescit. Vivebat adhuc Bersabee, super- 
erat Abigea et reliquae uxores eius et concubinae, 
quas scriptura commemorat : omnes quasi frigidae 
repudiantur, in unius tantum grandaevus calescit 
amplexibus. Abraham multo David senior fuit et 
tamen vivente Sarra aliam non quaesivit uxorem ; 
Isaac duplices David annos habuit et cum Rebecca 
iam vetula numquam refrixit ; taceo de prioribus 
ante diluvium viris, qui post annos nongentos non 
dico senilibus, sed paene iam cariosis artubus nequa- 
quam puellares quaesiere conplexus ; certe Moyses, 
dux Israhelitici populi, centum viginti annos habebat 
et Sephoram non mutavit. 



I Virgil, Bucolics, IX. 51, 2 Virgil, Bucolics, IX. 53. 

' The Atellan plays were broad farces popular on the 
Roman stage. 

190 



LETTER LII 

and in another passage : 

' Age carries all things, e'en the mind, away ' ; ^ 

and a little later : 

' Those songs are all forgotten, and his voice 
Has left poor Moeris.' ^ 

But that I may not seem to quote only from 
heathen literature, listen to the sacred teaching of 
God's Book. David once had been a man of war, 
but in his seventieth year old age had chilled him 
and he could never get warm. Accordingly they 
looked for a girl in all the land of Israel and brought 
in Abishag the Shunamite to sleep with the king and 
warm his aged limbs. If you were to follow the letter 
that killeth, does not this seem to you an incident 
invented for a farce or a broad jest from an Atellan 
play } ^ The old man's cold body is wrapped in 
blankets, but nothing save a young girl's embrace 
can warm him. Bathsheba was still alive and 
Abigail was also at his service, together with all his 
other wives and concubines of whom Scripture tells 
us. But they are all rejected as lacking heat, and it 
is in the arms of one girl only that the ancient grows 
warm again. Abraham was far older than David, 
but while Sarah was still hving he did not seek 
another wife. Isaac had t^vice David's years, and 
yet never felt cold with Rebecca, even when she was 
an old woman. I say nothing of the men before the 
flood, who after nine hundred years must have found 
their limbs not merely aged but almost rotten with 
time and still never sought a young girl's embraces. 
Certainly Moses, the leader of the people of Israel, 
lived to be a hundred and twenty without changing 
his Sephora. 

191 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

3. Quae est igitur ista Somanitis uxor et virgo tarn 
fervens, ut frigidum calefaceret, tarn sancta, ut 
calentem ad libidinem iion provocaret ? Exponat 
sapientissimus Salomon patris sui-duiicias et pacificus 
bellatoris viri narret amplexus : ' Posside sapientiam, 
posside intelligentiam. Ne obliviscaris, et ne decli- 
naveris a verbis oris mei, et ne deliqueris earn, et 
ad prehe ndet te ; ama illam et servabit te. Prinei- 
pium sapientiae : posside sapientiam et in omni 
possessione tua posside intelligentiam ; eircumda 
illam et exaltabit te ; honora illam et amplexabitur 
te, ut det capiti tuo coronam gratiarum, corona 
quoque delieiarum protegat te.' 

Omnes paene virtutes corporis mutantur in senibus 
et increscente sola sapientia decrescunt ceterae : 
ieiunia, c harn euniae, hue illucque discursus, pere- 
grinorum susceptio, defensio pauperum, standi in 
oratione perseverantia, visitatio languentium, labor 
manuum, unde praebeantur elemosynae, et, ne ser- 
monem longius traham, cuncta, quae per corpus 
exercentur, fracto corpore minora fiunt. Nee hoc 
dico, quod in iuvenibus et adhuc solidioris aetatis, 
his dumtaxat, qui labore et ardentissimo studio, 
vitae quoque sanctimonia et orationis ad Deum 
frequentia scientiam secuti sunt, frigeat sapientia, 
quae in plerisque senibus aetate xnaxcfiseit, sed quod 
adulescentia multa corporis bella sustineat et inter 
incentiva vitiorum et carnis titillationes quasi ignis 
in lignis viridioribus s^JOaCfiiiii^ et suum non possit 
explicare fulgorem. Senectus vero — rursus admoneo 
— eorum, qui adulescentiam suam honestis artibus 

^ Jerome takes the story of the Shunamite (1 Kings, i) as 
an allegory. 

^ Proverbs, iv. 5. 
192 



LETTER LII 

Who then is this Shunamite, this wife and virgin, 
so fervid as to give heat to the cold, so holy as not to 
excite to lust the man she had warmed ? ^ Let 
Solomon, wisest of men, tell us of his father's darling, 
and let the man of peace recount the embraces of 
the man of war. ' Get wisdom, get understanding : 
forget it not ; neither decline from the words of my 
mouth. Forsake her not and she shall preserve thee : 
love her and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the 
principal thing, therefore get wisdom, and with all 
thy getting get understanding. Exalt her and she 
shall promote thee. She shall bring thee to honour 
when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine 
head an ornament of grace : a crown of glory shall 
she deliver to thee.' " 

In the case of old men, almost all bodily excellences 
are changed, and while wisdom alone increases they 
decrease. Fasting, sleeping on the ground, moving 
to and fro, hospitahty to strangers, the defence of 
the poor, perseverance in standing at prayer, visiting 
the sick, manual labour to supply money for alms- 
giving, in fact, not to be tedious, all actions that 
depend on the body's agency become less as the body 
decays. I do not say that young men or even those 
of riper vigour — provided that by labour and ardent 
study, by a holy life and frequent prayer to God they 
have attained knowledge — lack the warmth of 
wisdom which in many old men is ^vithered by age ; 
but I do say that youth has to endure many conflicts 
with the body, and amid incentives to \ice and 
titillations of the flesh, it is stifled, as a fire is when it 
is fed with green wood and cannot display its proper 
brightness. Old age, however — I repeat my warning 
— if men have trained their youth in honourable 

193 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

instruxerunt et in lege domini meditati sunt die ac 
nocte, aetate fit doetior, usu tritior, processu temporis 
sapientior et veterum studiorum dulcissimos fructos 
metit. 

Unde et sapiens ille Graeciae, cum expletis centum 
et septem annis se mori cerneret, dixisse fertur 
dolere, quod tunc egrederetur e vita, quando sapere 
coepisset ; Plato octogesimo et uno anno scribens 
est mortuus ; Isocrates nonaginta et novem annos 
in docendi scribendique labore conplevit; taceo 
ceteros philosophos, Pythagoram, Democritum, Xeno- 
cratem, Zenonem, Cleanthem, qui iam aetate lon- 
gaeva in sapientiae studiis floruerunt : ad poetas 
venio,Homerum,Hesiodum, Simonidem,Stesichorum, 
qui grandes natu cygneum nescio quid et solito 
dulcius vicina morte cecinerunt. Sophocles, cum 
propter nimiam senectutem et rei familiaris negle- 
gentiam a filiis accusaretur amentiae, Oedipi fabu- 
1am, quam nuper scripserat, recitavit iudicibus et 
tantum sapientiae in aetate iam fracta specimen 
dedit, ut severitatem tribunalium in theatri favorem 
verteret. Nee mirum, cum etiam Cato, Romani 
generis disertissimus, censorius iam et senex, Graecas 
litteras nee erubuerit nee desperaverit discere. 
Certe Homerus refert, quod de lingua Nestoris iam 
vetuli et paene decrepiti dulcior melle oratio fluxerit. 

Sed et ipsius ' Abisag ' nominis sacramentum 
sapientiam senum indicat ampliorem. Interpretatur 

^ Theophrastus. Cf. Cicero, Tusc. Disp. III. 69. 
^ Horn. II. i. 248 : ^Sucttijs • • • rov koi dno yXojaarjs [leXiTOS 
yXvkiwv peev avSrj. 

194 



LEFIER LII 

accomplisliments and day and night have meditated 
on the Lord's law, becomes more learned by time, 
more subtle by experience, more \vise by lapse of 
years and reaps the sweet fruit of its ancient studies. 

Therefore it was that the Greek sage,^ when he 
had reached his hundred and seventh year and saw 
himself near to death, is said to have expressed his 
grief at passing away from Ufe just at the moment 
when he was beginning to have wisdom. Plato died 
in his eighty-first year with the pen in his hand ; 
Isocrates filled ninety-nine years with the labour of 
teaching and writing. I say nothing of the other 
philosophers, Pythagoras, Democritus, Xenocrates, 
Zeno, Cleanthes, whose long life flourished ever in 
studies of A^-isdom. I come to the poets. Homer, 
Hesiod, Simonides, Stesichorus, who in their old age. 
when death drew near, sang a swan's song sweeter 
even than their wont. Sophocles in extreme old age 
neglected his aifairs and was accused by his sons of 
mental incapacity. But when he read to the court 
his recently composed play, Oedipus, and in spite of 
bodily weakness gave so signal a proof of wisdom, 
he turned the strict judgment of a tribunal into the 
enthusiastic applause of a theatre. Xor need we 
wonder, seeing that Cato, the most eloquent of the 
Romans, after he had been censor and was now an 
old man, did not blush to learn Greek nor despair of 
acquiring knowledge of that language. Homer 
certainly tells us that when Nestor was very old and 
almost decrepit, speech that was sweeter than honey 
flowed from his tongue. - 

Even the name Abishag in its mystical interpreta- 
tion points to the greater wisdom that old men 
possess. It can be explained as meaning ' my 

195 
o2 



SELECT LE'riERS OF ST. JEROME 

enim ' pater meus superfluus ' vel ' patris mei 
rugitus.' Verbum ' superfluum ' ambiguum est et 
in praesenti loco virtutem sonat, quod amplior sit in 
senibus et redundans ac larga sapientia, in alio 
autem loco ' superfluus ' quasi ' non necessarius ' 
ponitur. ' Sag ' autem, id est ' rugitus,' proprie 
nuncupatur, cum maris fluctus resonant et, ijtlita 
dinam. de pelago veniens fremitus auditur. Ex quo 
ostenditur abundantissimum et ultra humanam 
vocem divini sermonis in senibus tonitruum com- 
morari. Porro ' Somanitis ' in lingua nostra ' coc- 
cinea ' dieitur, ut significet calere sapientiam et 
divina lectione fervere ; quod, licet dominici san- 
guinis indicet sacramentum, tamen et fervorem 
ostendit sapientiae. Unde et obstetrix ilia in Genesi 
coccinum ligat in manu Phares, qui ab eo, quod 
parietem diviserat duos ante populos separantem, 
' divisoris,' id est ' Phares,' sortitus est nomen. Et 
Raab meretrix in typo ecclesiae resticulam mysteria 
sanguinis continentem, ut Hiericho pereunte salvare- 
tur, adpendit. Et in alio loco de viris Sanctis scrip- 
tura commemorat : ' Hi sunt, Cinaei qui venerunt 
de calore domus Rechab.' Et dominus noster in 
evangelio : ' Ignem,' inquit, ' veni mittere in terram 
et quam volo, ut ardeat ! ' Qui in discipulorum 
corde succensus cogebat eos dicere : ' Nonne cor 
nostrum erat ardens in nobis, dum loqueretur in via 
et aperiret nobis scripturas ? ' 

4. Quorsum haec tam longo repetita principio ? 
Ne a me quaeras pueriles declamationes, sententi- 
arum flosculos, verborum lenocinia et per fines 



^ Cf. Genesis, xxxviii. 27. 

2 1 Chronicles, ii. 55 — ^in Vulgate. 



196 



LETTER LII 

father's superfluity ' or ' my father's roaring.' The 
word ' superfluity ' is ambiguous, and in the present 
ease means ' excellence,' inasmuch as in old men 
wisdom is more copious, redundant, and plentiful. 
In other cases, however, superfluous means unneces- 
sary. As for ' shag,' that is, ' roaring,' the word is 
properly used of the sound of sea waves, when, so 
to speak, we hear the ocean murmuring. Thereby 
we see that the thunder of God's speech lingers in the 
ears of old men and is more excellent than human 
voice. Furthermore, ' Shunamite' in our language 
means scarlet, signifying the warmth of wisdom when 
it is fired by reading in God's Book : it contains a 
mystical reference to Our Lord's blood, but it also 
indicates the fervour of >visdom. So the midwife ^ 
in Genesis ties a scarlet thread to Phares' hand, 
Phares ' the di\ider,' because he divided the wall 
which till then kept the two peoples apart. The 
harlot Rahab also, who tj-pifies the Church, fastened 
a scarlet cord to her Avindow in mystical reference to 
His bloodshedding, so that she might be saved from 
Jericho's do-vATifall. In another passage again the 
Scripture savs of holy men : ' These are the Kenites 
who came from the warmth of the house of Rechab.'^ 
Finally, Our Lord says in the Gospel : ' I am come 
to cast fire upon the earth, and fain am I to see it 
kindled.'^ That fire, when kindled in the disciples' 
hearts, forced them to say : ' Did not our heart 
burn within us while He talked %vith us by the way, 
and while He opened to us the Scriptures ? ' * 

Why all these far-fetched references, you may ask. 
I want you not to expect from me any boyish 
declamation or flowery sentiment. Here there will 

s St. Luke, xii. 49 (slightly altered). * St. Luke, xxiv. 32. 

197 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

capitum singulorum acuta quaedam breviterque 
conclusa, quae plausus et clamores excitent audien- 
tum. Amplexetur me modo sapientia et Abisag 
nostra, quae numquam senescit, in meo requiescat 
sinu. Inpolluta est virginitatisque perpetuae et in 
similitudinem Mariae, cum cotidie generet semperque 
parturiat, incorrupta est. Hinc reor dixisse et apos- 
tolum ' spiritu ferventes ' et in evangelic dominum 
praedicasse, quod in fine mundi, quando iuxta pro- 
phetam Zachariam stultus pastor esse coeperit, 
sapientia decrescente * refrigescet caritas multorum.' 
Audi igitur, ut beatus Cyprianus ait, ' non diserta, 
sed fortia.' Audi fratrem collegio, patrem senio, 
qui te ab incunabulis fidei usque ad perfectam ducat 
aetatem et per singulos gradus vivendi praecepta 
constituens in te ceteros erudiat. Scio quidem ab 
avunculo tuo, beato Heliodoro, qui nunc pontifex 
Christi est, te et didicisse, quae sancta sunt, et co- 
tidie discere nflrmamque vitae eius exemplum habere 
virtutum ; sed et nostra, qualiacumque sunt, suscipe 
et libellum hunc libello illius copulato, ut, cum ille 
te monachum erudierit, hie clericum doceat esse 
perfectum. 

5. Igitur clericus, qui Christi servit ecclesiae, 
int grpretet ur primum vocabulum suum et nominis 
definitione praelata nitatur esse, quod dicitur. Si 
enim /cX^pos Graece ' sors ' Latine appellatur, 
propterea vocantur clerici, vel quia de sorte sunt 
domini vel quia dominus ipse sors, id est pars, 
clericorum est. Qui autem vel ipse pars domini 
est vel dominum partem habet, talem se exhibere 

^ Romans, xii. 11. ^ Zech. xi. 16. ^ St. Matthew, xxiv. 12. 

* Or else because they administer the KXrjpos, the Church 
estates. Cf. Fathers of the Church, p. 12. 
198 



LETTER LII 

be no meretricious writing, no terse pointed epigrams 
at the end of each paragraph, put in to excite my 
audience to loud applause. Let A^-isdom alone 
embrace me ; let my Abishag who never grows old 
nestle in my arms. She is undefiled and ever \irgin : 
like Mary every day she brings forth and is always 
in labour, but still she is stainless. Hence, methinks, 
the apostle said : ' Be fervent in spirit ' ; ^ hence also 
Our Lord in the Gospel declared that at the end of 
the world — when, according to the prophet Zechariah,- 
the shepherd shall begin to grow foolish — A\ith the 
decay of wisdom, ' the love of many shall wax cold.' ^ 
Listen then, as the blessed Cyprian says, to words 
that are weighty rather than eloquent : listen to one 
who is your brother in orders and your father in years, 
one who can guide you from faith's cradle to perfect 
manhood, and by setting forth precepts of hfe step 
by step may instruct others in instructing you. 
I know that from your uncle, the reverend Heliodorus 
who is now one of Christ's bishops, you have already 
learned and are still daily learning all that is holy 
and that you have the rule of his life as an example 
of virtue set before you. Take then this letter of 
mine for what it is worth and join my precepts to his, 
so that the one may train you in a monk's duties, the 
other may teach you to be a perfect clergjTnan, 

A clergyman then, who is a servant in Christ's 
Church, should first know the meaning of his name ; 
and when he has that accurately defined, he should 
then strive to be what he is called. For since the 
Greek kA^^os means ' lot ' or ' portion,' the clergy 
are so named, either because they are the Lord's 
portion, or else because the Lord is theirs.* Now he 
who himself is the Lord's portion, or has the Lord for 

199 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

debet, ut et possideat dominum et ipse possideatur 
a domino. Qui dominum possidet et cum propheta 
dicit : ' Pars mea dominus,' nihil extra dominum 
habere potest, quod, si quippiam aliud habuerit 
praeter dominum, pars eius non erit dominus. Verbi 
gratia, si aurum, si argentum, si possessiones, si 
variam supellectilem', cfum his partibus dominus pars 
eius fieri non dignatur. Si autem ego pars domini 
sum et .funicukis hereditatis eius, nee accipio partem 
inter ceteras tribus, sed quasi levita et sacerdos vivo 
de decimis et altari serviens altaris oblatione susten- 
tor, habens victum et vestitum his contentus ero et 
nudam crueem nudus sequar. Obsecro itaque te, 
' et repetens iterum iterumque monebo,' ne officium 
clericatus genus antiquae mihtiae putes, id est, ne 
lucra saecuh in Christi quaeras mihtia, ne plus 
habeas, quam quando clericus esse coepisti, et dica- 
tur tibi : ' Cleri eorum non proderunt eis.' Mensu- 
1am tuam pauperes et peregrini et cum illis Christus 
conviva noverit ; negotiatorem clericum et ex inope 
divitem et ex ignobili gloriosum quasi quandem 
pestem fuge. ' Corrumpunt mores bonos confabula- 
tiones pessimae.' Tu aurum contemnis, alius diligit ; 
tu calcas opes, ille sectatur ; tibi cordi est silentium, 
mansuetudo, secretum, illi verbositas, adtrita frons, 
fora placent et plateae ac medicorum tabernae : in 
tanta morum discordia quae potest esse concordia ? 



1 Psalm Ixxiii. 26. ^ Virgil, Aeneid, III. 436. 

' Jeremiah, xii. 13 : — ol KXrjpoi avriovovK ox^eArJaoi'criv avrovg- 
The LXX which Jerome quotes differs from the Vulgate and 
A.V. There is a play on the two meanings of kXtjpoi — 
portions and clergy. 

* 1 Corinthians, xv. 33. 



\ 



LETTER LI I 

his portion, must so bear himself as to possess the 
Lord and be possessed by Him. He who possesses 
the Lord and says with the prophet : ^ ' The Lord is 
my portion,' can have nothing outside the Lord; 
for if he has anything except the Lord, the Lord will 
not be his portion. For example, if he has gold and 
silver, land and inlaid furniture, with portions such 
as these the Lord will not deign to be his portion. 
If I am the Lord's portion and in the line of His 
inheritance, I receive no portion among the other 
tribes, but like the Priest and the Le\ite I live on 
tithes, and ser\ing the altar am supported by the 
altar offerings. Having food and raiment I shall be 
satisfied with them, and naked shall follow the naked 
cross. So I beseech you and ' again and yet again 
my words repeat,' - do not think that clerical orders 
are but a variety of your old military serWce ; that 
is, do not look for worldly gain when you are fighting 
in Christ's army, lest, ha\ing more than when you 
first became a clergyman, you hear it said of you : 
* Their portions (kA^oi) shall not profit them.'^ Let 
poor men and strangers be acquainted with your 
modest table, and with them Christ shall be your 
guest. Avoid, as you would the plague, a clergyman 
who is also a man of business, one who has risen 
from poverty to wealth, from obscurity to a high posi- 
tion. ' Evil communications corrupt good manners.' * 
You despise gold ; 'the other loves it. You trample 
money underfoot ; he pursues it. You dehght in 
silence, peacefulness, soUtude ; he prefers talking 
and effrontery, the markets and the streets and the 
apothecaries' shops. When your ways are so 
diverse, what unity of heart can there be between 
you? 

20I 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

H ospitio lum tuum aut raro aut numquam mulierum 
pedes terant. Omnes puellas et virgines Christi aut 
aequaliter ignora aut aequaliter dilige. Ne sub 
eodem tecto xnanseris; ne in praeterita castitate 
confidas. Nee David sanctior nee Salomone potes 
esse sapientior; memento semper, quod paradisi 
colonum de possessione sua mulier eiecerit. Aegro- 
tanti tibi sanctus quilibet frater adsistat et gerraana 
vel mater aut probatae quaelibet apud omnes fidei. 
Quod si huiusce modi non fuerint consanguinitatis 
c astimoniae que personae, multas anus nutrit ecclesia, 
quae et officium praebeant et beneficium accipiant 
minis trando, ut infirmitas quoque tua fructum habeat 
elemosynae. Scio quosdam convaluisse corpore et 
anirao aegrotare coepisse. Periculose tibi ministrat, 
cuius vultum frequenter adtendi s. Si propter offi- 
cium clericatus aut vidua tibi visitatur aut virgo, 
numquam domum solus introeas talesque habeto 
socios, quorum contubernio non infameris. Si lector, 
si acolythus, si psaltes te sequitur, non ornentur 
vestibus, sed moribus, nee calamistro crispent comas, 
sed pudieitiam habitu polliceantur. Solus cum sola 
secreto et absque arbitro non sedeas. Si familiarius 
est aliquid loquendum, habet nutricem, maiorem 
domus virginem, viduam, maritatam ; non est tam 
inhumana, ut nullum praeter te habeat, cui se 
audeat credere. Caveto omnes suspicioncs et, quid- 



LETTER Lir 

A woman's foot should seldom or never cross the 
threshold of your humble lodging. To all maidens 
and to all Christ's virgins show the same disregard 
or the same affection. Do not remain under the 
same roof with them ; do not trust your chastity in 
the past. You cannot be a man more saintly than 
Da\id, or more wise than Solomon. Remember 
always that a woman drove the tiller of Paradise 
from the garden that had been given him. If you 
are ill let one of the brethren attend you, or else your 
sister or your mother or some woman of universally 
approved faith. If there are no persons marked out 
by ties of kinship, or reputation for chastity, the 
Church maintains many elderly women who by their 
services can both help you and benefit themselves, 
so that even your sickness may bear fruit in alms- 
gi\-ing. I know of some whose bodily recovery 
coincided with spiritual sickness. There is danger for 
you in the ministrations of one whose face you are 
continually watching. If in the course of your 
clerical duties you have to \isit a widow or a virgin, 
never enter the house alone, and let your associates 
be men whose fellowship brings no disgrace. If a 
reader or acolyte or psalm-singer comes -with you, 
let their character, not their dress, be their adorn- 
ment ; let them not wave their hair with curhng 
tongs but let their outward looks be a guarantee of 
their chastity. Never sit alone and without witnesses 
with a woman in a quiet place. If there is anything 
intimate she wants to say, she has a nurse or some 
elderly \Trgin at home, some >\idow or married 
woman. She cannot be so cut off from human 
society as to have no one but yourself to whom she 
can trust her secret. Beware of men's suspicious 

203 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

quid probabiliter fingi potest, ne fingatur, ante 
devita. Crebra muniiscula et orariola et fasciolas. 
et vestes ori adplicatas, et degustatos cibos blandasque 
et dulees litterulas sanctus amor non habet. ' Mel 
meum, lumen meum meumque desiderium ' et 
ceteras ineptias amatorum, omnes delicias et lepores 
et risu dignas urbanitates in comoediis erubescimus, 
in saeculi hominibus detestamur: quanto magis in 
clericis et in clericis monachis, quorum et sacerdo- 
tium prop osito et propositum ornatur sacerdotio ! 
Nee hoc dico, quod aut in te aut in Sanctis viris ista 
formidem, sed quod in omni prQ|2QSitO} in omni gradu 
et sexu et boni et mali repperiantur malorumque 
condemnatio laus bonorum sit. 

6. Pudet dicere : sacerdotes idolorura, mimi et 
aurigae et scorta hereditates capiunt; solis clericis 
et monachis hoc lege prohibetur et prohibetur non 
a persecutoribus, sed a principibus Christianis. Nee 
de lege conqueror, sed doleo, cur meruerimus hanc 
legem. Cauterium bonum est, sed quo mihi vulnus, 
ut indigeam cauterio ? Provida severaque legis 
cautio, et tamen nee sic refrenatur avaritia. Per 
fidei commissa legibus inludimus, et quasi maiora 
sint imperatorum scita quam Christi, leges timemus, 
evangelia contemnimus. Sit heres, sed mater fili- 
orum, id est gregis sui, ecclesia, quae illos genuit, 
nutrivit et pavit. Quid nos i nserim us inter matrem 

1 By Valentinian, a.d. 368. 
204 



LETTER LI I 

thoughts, and if a tale can be invented viith some 
probability avoid gi\ing the scandalmonger his 
opportunity. Frequent gifts of handkerchiefs and 
ties, pressing a woman's dress to your lips, tasting 
her food beforehand, writing her fond and flattering 
hilleis-doux , of all this a holy love knows nothing. 
' My honey, my light, my darhng ' — lover's nonsense 
Uke this, and all such wanton playfulness and ridicu- 
lous courtesy, makes us blush when we hear it on the 
stage, and seems detestable even on the lips of 
worldhngs. How much more loathsome is it then 
in the case of monks and clergymen who adorn the 
priesthood with their vows and their vows with the 
priesthood ! I say this not because I fear such errors 
in you or in any holy man, but because in every order, 
in every rank and sex, both good and bad people are 
to be found, and to condemn the bad is to praise the 
good. 

I am ashamed to say it, but priests who serve 
idols, actors, charioteers, and harlots can all inherit 
property : clergymen and monks alone are by law 
debarred, a law passed not by persecutors but ' by 
Christian emperors.^ I do not complain of the 
enactment, but it grieves me to think that we 
deserved it. A cautery is a good thing, but how is 
it I have a wound that needs a cautery ? The law's 
precaution is stem and prudent ; yet even so greed 
is not checked. By a fiction of trusteeship we elude 
its provisions, and, as though imperial enactments 
were of more importance than Christ's commands, 
we fear the laws and despise the Gospels. If there 
must be an heir, let the Church inherit from the 
children who are her flock, the Church who bore 
reared and fed them. Why do we thrust ourselves 

205 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

et liberos ? Gloria episcopi est pauperum opibus 
providere, ignominia omnium sacerdotum est pro- 
priis studere divitiis. Natus in paupere domo et in 
tugurio rusticano, qui vix milio et cibario pane 
rugientem saturare ventrem poteram, nunc s imilam 
et mella fastidio, novi et genera et nomina piscium, 
in quo litore conca lecta sit callep, saporibus avium 
discerno provincias et ciboi'um me raritas ac novis- 
sime damna ipsa delectant. 

Audio praeterea in senes et anus absque liberis 
quorundam turpe servitium. Ipsi apponunt mattu- 
1am, obsident lectum, et purulentias stomachi et 
phlegmata pulmonis manu propria suscipiunt. Pa- 
vent ad introitum medici trementibusque labiis, an 
commodius habeant, sciscitantur et, si paululum 
senex vegetior fuerit, periclitantur ac simulata laeti- 
tia mens intrinsecus avara torquetur. Timent enim, 
ne perdant ministerium, et vivacem senem Mathu- 
salae annis conparant. O quanta apud dominum 
merces, si in praesenti pretium non speraret ! 
Quantis sudoribus hereditas cassa expetitur ! Minori 
labore margaritum Christi emi poterat. 

7. Divinas scripturas saepius lege, immo numquam 
de manibus tuis sacra lectio deponatur. Disce, quod 
doceas ; obtine eum, qui secundum doctrinam est, 



1 Cf. Juv. iv. 140. 

^ The orbi and orbae constantly referred to in Latin 
literature; cf. especially Horace, Sat. II. v. and Juv. vi. 39, 
xii. 99. 

2o6 



LETTER LII 

in between mother and children ? It is the glory of 
a bishop to provide means for the poor, but it is a 
disgrace for any priest to think of wealth for him- 
self. Though I was born in a humble home beneath 
the roof of a country cottage and once could scarcely 
get enough millet and coarse bread to satisfy the 
bowlings of my stomach, yet now I turn up my nose 
at wheaten flour and honey cakes, I know the various 
kinds of fish and their different names, I can tell for 
certain on what coast an oyster has been picked,^ I can 
distinguish by the taste from what province a bird 
comes, and it is the rarity of a dish and, in the last 
stage, the money that is wasted on it that gives me 
pleasure. 

I have been told that in some cases disgraceful 
court is paid to old men and women who have no 
children.^ These servile flatterers fetch the basin, 
sit by the bed, and catch in their own hands ordure 
and spittle. They tremble at the doctor's appear- 
ance, and with quivering Ups inquire if his patient 
is better. If for a little while the old fellow plucks 
up some strength, they are at their wits' end, and 
while they pretend to be glad their greedy soul 
suffers torments within. For they are afraid that 
they may have wasted their attentions, and they 
compare an old man with a good hold on hfe to 
Methuselah. How great would be their reward 
with the Lord, if they did not hope for immediate 
profit. With what labour do they seek an empty 
inheritance ! At less trouble they could have 
bought for themselves the pearl of Christ. 

Read God's Book continually ; nay, never let the 
sacred volume be out of your hand. Learn, so that 
you may teach. Hold fast to the words of faith, 

207 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

fidelem sermonem, ut possis exhortari in doctrina 
Sana et contradicentes revincere. * Permane in his, 
quae didicisti et credita sunt tibi, sciens, a quo 
didiceris,' ' paratus semper ad satisfaetionem omni 
poscenti te rationem de ea, quae in te est, spe.' 
Non confundant opera sermonem tuum, ne, cum in 
ecclesia loqueris, tacitus quilibet respondeat : ' Cur 
ergo haec ipse non facis ? ' E)eUcat»s magister est, 
qui pleno ventre de ieiuniis disputat ; accusare avari- 
tiam et latro potest ; sacerdotis Christi mens osque 
concordent, 

Esto subiectus pontifici tuo et quasi animae^ 
parentem suspice : amare filiorum, timer e servorum 
est : ' Et si pater sum,' inquit, ' ubi est honor meus ? 
et si dominus ego sum, ubi est timor meus ? ' Plura 
tibi in eodem viro observanda sunt nomina : mona- 
chus, pontifex, avunculus. Sed et episcopi sacer- 
dotes se sciant esse, non dominos : honorent clericos 
quasi clericos, ut et ipsis a clericis quasi episcopis 
deferatur. Scitum illud est oratoris Domitii : ' Ego 
te,' inquit, ' habeam ut principem, cum tu me non 
habeas ut senatorem ? ' Quod Aaron et filios eius, 
hoc episcopum et presbyteros noverimus : unus 
dominus, unum tempi um, unum sit etiam minis- 
terium. Recordemur semper, quid apostolus Petrus 
prj^ecipiat sacerdotibus : ' Pascite eum, qui in vobis 
est, gregem domini providentes non coacto, sed 



1 Titus, i. 9; 2 Timothy, ill. 14. ^ i i^eter, iii. 15. 
^ Malachi, i. 6. 

* Cf. Cicero, De Oratore, III. 1 : cum sibi ilium consulem 
esse negaret, cui senator ipse non esset. 

208 



LETTER LI I 

according to sound doctrine, so that you may be able 
thereby to exhort and refute the gainsayers. ' Con- 
tinue thou in the things that thou hast learned and 
hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast 
learned them ' ; ^ and ' Be ready always to give an 
answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the 
hope and faith that are in you.' ^ Your deeds must 
not belie your words, lest, when you are speaking 
in church, some one may say to himself: ' Why do 
you not practise what you preach ? ' A teacher 
fond of good living may fill his own stomach and 
then discourse on the benefits of fasting ; even a 
robber can possibly accuse others of greed ; but 
in a priest of Christ mind and mouth should be in 
harmony. 

Be obedient to your bishop, and respect him as 
your spiritual father. Sons love, slaves fear. ' If I 
be a father,' says the Scripture, ' where is mine 
honour ? and if I am a master, where is my fear ? ' ^ 
In your case one and the same man has many titles 
to your respect : he is monk, bishop, uncle. But 
even bishops should realize they are priests, not 
lords ; they should give to clergj'men the honour 
that is their due, so that the clergy may offer them 
the respect proper to bishops. The orator Domitius 
spoke to the point when he said : ' Why should I 
treat you as leader of the Senate, when you do not 
treat me as a senator ? ' * We should recognize that 
a bishop and his presbyters are Hke Aaron and his 
sons. There is but one Lord and one Temple ; there 
should be also but one nawastry. Let us always 
remember the charge which the apostle Peter gives 
to priests : ' Feed the flock of God which is among 
you, taking the oversight thereof not by constraint 

209 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

spontanea secundum Deum, neque turpilucri gratia, 
sed voluntarie, neque ut dominantes in cleris, sed 
forma facti gregi et ex animo, ut, cum apparuerit 
princeps pastorum, percipiatis inmarcescibilem gloriae 
coronam.' Pessimae consuetudinis est in quisbus- 
dam ecclesiis tacere presbyteros et praesentibus 
episcopis non loqui, quasi aut invideant aut non 
dignentur audire. ' Et si alii,' inquit Paulus aposto- 
lus, ' fuerit revelatum sedenti, prior tacet. Potestis 
enim per singulos prophetare, ut omnes discant et 
omnes consolentur. Et spiritus prophetarum pro- 
phetis subiectus est : non enim est dissensionis Deus, 
sed pacis.' Gloria patris est filius sapiens ; gaudeat 
episcopus iudicio suo, cum tales Christo elegerit 
sacerdotes. 

8. Dicente te in ecclesia non clamor populi, sed 
gemitus suscitetur ; lacrimae auditorum laudes tuae 
sint ; sermo presbyteri scripturarum lectione conditus 
sit. Nolo te declamatorem esse et raboilajn garru- 
lumque, sed mysterii peritum et sacramentorum Dei 
tui eruditissimum. Verba volvere et celeritate 
dicendi apud inperitum vulgus admirationem sui 
facere indoctorum hominum est. Adtrita frons inter- 
pretajiir saepe, quod nescit, et, cum aliis suaserit, 
simquoque usurpat scientiam, Praeceptor quondam 
meus Gregorius Nazianzenus rogatus a me, ut expo- 
neret, quid sibi vellet in Luca sabbatum SevrcpoTrpwror, 
id est ' secundoprimum,' ele ganter lusit : ' Docebo 

1 1 Peter, v. 2. ^ 1 Corinthians, xiv. 30. 

* The great Cappadocian preacher, bom a.d. 330. 

* St. Luke, vl. 1 ; cf. Leviticus, xxiii. 15. 
2IO 



LETTER LIl 

but willingly as God would have you ; not for filthy 
lucre but of a ready mind; neither as being lords 
over God's heritage but being examples to the flock, 
and that gladly, that when the chief shepherd shall 
appear ye may receive a crown of glory that fadeth 
not away.' ^ It is a very bad custom in some 
churches for presbyters to be silent and to refrain 
from speech in the presence of bishops, on the 
ground that these latter would either be jealous of 
them or think it unbecoming to be Usteners. The 
apostle Paul says : ' If anything be revealed to 
another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 
For ye may all prophesy one by one that all may 
learn and all may be comforted ; and the spirits of 
the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God 
is not the author of confusion but of peace.' ^ A 
wise son is a glory to his father ; and a bishop should 
rejoice in his o^\ti good judgment, when he chooses 
such to be priests of Christ. 

When you are preaching in church try to evoke 
not applause but lamentation. Let the tears of your 
audience be your glory. A presbyter's discourse 
should be seasoned by his reading of Scripture. Be 
not a declaimer nor a ranter nor a gabbler, but show 
youi-self skilled in God's mysteries and well acquainted 
with the secret meaning of His words. Only ignorant 
men hke to roll out phrases and to excite the admira- 
tion of the unlettered crowd by the quickness of 
their utterance. Effrontery often tries to explain 
things of which it knows nothing, and having per- 
suaded others claims knowledge for itself. My 
former teacher, Gregor}' of Nazianzus,' when I asked 
him to explain the meaning of St. Luke's phrase 
BevTfpoTTpioTov,^ that is, ' second first ' sabbath, wittily 

211 

p2 



SELECT LETfERS OF ST. JEROME 

te,' inquiens, ' supe r hac re in ecclesia, in qua omni 
mihi populo acclamante cogeris invitus scire, quod 
nescis, aut certe, si solus tacueris, solus ab omnibus 
stultitiae condemnaberis.' Nihil tarn facile, quam 
vilem plebiculam et indoctam contionem linguae 
volubilitate decipere, quae, quidquid non intellegit, 
plus miratur. Marcus Tullius, ad quern pulcherri- 
mum illud elogium est : ' Demosthenes tibi praeri- 
puit, ne esses primus orator, tu illi, ne solus,' in 
oratione pro Quinto Gallio quid de favore vulgi et de 
inperitis contionatoribus loquatur, adtende : ' His 
autem ludis — loquor enim, quae sunt ipse nuper 
expertus — unus quidam poeta dominatur, homo pei*- 
litteratus, cuius sunt ilia convivia poetarum ac philo- 
sophorum, cum facit Euripiden et Menandrum inter 
se et alio loco Socraten atque Epicurum disserentes, 
quorum aetates non annis, sed saeculis scimus fuisse 
disiunctas. Atque his quantos plausus et clamores 
movet ! Multos enim condiscipulos habet in theatro, 
qui simul litteras non didicerunt.' 

9. Vestes pullas aeque vita ut Candidas ; ornatus 
et sondes pari modo fugiendae, quia alterum delicias, 
alterum gloriam redolet. Non absque amictu lineo 
incedere, sed pretium vestium linearum non habere 
laudabile est ; alioquin ridiculum et plenum dedecoris 
referto marsuppio, quod sudarium orariumque non 
habeas, giaciari. Sunt, qui pauperibus parum tri- 

^ This speech is not extant. 
212 



LETTER LI I 

evaded my request. ' I will tell you about that 
in church,' he said, ' and there, when all the people 
applaud me, you ^^ill be compelled against your wish 
to know what you do not know, or else, if you alone 
remain silent, you will undoubtedly be put down by 
every one as a fool.' There is nothing so easy as to 
deceive a cheap mob or an ignorant congregation by 
voluble talk ; anything such people do not under- 
stand they admire all the more. Listen to Cicero, 
the man to whom that glorious eulogy was addressed : 
* Demosthenes snatched from you the glory of being 
the first of orators ; you have prevented him from 
being the only one.' In his speech for Quintus 
GalUus,^ this is what Cicero says about vulgar 
enthusiasm and ignorant mob orators : ' At these 
games — I am telling you of something within my 
own recent experience — one gentleman, a poet, has 
been cock of the walk. He is a very literary fellow 
and he has MTitten a book Conversations oj' Poets a?id 
Philosophers. In it he makes Euripides and Menander 
talk together, and in another passage Socrates and 
Epicurus, men whose lives we know to be separated 
not by years but by centuries. And yet what 
applause and cheers this stuff evokes ! He has many 
fellow pupils in the theatre, schoolfellows who went 
to the same school and learnt nothing.' 

Avoid sombre garments as much as bright ones. 
Sho\viness and slovenliness are alike to be shunned : 
the one savours of vanity, the other of boastfulness. 
To walk abroad without a linen vest is not praise- 
worthy : the good thing is not to have money to buy 
one. In any case it is absurd and scandalous to 
boast of having neither napkin nor handkerchief, 
while all the time your purse is well filled. There 

213 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

buunt, ut amplius accipiant, et sub praetextu ele- 
mosynae quaerunt divitias ; quae magis yenatio 
appellanda est quam elemosyna. Sic bestiae, sic 
aves, sic capiuntur et pisces : modica in hamo esca 
ponitur, ut matronarum in eo sacculi protrahantur. 
Scit episcopus, cui commissa est ecclesia, quem dis- 
pensationi pauperum curaeque praeficiat. Melius 
est non habere, quod tribuam, quam impudenter 
petere. Sed et genus adrogantiae est clementiorem 
te videri velle, quam pontifex Christi est. ' Non 
omnia possumus omnes.' Alius in ecclesia oculus 
est, alius lingua, alius manus, alius pes, alius auris, 
venter et cetera. Lege Pauli ad Corinthios : diversa 
membra unum corpus efficiunt. Nee rusticus et 
tantum simplex frater ideo se sanctum putet, si nihil 
noverit, nee peritus et eloquens in lingua aestimet 
sanctitatem. Multoque melius est e duobus inper- 
fectis rusticitatem sanctam habere quam eloquentiam 
peccatricem. 

10. Multi aedificant parietes et columnas ecclesiae 
substernunt : ^ marmora nitent, auro splendent lacu- 
naria, gemmis altare disting njtiir et ministrorum 
Christi nulla electio est. Neque vero mihi aliquis 
opponat dives in ludaea templum, mensam, lucernas, 
turibula, patellas, scyphos, mortariola et cetera ex 
auro fabre facta. Tunc haec probabantur a domino, 
quando sacerdotes hostias immolabant et sanguis 
pecudum erat redemptio peccatorum — quamquam 
haec omnia praecesserint in figura. ' Scripta sunt 
^ subtrahunt : Hilberg. 

1 Virgil, Bucolics, VIII. 63. 

^ If the text is right Jerome apparently means that a 
church should consist of one plain room, with no party walls 
for separate shrines and no columns. 

214 



LETTER LI I 

are some who give a trifle to the poor that they may 
themselves receive a larger sum, under the cloak of 
almsgiving seeking their own personal gain. Such 
conduct should be called almshunting rather than 
almsgiving. Thus it is that birds, beasts, and fishes 
are caught. A small piece of bait is put on the 
hook; and lo! they draw up a fine lady's purse. 
The bishop, to whose care the church is entrusted, 
knows whom he should appoint as almoner to the 
poor. It is better for me not to have anything to 
give than to be shameless in begging. It is a kind 
of arrogance also to -vvdsh to seem more generous than 
he who is Christ's bishop. ' We cannot all do all 
things.' ^ In the Church one man is the eye, another 
the tongue, another the hand, another the foot, 
another the ear, the belly, and so on. Read Paul's 
epistle to the Corinthians, and see how one body is 
made up of different members. A rough simple 
brother should not think himself saintly just because 
he knows nothing; he who is well educated and 
eloquent must not imagine that hohness consists 
in a ready tongue. Of the two imperfections a holy 
clumsiness is much better than a sinful eloquence. 
Many people build churches now Avith party walls 
and pillars to support them : - slabs of marble shine 
brightly in them, the ceihngs are gay ^vith gold, the 
altar is adorned with jewels, and no care is shoA\Ti 
in choosing Christ's ministers. Let no one object 
against me the richness of the Temple in Judaea, its 
table, lamps, censers, dishes, cups, spoons, and the 
rest of its golden ware. These things were approved 
by the Lord in the days when priests sacrificed 
victiuis, and when the blood of sheep was the redemp- 
tion of sins. They were but a figure ' written for 

215 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

autem ' propter nos, ' in quos fines saeculorum 
decurrerunt ' — nunc vero, cum paupertatem domus 
suae pauper doininus dedicarit, eogitemus crucem 
et divitias lutum putabimus. Quid miramur, quod 
Christus vocat iuiguum mammonam ? Quid suspici- 
mus et amamus, quod Petrus se non habere testatur ? 
Alioquin, si tantum litteram sequimur et in auro 
atque divitiis simplex nos delectat hjsij^ria. cum auro 
observemus et cetera : ducant pontifices Christi 
uxores virgines ; quamvis bonae mentis sit, qui 
cicatricem habuerit et deformis est, privetur sacer- 
dotio ; lepra corporis animae vitiis praeferatur ; 
crescamus et multiplicemur et repleamus terram ; 
nee immolemus agnum nee mysticum pascha cele- 
bremus, quia haec absque templo fiei-i lege pro- 
hibentur ; figamus septimo mense tabernaculum et 
sollemne ieiunium bucina concrepemus. Quodsi 
haec omnia spiritalibus spiritalia conparantes scientes- 
que cum Paulo, quod lex spiritalis est, et David 
verba cantantes : ' Revela oculos meas et considerabo 
mirabilia de lege tua ' sic intellegamus, ut dominus 
quoque noster intellexit et int erpret atlis est sabba- 
tum, aut aurum repudiemus cum ceteris supersti- 
tionibus ludaeorum aut, si aurum placet, placeant 
et ludaei, quos cum auro aut probare nobis necesse 
est aut damnare. , 

IL Convivia tibi vitanda sunt saecularium, et 
maxime eorum, qui honoribus tument. Turpe est 
ante fores sacerdotis domini crucifixi et pauperis et 



^ 1 Corinthians, x. 11. ^ St. Luke, xvi. 9. 

3 Acts, ill. 6. * Leviticus, xxi. 17. 

* Psalm cxix. 18. 

2l6 



LETTER LI I 

our admonition upon whom the ends of the world 
are come.' ^ But to-day, when Our Lord by his 
poverty has consecrated the poverty of his house, 
we should think rather of his cross and count riches 
to be but dirt, ^^'hy do we admire that which Christ 
calls the Mammon of unrighteousness ?'- Whv do we 
respect and love that which Peter proclaims he does 
not possess ? ^ Moreover, if we follow only the letter 
and find pleasure in the bare lists of riches and gold, 
let us keep to everything else together with the gold : 
let Christ's priests take \lrgins as wives ; let a man 
be deprived of his priesthood, however honest he be, 
if he is scarred or disfigured in any way ; * let bodilv 
leprosy be counted worse than spiritual faults : let 
us increase and multiply and replenish the earth ; 
let us slay no lamb and celebrate no mystic passover, 
for the law forbids these things where there is no 
temple ; let us pitch a tent in the seventh month 
and with a trumpet noise abroad the solemn fast. 
But if all these things are spiritual, and we compare 
them \sith things spiritual, and know with Paul that 
the Law is spiritual, and chant David's words : 
* Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous 
t hin gs out of thy law,' ^ understanding them as Our 
Lord understood them when He thus explained the 
Sabbath; then we should reject the gold together 
•with the rest of Jewish superstition, or, if we approve 
of the gold, we should approve of the Jews as well. 
The Jews must go with the gold whether we approve 
or condemn. 

Avoid entertaining the worldly at your table, 
especially those who are swollen Avith office. You 
are the priest of a crucified Lord, one who lived in 
poverty and on the bread of strangers, and it is a 

217 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

qui cibo quoque vescebatur alieno lictores consulum 
et milites excubare iudicemque provinciae melius 
apud te prandere quam in palatio. Quodsi obten- 
deris facere te haec, ut roges pro miseris atque 
subiectis, iudex saeculi plus defert clerico continenti 
quam diviti et magis sanctitatem tuam veneratur 
quam opes ',r aut si talis est, qui non audiat clericos 
nisi inter iS^^'f Imenter carebo huiusce modi benefieio 
et Christum rogabo pro iudice, qui magis subvenire 
potest ; melius est enim confidere in domino quam 
confidere in homine, melius est sperare in domino 
quam sperare in principibus. 

Numquam vinum redoleas, ne audias illud philo- 
sophi : ' Hoc non est osculum porrigere, sed pro- 
pina re.' Vinolentos sacerdotes et apostolus damnat 
et vetus lex prohibet. Qui altari serviunt, vinum et 
siceram non bibant. Sicera Hebraeo sermone omnis 
potio nuncupatur, quae inebriare potest, sive ilia 
fermento conficitur sive pomorum suco aut favi 
decog ujuxtur in dulcem et barbaram potionem aut 
palmarum fructus exprimantur in liquorem coctisque 
frugibus aqua pinguior colatur. Quidquid inebriat 
et statum mentis evertit, fuge similiter ut vinum. 
Nee hoc dico, quod Dei a nobis creatura damnetur, 
siquidem et dominus vini potator appellatur et 
Timotheo dolenti stomachum modica vini sorbitio 
relaxata est, sed caodum et aetatis et valetudinis et 
corporum qualitates exigimus in potando. Quodsi 
absque vino ardeo et ardeo adulescentia et inflammor 



^ Psalm cxviii. 9. 

* Cf. Leviticus, x. 9 and St. Luke, i. 15 : otvov koI aiKepa ov 

firj TTLT). 

3 St. Matthew, xi. 19; 1 Timothy, v. 23. 
2l8 



LETTER LII 

shameful thing for a consul's attendants and body- 
guard to keep watch before your door, and for a 
pro^^ncial judge to have a better luncheon \nth you 
than he would get in his palace. If you urge that 
you do this in order that you may plead for the 
unhappy and the oppressed, a worldly judge pays 
more regard to a self-denying cleric than to a rich 
one, he respects your sanctity more than your wealth. 
Or if he is the sort of man who only listens to clergy- 
men over the wine bowl, I will gladly forgo any 
benefit from him, and will address my prayer to 
Christ who is more able to help than any judge. For 
it is better to trust in the Lord than to put your 
confidence in men ; it is better to fix your hopes in the 
Lord than to expect anything from princes.^ 

Never smell of wine, lest the philosopher's words 
be said of you: ' This is not a Idss but a wine sip.' 
Priests who reek of wine are condemned by the 
apostle and forbidden by the old Law. Those who 
serve the altar must not drink either wine or shechar, 
the Law says ; - the word shechar in Hebrew means 
any intoxicating drink, whether it is made from 
barley, or from fruit juice, or from honey boiled dowm 
into a rough sweet liquor, or from pressed dates, or 
from the thick syrup strained from a decoction of 
corn. Anything that intoxicates and disturbs the 
mind's balance you must avoid as you avoid wine. 
I do not say that we should condemn a thing that God 
made, since indeed Our Lord was called a wine-bibber, 
and Timothy was allowed wine in moderation because 
of his weak stomach ; ^ but I claim that those who 
drink wine should have some reason of age or health 
or some pecuHarity of constitution. If even without 
wine I am all aglow, if I feel the fire of youth and am 

219 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

calore sanguinis et suc ulen to validoque sum corpore, 
libenter carebo poculo, in quo suspicio veneni est. 
Pulchre dicitur apud Graecos, sed nescio utrum apud 
nos aeque resonet : ' Pinguis venter non gignit 
s ensu m tenuem.' 

12. 'lantum tibi ieiuniorum inpone, quantum 
ferre potes. Sint pura, casta, simplicia, moderata, 
non superstitiosa ieiunia. Quid prodest oleo non 
vesci et molestias quasdam difficultatesque ciborum 
quaerere ? Qayi cae. piper, nuces, palmarum fructus, 
simila, mel, pistatia, tota hortorum cultura V-Cxatur, 
ut cibario non vescamur pane. Audio praeterea 
quosdam contra rerum hominumque naturam aquam 
non bibere nee vesci pane, sed sorbitiunculas delicatas 
et contrita holera betarumque sucum non calice 
sorbere, sed conca. Pro pudor, non erubescimus 
istiusmodi ineptiis nee taedet superstitionis ! Insuper 
etiam famam abstinentiae in deliciis quaerimus. 
Fortissimum ieiunium est aqua et panis ; sed quia 
gloriam non habet et omnes pane et aqua vivimus, 
quasi publicum et commune ieiunium non putatur. 

13. Cave, ne hominum rjunausculos aucuperis, ne 
oflfensam Dei populorum laude commutes. ' Si 
adhuc,' inquit apostolus, ' hominibus placerem, 
Christi servus non essem ' ; desivit placere hominibus 
et servus factus est Christi. Per bonam et malam 
famam a dextris et a sinistris Christi miles graditur, 
nee laude extollitur, nee vituperatione frangitur, non 
divitiis tumet, non coniraliitur paupertate, et laeta 
contemnit et tristia. Per diem sol non uret eum 



^ 7ra;^era yaoTTjp XeirTov ov tiktu voov. 
2 Galatians, i. 10. 



LETTER LI I 

inflamed by hot blood, if I am of a strong and lusty 
habit of body, then I \n\\ readily forgo the ^\ine cup, 
in which I may well suspect that poison lurks. The 
Greeks have a pretty proverb ^ which perhaps in 
our language loses some of its force : ' A fat paunch 
never breeds fine thoughts.' 

Impose upon yourself such fasting as you are able 
to bear. Let your fasts be pure, chaste, simple, 
moderate, and free from sup>erstition. ^Vhat good 
is it to abstain from oil and then to seek after food 
that is troublesome to prepare and difficult to get, 
dried figs, pepper, nuts, dates, wheaten flour, honey, 
pistachios ? All the resources of the garden are laid 
under contribution to avoid eating ordinary bread. 
I have heard that some people outrage nature, and 
neither drink water nor eat bread, but imbibe fancy 
decoctions of pounded herbs and beet juice, using a 
shell to drink from, in place of a cup. Shame on us ! 
We do not blush at such silliness and we feel no dis- 
gust at such superstition. Moreover, by such fanci- 
fulness we seek a reputation for abstinence. The 
strictest fast is bread and water : but as that brings 
no glory with it and bread and water are our usual 
food, it is reckoned not a fast but an ordinary and 
common matter. 

Beware of angUng for compUments, lest you lose 
God's favour in exchange for the people's praise. 
' If I yet pleased men,' says the apostle, ' I should 
not be the servant of Christ.' - He ceased to please 
men and became Christ's servant. Through good 
and bad report on right hand and on left Christ's 
soldier marches ; he is not elated by praise nor crushed 
by abuse ; he is not puffed up by riches nor depressed 
by poverty ; he despises joy and sorrow alike. The 

221 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

neque luna per noctem. Nolo te orarc in angulis 
platearum, ne rectum iter precum tuarum frangat 
aura popularis ; nolo te dilatare fi mhria s et ostentui 
habere <f>vXaKTT^pia et conscientia repugnante phari- 
saeica ambitione circumdari. Melius est haec in 
corde portare quam in corpore, Deum habere 
fautorem, non aspectus hominum. Vis scire, quales 
dominus quaerat ornatus ? Habeto prudentiam, 
iustitiam, temperantiam, fortitudinem. His plagis 
caeli includere, haec te quadriga velut aurigam Christi 
ad metam c pncitum ferat. Nihil hoc monili pre- 
tiosius, nihil hac gemmarum varietate distinctius. 
Ex omni parte decoraris, cingeris atque protegeris ; 
et ornamento tibi sunt et tutamini : gemmae 
vertuntur in scuta. 

14. Cave quoque, ne aut linguam aut aures habeas 
p rurient es. id est, ne aut ipse aliis detrahas aut alios 
audias detrahentes. ' Sedens,' inquit, ' adversus 
fratrem tuum loquebaris et adversus filium mati'is 
tuae ponebas scandalum ; haec fecisti et tacui. 
Existimasti iniquitatem, quod ero tibi similis ; 
arguam te et statuam contra faciem tuam.' Subau- 
ditur : ' Sermones tuos et cilncta, quae de aliis es 
locutus, ut tua sententia iudiceris in his ipse depre- 
hensus, quae in aUis arguebas.' Neque vero ilia 
iusta est excusatio : * Referentibus aliis inrujiam 
facere non possum.' Nemo invito auditori libenter 
refert. Sagitta in lapide numquam figitur, interdum 

^ Psalm cxxi. 6. ^ Matt. vi. 5 and xxiii. 5. 

3 Psalm 1. 20. 
222 



LETTER LII 

sun will not burn him by day nor the moon by night.* 
Do not pray at the corners of a square, lest the breeze 
of popular favour interrupt the straight course of 
your prayers. Do not broaden your fringes and wear 
phylacteries for show, or wrap yourself in despite of 
conscience in Pharisaic ostentation.- It is better to 
carry all this in the heart, rather than on the body, 
to have God's approval rather than to please the 
eyes of men. Would you know what kind of orna- 
ments the Lord requires ^ Have prudence, justice, 
temperance, fortitude. Let these be your four 
cardinal points, let them be your four-in-hand to 
carr\' you, Christ's charioteer, at full speed to your 
goal. No necklace can be more precious than 
these, no jewels can make a brighter galaxy. On 
every side they form a decoration, a girdle, a defence ; 
they are both an ornament and a protection ; their 
jewels are turned into shields. 

Beware also of an itching tongue and ears : in 
other words, do not detract from others or listen to 
detractors. * Thou sittest,' says the Scripture, 
* and speakest against thy brother ; thou slanderest 
thine ovm mother's son. These things hast thou 
done and I kept silence ; thou thoughtest ^^ickedly 
that I was such an one as thyself, but I will reprove 
thee, and set the matter before thine eyes.'^ The 
meaning of the passage is this — ' Watch over your 
talk and over every word you say about others ; 
by your own sentence you will be judged, and you 
will yourself be caught committing the faults you 
blamed in other men.* It is not a proper excuse to 
say : ' If other people report something to me I 
cannot be rude to them.' No one Ukes to bring 
reports to an un'wilhng listener. An arrow never 

223 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

resiliens percutit dirigentem. Discat detractor, 
dum te viderit non libenter audire, non facile detra- 
here. * Cum detractoribus,' ait Salomon, ' ne 
miscearis, quoniam repente veniet perditio eorum, 
et ruinam utriusque quis novit? ' Tam videlicet 
eius, qui detrahit, quam illius, qui aurem accommodat 
detrahenti. 

15. Officii tui est visitare languentes, nosse domos, 
matronas ac liberos earum et nobilium virorum non 
ignorare secreta. Officii ergo tui sit non solum oculos 
castos servare, sed et linguam. Numquam de formis 
mulierum disputes, nee alia domus, quid agatur in 
alia, per te noverit. Hippocrates adiurat discipulos, 
antequam doceat, et in verba sua iurare conpellit ; 
extorquetque sacramento silentium ; sermonem, 
incessum, habitum moresque describit : quanto 
magis nos, quibus animarum medicina commissa est, 
omnium Christianorum domos debemus amare quasi 
proprias. Consolatores potius nos in maeroribus 
suis quam convivas in prosperis noverint. Facile 
contemnitur clericus, qui saepe vocatus ad prandium 
non recusat. i 

16. Numquam petentes raro accipiamus rogati. 
Nescio quo enim modo etiam ipse, qui deprecatur, 
ut tribuat, cum acceperis, viliorem te iudicat et 
mirum in modum, si rogantem cojatfiiapseris, plus 

1 Proverbs, xxiv. 21. Vulgate. 

2 See Hippocrates (L.C.L. i. 291 ff.) : 'To hold my teacher in 
this art equal to my own parents ... I will keep pure and 
holy both my life and my art. . . . Whatsoever I shall see 

224 



LETTER LII 

lodges in a stone, but it sometimes recoils and wounds 
the shooter. Let detractors, seeing your reluctance 
to Listen, learn not to be so ready to detract. Solomon 
says : ' Meddle not ^v^th them that are given to 
detraction : for their calamity shall rise suddenly ; 
and who knoweth the destruction of them both ? ' ^ — 
the destruction, that is, both of the detractor and of 
the person who lends ear to him. 

It is part of your duty to visit the sick, to be 
acquainted with people's households, with matrons, 
and with their children, and to be entrusted with the 
secrets of the great. Let it therefore be your duty 
to keep your tongue chaste as well as your eyes. 
Never discuss a woman's looks, nor let one house 
know what is going on in another. Hippocrates,'^ 
before he will instruct his pupils, makes them take 
an oath and compels them to swear obedience to 
him. That oath exacts from them silence, and 
prescribes for them their language, gait, dress, and 
manners. How much greater an obligation is laid 
on us who have been entrusted with the healing of 
souls ! We ought to love every Christian household 
as though it were our own. Let them know us as 
comforters in their sorrows rather than as guests in 
their days of prosperity. A clergyman soon becomes 
an object of contempt, if, however often he is invited 
to dinner, he does not refuse. 

We should never ask for gifts, and seldom accept 
them even when begged to do so. Somehow or 
other the very man who entreats leave to offer you a 
present holds you the cheaper for accepting it ; if 
you refuse, it is strange how much more admiration 

and hear in the course of my profession ... I will never 
divulge' (p. 299). 

225 



SELFXT LETl^ERS OF ST. JEROME 

miratur. Praedicator continentiae, nuptias ne con- 
ciliet. Qui apostolum legit : ' Superest, ut et qui 
habent uxores, sic sint, quasi non habentes,' cur 
virginem cogit, ut nubat ? Qui de monogamia 
sacerdos est, quare viduam hortatur, ut 8tya/xo^ sit ? 
Procuraieres et dispefisatores domorum alienarum 
atque villarum quomodo esse possunt, qui proprias 
iubentur contemnere facultates ? Amico quippiam 
rapere furtum est, ecclesiam fraudare sacrilegium 
est. Accepisse pauperibus progandum et esurienti- 
bus plurimis vel cautum esse vel timidum aut — quod 
apertissimi sceleris est — aliquid inde subtrahere 
omnium praedonum crudelitatem superat. Ego 
fame torqueor et tu iudicas, quantum ventri meo 
satis sit? Aut divide statim, quod acceperis, aut, si 
timidus dispensator es, dimitte largitorem, ut sua 
ipse distribuat. Nolo sub qccasi©«e mea sacculus 
tuus plenus sit. Nemo me melius mea servare 
potest. Optimus dispensator est, qui sibi nihil 
reservat. 

17. Coegisti me, Nepotiane carissime, lapidato iam 
virginitatis libello, quem sanctae Eustochiae Romae 
scripseram, post annos decem rursus Bethleem ora 
reserare et confodiendum me Unguis omnium prodere. 
Aut enim nihil scribendum fuit, ne hominum iudicium 
subiremus, quod tu facere prohibuisti, aut scribentes 
nosse cunctorum adversum nos maledicorum tela 
torquenda. Quos obsecro, quiescant et desinant 
maledicere ; non enim ut adversarii, sed ut amici 



* 1 Corinthians, vii. 29. 

2 A ' bigamist ' in the early Church was one who remarried. 

3 Cf. Letter XXII. 

226 



LETTER LII 

for you he feels. The preacher of continence must 
not try to arrange marriages. The apostle says : 
It remaineth that they who have wives be as though 
they had none.' ^ Why then should a man who 
reads those words force a virgin into marriage ? A 
priest is a monogamist : why should he urge a widow 
to be a bigamist ? ^ How can clergjTnen be agents 
and stewards of other men's households in tovm or 
country, when they are bidden to disregard even 
their o\^'n interests ? To rob a friend is theft, but 
to defraud the Church is sacrilege. When you have 
received money to be spent on the poor, to be 
cautious and timid with it while crowds are hungry, 
or — what is most manifest villainy — to take any of it 
for yourself, is to surpass the cruelty of the worst 
robber. While I am racked with hunger, are you to 
judge how much will satisfy my cravings ? Either 
distribute immediately what you have received, or, 
if you are a timid almoner, dismiss the donor to 
hand out his own gifts. I do not ^\^sh your purse 
to be full by taking advantage of me. No one can 
look after what is mine better than I can. The best 
almoner is he who keeps back nothing for himself. 

The treatise on \irginity which I ^^■Tote at Rome to 
the saintly Eustochium ^ was greeted with showers of 
stones, and you, my dearest Nepotian, have com- 
pelled me now ten years later to open my mouth 
again at Bethlehem, and to expose myself to the stabs 
of every tongue. If I were to escape criticism either 
I had to refrain from WTiting altogether — ^which you 
rendered impossible — or if I wrote I knew that all 
the shafts of calumny would be hurled against me. 
I beg my opponents now to hold their peace and 
cease from abuse. I have ■smtten not as an adversary 

227 
q2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

scripsimus, nee invecti sumus in eos, qui peccant, 
sed, ne peccent, monuimus. Neque in illos tantum, 
sed et in nos ipsos severi iudices fuimus volentesque 
festucam de oculo alterius tollere nostram prius 
trabem eiecimus. Nullum laesi, nullus saltim 
descriptione signatus est, neminem specialiter mens 
sermo pulsavit: generalis de vitiis disputatio est. 
Qui mihi irasci voluerit, prius ipse de se, quod talis 
sit, confitetur. 

LIV 

Ad Furiam de Viduitate Servanda 

1. Obsecras litteris et suppliciter deprecaris, ut 
tibi scribam, immo rescribam,i quomodo vivere 
debeas et viduitatis coronam inlaeso pudicitiae 
nomine conservare. Gaudet animus, exultant viscera, 
gestit afFectus hoc te cupere esse post virum, quod 
sanctae memoriae mater tua Titiana multo fuit 
tempore sub marito. Exauditae sunt preces et 
orationes eius. Inpetravit in unica filia, quod vivens 
ipsa possederat. Habes praeterea generis tui grande 
privilegium, quod exinde a Camillo vel nulla vel rara 
vestrae familiae scribitur secundos nosse concubitus, 
ut non tam laudanda sis, si vidua perseveres, quam 
^ rescribam, immo scribam : Hilberg. 

^ Furia was one of the many rich and noble ladies who 
gathered round Jerome while he was living in Rome. After 
her first husband's death she had thought of a second 
marriage, but abandoned the idea and devoted herself to the 
care of her young children and aged father. In this letter, 
written a.d. 394, Jerome lays down rules for her conduct in 
widowhood, and commends her to the care of the presbyter 
Exuperius, who afterwards became Bishop of Toulouse. Cf. 
p. 436, note 3. 
228 



LETTER LII AND LETTER L. 

but as a friend. I have not inveighed against siu 
I have only counselled men not to sin. I ha 
judged myself as strictly as I judge them, and have 
cast out the beam from my o\vn eye before I tried to 
remove a mote from my neighbour's. I have hurt 
no one ; at least no one has been marked out for 
special mention, and my discourse has not attacked 
individuals but has been a general criticism of weak- 
nesses. If any one insists on being angry with me, 
he confesses thereby that in his case the cap fits. 



LETTER LIV 

To FURIA^ ox THE DUTY OF REMAINIXG A WIDOW 

Written a.d. 394 

Is your letter you beg and beseech me to write — ■ 
or rather to write by retiu-n — and tell you how you 
ought to hve, keeping the crown of widoAvhood in 
imsulUed chastity. My heart rejoices, my bowels 
exult, my every fibre thrills to know that you desire 
to be after marriage what your mother Titiana of 
saintly memory was for many a year in marriage. 
Her prayers and entreaties have been heard. In her 
only daughter she has been granted that which she 
herself possessed in her hfetime. Moreover, it is 
the pecuhar glory of your family that from the days 
of Camillus - few or none of your women are recorded 
as having known a second husband's bed. Therefore 
you will not be so much deserving of praise if you 
persist in widowhood, as you would be worthy of 

* Furius Camillus, fl. 400 B.C. 

229 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

execranda, si id Christiana non serves, quod per 
tanta saecula gentiles feminae custodierunt. 

2. Taceo de Paula et Eustochio, stirpis vestrae 
floribus, ne per occasionem exhortationis tuae illas 
laudare videar, Blesillamque praetereo, quae maritum 
suum, tuum secuta germanum, in brevi vitae spatio 
t^nipora virtutum multa complevit. Atque utinam 
praeconia feminarum imitarentur viri et rugosa 
senectus redderet, quod sponte ofFert adulescentia ! 
Sciens et videns in flammam mitto manum : addu- 
centur supercilia, extendetur brachium * iratusque 
Chremes tumido desaeviet ore.' Consurgunt pro- 
ceres et adversum epistolam meam turba patricia 
detonabit me magum, me seductorem clamitans 
in terras ultimas asportandum. Addant, si volunt, 
et Samaritan, ut domini mei titulum recognoscam. 
Certe filiam a parente non divido nee dico illud de 
evangelio : 'Sine mortui sepeliant mortuos suos.' 
Mvit enim, qui credit in Christo, et, qui in ilium 
credit, debet utique, ' quomodo ille ambulavit, et 
ipse ambulare.' 

3. Facessat invidia, quam nomine Christiano 
malidicorum semper genuinius infigit, ut, dum probra 
metuunt, ad virtutes non provocent. Exceptis 
epistulis ignoramus alterutrum, solaque causa pietatis 
est, ubi carnis nulla notitia est. ' Honora patrem 
tuum,' sed, si te a vero patre non separat. Tarn diu 

1 Cf. table on p. 482. 

2 Horace, Ars Poetica, 94; the Chremes of Terence, 
H f anion Timor oumenos. Act 5, is angry with his son because 
of a degrading love affair. 

3 St. John, viii. 48. 

« St. Matthew, viii. 22. 
5 1 John, ii. 6. 
* Exodus, XX. 12. 

230 



LETTER LIV 

execration if you, a Christian, failed to keep a custom 
which heathen women observed for so many 
generations. 

I say nothing of Paula and Eustochium, those fair 
flowers of vour stock, lest I should use the opportunity 
of exhorting you to praise them. I pass over 
Blesilla also, who following your brother her husband 
to the grave fulfilled in her life's brief span many 
years of \'irtue.^ I only wish that men would follow 
the example that women have publicly given them, 
and that WTinkled age would render that which youth 
offers of its o\\ti free >\ill. I am thrusting my hand 
into the fire knowingly and with my eyes open. 
Brows will be knitted, fists shaken against me and 
' with swelling voice will angry Chremes rage.' ^ 
Our great men rise from their chairs, and in 
answer to this letter of mine the patrician mob will 
thunder out : ' Magician, seducer ; transport him to 
the ends of the earth.' If they like, they may call 
me ' Samaritan ' as well ; for then I shall recognize a 
name that was given to my Lord.^ Assuredly I do 
not separate the daughter from her mother nor do I 
use the words of the Gospel : ' Let the dead bury 
their dead.' * For he is alive who believes in Christ, 
and he who believes in Him ought in any case 
' himself also so to walk even as He walked,' ^ 

A truce to the envious attack which the tooth of 
calumny is always making upon the name of Christian, 
hoping to dissuade men from virtue by fear of abuse. 
Except by letter we know nothing of one another, 
and where there is no knowledge in the flesh the only 
motive for friendship is one of piety. ' Honour thy 
father,' ^ but only if he does not separate you from 
your true Father. Acknowledge the tie of blood, 

* 231 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

scito sanguinis copulam, quam diu ille suum noverit 
creatorem : alioquin David tibi protinus canet : 
' Audi, filia, et vide et inclina aurem tuam et oblivis- 
cere populum tuum et domum patris tui; et con- 
cupiscet re* decorem tuum, quia ipse est dominus 
Deus tuus.' Grande praemium parentis obliti : 
* Concupiscet rex decorem tuum,' Quia audisti, 
quia vidisti, quia inclinasti aurem tuam et populi tui 
domusque patris oblita es, ideirco ' concupiscet 
rex decorem tuum ' et dicet tibi : ' Tota pulchra es, 
proxima mea, et macula non est in te.' Quid 
pulchrius anima, quae Dei filia nuncupatur et nuUos 
extrinsecus quaerit ornatus ? Credit in Christum et 
hac ambitione c\itata pergit ad sponsum«eundem 
habens dominum, quem et virum. 

4. Quid angustiarum habeant nuptiae, didicisti in 
ipsis nuptiis et quasi coturnicum carnibus usque ad 
nausiam saturata es. SmaTlssTmam choleram tuae 
sensere fauces, egessisti acescentes et morbidos 
cibos, relevasti aestuantem stomachum : quid vis 
rursus iiigerere, quod tibi noxium fuit ? ' Canis 
revertens ad vomitum suum et sus ad 'vxilutahrum 
luti.' Bruta quoque animalia et vagae aves in 
easdem pedicas retiaque non incidunt. An vereris, 
ne proles Furiana deficiat et ex te parens tuus non 
habeat pusionem, qui reptet in pectore et cervices 
eius stercore linat.'' Quippini.-* Omnes habent 
filios, quae habuere matrimonia, et, quibus nati sunt 
liberi, suo generi responderunt ! Exhibuit Ciceronis 
filius patrem in eloquentia ? Cornelia vestra, pudici- 

1 Psalm xlv. 10. ^ Song of Solomon, iv. 7. 

3 Numbers, xi. 31 ff. * 2 Peter, ii. 22. 

® Fremantle thinks this refers to the connection between 
Furia and Paula's family, who traced their descent from the 
Gracchi, cf section 1.3, p. 253, where Eustochium is referred 
to as Furia's sister. 
232 



LETTER LIV 

but only so long as he recognizes his Creator. Other- 
viise David at once vriW sing to you : ' Hearken, O 
daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear ; forget 
also thine owti people and thy father's house. So 
shall the king greatly desire thy beauty for he is thy 
Lord.' ^ Great is the reward for forgetting a parent : 
' the king shall desire thy beauty.' Because you 
have heard, considered, incUned your ear, and for- 
gotten your people and your father's house, ' the king 
will desire your beauty ' and will say to you : ' Thou 
art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.' ^ 
What can be fairer than a soul which is called 
daughter of God and seeks no outward adorning? 
She beheves in Christ and enriched by this ambition 
she goes to her Spouse, having her Lord for Bride- 
groom. 

The trials of marriage you have learned in the 
married state : you have been surfeited to nausea 
as though with the flesh of quails.^ Your mouth 
has tasted the bitterest of gall, you have voided 
the sour unwholesome food, you have reheved 
a heaving stomach. Why would you put into it 
again something which has already proved harmful 
to you ? ' The dog is turned to his own vomit again 
and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the 
mire,' * Even brute beasts and roving birds do not 
fall into the same snares or nets twice. Are you 
afraid that the line of Camillus will cease to exist and 
that your father will not have a brat of yours to 
crawl upon his breast and soil his neck with nasti- 
ness? Well, do all those who marry have children, 
and when children are bom do they always answer to 
their family's fame? Did Cicero's son show his 
father's eloquence ? Had your own Comeha,^ pattern 

233 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

tiae simul et fecunditatis exemplar, Gracchos suos se 
genuisse laetata est ? Ridiculum sperare pro certo, 
quod multos et non habere videas et, cum habuerint, 
perdidisse. Cui dimittis tantas divitias ? Christo, 
qui mori non potest. Quem habebis heredem? 
Ipsum, quem et dominum. Contristabitur pater, 
sed laetabitur Christus ; lugebit familia, sed angeli 
gratulabuntur. Faciat pater, quod vult, de sjihitantia 
sua : non es eius, cui nata es, sed cui renata, et qui 
te grandi pretio redemit, sanguine suo. 

5. Cave nutrices et gerulas et istius modi vinosa 
animalia, quae de corio tuo saturare ventrem suum 
cupiunt. Non suadent, quod tibi, sed, quod sibi 
prosit, et saepe illud obganniunt : 

* Solane perpetua maerens carpere iuventa 
Nee dulces natos Veneris nee praemia noris ? ' 

Ubi pudicitia et sanctitas, ibi frugalitas est; ubi 
frugalitas, ibi damna servorum. Quidquid non 
tlilerint, sibi ablatum putant, nee considerant, de 
quanto, sed quantum accipiant ; ubicumque viderint 
Christianum, statim illud e trivio : o FpatKos, 6 linOe- 
Tr)<;. Hi rumores turpissimos serunt et, quod ab ipsis 
egressum est, ab aliis audisse se simulant, idem 
auctores et exaggeratores. Exin fama de mendacio, 
quae, cum ad matrones pervenerit et earum Unguis 

1 Virgil, Aeneid, IV. 32. 
234 



LETTER LR' 

alike of chastity and fruitfulness, cause to rejoice in 
being mother of the Gracchi ? It is absurd to expect 
as certain the children, which you see many fail to 
obtain, and many lose after they have got them. 
To whom are you going to leave your great wealth ? 
To Christ who cannot die. Whom shall you make 
your heir? The same who is already your Lord. 
Your father •vriW look sad, but Christ will rejoice : 
your family vriW grieve, but the angels will give you 
their congratulations. Your father may do what he 
likes with his own estates : you are not his to whom 
you have been born, but His to whom you have been 
born again, and who has ransomed you at a great 
price, even ^\iih His o\yn blood. 

Beware of foster-mothers and nurses and other 
drunken creatures of their kind, who desire to fill 
their bellies at the expense of your skin. They 
ad\ise you for their own benefit, not yours, con- 
tinually dinning the poet's lines into your ears : 

' And ^vill you ever waste your youth in grief. 
Nor children know and the sweet gifts of love ? ' ^ 

WTiere there is holiness and chastity, there also 
is frugality. And where there is frugality, there 
is the servants' loss. \Miat they do not get they 
think is taken from them, and they consider only 
their wages, not your income. Wlienever they see 
a Christian they at once raise the street-cry — ' The 
Greek ! The impostor ! ' They spread abroad the 
foulest scandals, pretending they have heard from 
others what really emanates from themselves and 
exaggerating the stories which they originate. 
Their lies give rise to talk which soon reaches our 
matrons' ears, and fanned by their tongues spreads 

235 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

fuerit ventilata, provincias penetrat. Videas pleras- 
que rabido ore saevire et tincta facie, viperinis 
orbibus, dentibus pumicatis carpere Christianos. 
Hie aliqua, 

' Cui circa humeros hyacinthina laena est, 
Rancidulum quiddam balba de nare locuta 
Perstrepit ac tenero supplantat verba palato.' 

Omnis consonat chorus et latrant universa subsellia. 
lunguntur nostri ordinis, qui et roduntur et rodunt 
adversum nos loquaces, pro se muti; quasi et ipsi 
aliud sint quam monaclii, et non, quidquid in mona- 
chos dicitur, redunde t in clericos, qui patres sunt 
monachorum. Detrimentum pecoris pastoris igno- 
minia est, sicut ej:egiaiie illius monachi vita laudatur, 
qui venerationi habet sacerdotes Christi et non 
detrahit gradui, per quern factus est Christianus. 

6. Haec locutus sum, in Christo filia, non dubitans 
de proposito tuo — numquam enim exhortatorias 
litteras postulares, si ambigeres de bono mono- 
gamiae — sed ut nequitiam servulorum, qui te venalem 
portant, et insidias adfinium ac pium parentis errorem 
intellegeres, cui, ut amorem in te tribuam, amoris 
scientiam non concedo dicens aliquid cum apostolo : 
' Confiteor, zelum Dei habent, sed non secundum 

1 Persius, T. 32. 
236 



LEITER LIV 

through every province. You may see many such 
ladies vtith painted faces, their eyes like those of 
vipers and their teeth rubbed •with, pumice stone, 
who when they are girding at Christians actually 
foam at the mouth Avith mad rage. One of them, 

' A violet mantle round her shoulders thrown, 
Drawls out some mawkish stuff, speaks through 

her nose. 
And minces half her words with tripping tongue.' ^ 

At that the rest of the band chime in, and the 
whole company falls a-snarling. They are backed 
up by men of my own order, who being themselves 
a mark for scandal spread scandal about others ; 
they are fluent enough in attacking me, but in their 
o\vn defence they are dumb. As though, forsooth, 
they were not monks themselves, and as though 
all that is said against monks does not reflect on the 
clergy who are their spiritual fathers ! To hurt the 
flock is to shame the shepherd. On the other hand, 
we must praise the life of a monk who holds Christ's 
priests in veneration, and does not carp at the order 
by whose offices he became a Christian. 

I have said all this, my daughter in Christ, not 
because I doubt your steadfastness in your vows, 
for you would never have requested a letter of 
advice if you had been uncertain that monogamy 
was a good thing, but that you may understand the 
rascality of servants who hold you as something to 
be sold,- the snares laid for you by relatives, and 
your father's mistaken kindness. I allow that your 
father loves you, but I do not admit that his love 
is according to knowledge, and I say ^^ith the apostle : 
' I confess that they have a zeal of God, but not 

237 



SELECT LETfERS OF ST. JEROME 

scientiam.' Imitare potius — crebro enim id repetam 
— sanctam matrem tuam, cuius ego quotiens recorder, 
venit in mentem ardor eius in Christum, pallor ex 
ieiuniis, elemosyna in pauperes, obsequium in 
servos Dei, humilitas et cordis et vestium atque in 
cunctis sermo moderatus. Pater tuus, quern ego 
honoris causa nomino — non quia consularis et 
patricius, sed quia Christianus est — inpleat nomen 
suum et laetetur filiam Christo se genuisse, non 
saeculo; quin potius doleat, quod et virginitatem 
frustra amiseris et fructus perdideris nuptiarum. 
Ubi est maritus, quem tibi dedit ? Etiamsi amabilis, 
etiamsi bonus fuisset, mors finisset omnia et copulam 
carnis solvisset interitus. Arripe, quaeso, occasionem 
et fac de necessitate virtutem. Non quaeruntur in 
Christianis initia, sed finis : Paulus male coepit, sed 
bene finivit ; ludae laudantur exordia, sed finis 
proditione damnatur. Lege Ezechiel : ' lustitia 
iusti non liberabit eum, in quacumque die peccaverit, 
et inpietas inpii non nocebit ei, in quacumque die 
conversus fuerit ab inpietate sua.' Ista est scala 
lacob, per quam angeli conscendunt et descendunt, 
cuius dominus innititur lapsis ^ porrigens manum et 
fessos ascend entium gressus sui njntpmplntirrie 
sustentans. Sed, sicut non vult mortem peccatoris, 

^ lassis: Hilberg. 

^ Komans, x. 2. " Ezekiel, xxxiii. 12. 

238 



LETTER LIV 

according to knowledge ! ' ^ Take rather for model 
— -I cannot repeat it too often — your saintly 
mother ; whose ardent love for Christ comes into 
my mind whenever I remember her, and with it 
the pallor caused by fasting, the alms she gave to 
the poor, the respect she showed to God's servants, 
the humility of her heart and dress, and the constant 
restraint she put upon her tongue. As for your 
father — I speak of him with all respect, not because 
he is a patrician and of consular rank, but because 
he is a Christian — let him fulfil his Christian obliga- 
tions and rejoice that he has begotten a daughter 
for Christ and not for the world. Nay, rather let 
him grieve that you have lost your virginity in vain, 
and have failed to reap any of the fruits of marriage. 
Where now is the husband whom he gave you ? 
Even if he had been lovable and good, death would 
have ended everything and this decease would have 
broken the fleshly bond. Seize the opportunity, 
I beg, and make a virtue of necessity. In the case 
of Christians, we look not to their beginnings but 
to their end. Paul began badly but ended well. 
Judas is praised in his early days ; his end is con- 
demned by reason of his treachery. Read Ezekiel : 
' The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver 
him in the day of his transgression ; as for the wicked- 
ness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the 
day that he turneth from his wickedness.' ^ Ours 
is that Jacob's ladder, on which the angels go up 
and down, while the Lord leans over holding out 
His hand to those who slip and sustaining by the 
vision of Himself the weary steps of those who 
ascend. But even as He wishes not the death of 
a sinner, but only that he should turn again and 

239 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

tantum ut revertatur et vivat, ita tepidos odit et cito 
ei nausiam faciunt. Cui plus dimittitur, plus diligit. 
7. Meretrix ilia in evangelic baptizata lacrimis suis 
et crine, qui multos ante deceperat, pedes domini 
tergente servata est. Non habuit crispantes mitras 
nee stridentes calceolos nee orbes stibio_ftiliginatos, 
quanto foedior, tanto pulchrior. [Quid facit in facie 
Christianae purpurissus et cerussa ? Quorum alterum 
ruborem genarum labiorumque mentitur, alterum 
candorem oris et colli : ignes iuvenum, fomenta 
libidinum, inpudicae mentis indicia. Quomodo flere 
potest pro peccatis suis, quae lacrimis cutera nudat et 
sulcos ducit in facie? Ornatus iste non domini est, 
velamen istud antichristi est^ Qua fiducia erigit ad 
caelum vultus, quos conditor non agnoscat ? Frustra 
obtenditur adulescentia et aetas puellaris a dserit ur : 
vidua, quae marito placere desivit et iuxta apostolum 
vere vidua est, nihil habet necessarium nisi perse- 
verantiam. Meminit pristinae voluptatis, scit, quid 
amiserit, quo delectata sit : ardentes diaboli sagittae 
ieiuniorum et vigiliarum frigore restinguendae sunt. 
Aut loquendum nobis est, ut vestiti sumus, aut 
vestiendum, ut loquimur. Quid aliud poUicemur et 
aliud ostendimus ? Lingua personat castitatem et 
totum corpus praefert inpudicitiam. 

8. Hoc quantum ad habitum pertinet et ornatum. 
Ceterum vidua, ' quae in deliciis est ' — non est meum, 
sed apostoli — ' vivens mortua est.' Quid sibi vult 

1 1 Timothy, v. 6. "1 Timothy, v. 6. 

240 



LETTER LIV 

live, so He hates the lukewarm and they inspire 
loathing. To whom more is forgiven, the same 
loveth more. 

The harlot in the Gospel found salvation, baptized 
in her own tears and ^viping the Lord's feet with 
the hair which had before lured many a lover. She 
wore no waving head-dress, no creaking shoes, nor 
did she darken her eyes with antimony : the more 
squalid she was, the more lovely she seemed. A\Tiat 
have rouge and white lead to do on a Christian 
woman's face? The one simulates the natural red 
of cheeks and lips, the other the whiteness of the 
face and neck. They are fires to inflame young 
men, stimulants of lustful desire, plain evidence of 
an unchaste mind. How can a woman weep for 
her sins when tears lay her skin bare and make 
furrows on her face ? Such adorning is not of the 
Lord, it is the mask of Antichrist. With what 
confidence can a woman lift to heaven features 
which her Creator cannot recognize ? It is in vain 
to make youth an excuse for all this, of to put in the 
plea of girlish folly. A widow who has no husband 
to please, and in the apostle's words is a ^vidow in 
deed, needs nothing but perseverance.^ She still 
remembers the pleasures of the past, she knows the 
deUghts that she has lost, and she must quench the 
fire of the devil's shafts with the cold streams of 
fast and vigil. Either we must speak as we dress, 
or dress as we speak. Why do we profess one thing 
and display another ? The tongue talks of chastity, 
but the whole body reveals incontinence. 

So much for dress and adornment. But a widow 
' that liveth in pleasure ' — the words are not mine, 
but the apostle's — ' is dead while she liveth.' ^ What 

241 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

hoc, quod ait : * vivens mortua est ' ? Vivere 
quidem videtur ignorantibus et non esse peccato 
mortua, sed Christo, quern secreta non fallunt, 
mortua est. * Anima,' enim, ' quae peccaverit, ipsa 
morietur. ' ' Quorundam hominum peccata manifesta 
sunt praecedentia ad iudicium, quosdam autem et 
subsequuntur. Similiter et facta bona manifesta 
sunt, et quae aliter se habent, abscondi non possunt.' 
Quod dicit, istius modi est : quidam tarn libere et 
palam peccant, ut, postquam eos videris, statim 
intellegas peccatores ; alios autem, qui callide 
occultant vitia sua, ex sequenti conversa tione 
cognoscimus. Similiter et bona apud alios in pro- 
patulo sunt, in aliis longo usu discimus. Quid ergo 
necesse est nos iactare pudicitiam, quae sine comiti- 
bus et adpendiculis suis, continentia et parcitate, 
fidem sui facere non potest ? Apostolus macerat 
corpus suum et animae subicit imperio, ne, quod aliis 
praecipit, ipse non servet : et adulescentula fervente 
cibis corpore de castitate secura est ? 

9. Neque vero haec dicens condemno cibos, ' quos 
Deus creavit ad utendum purn^^gratia^iun^actionej' 
sed iuvenibus et puellis incentiva esse adsero volup- 
tatum. Non Aetnaei ignes, non Vulcania tellus, 
non Vesevus et Olympus tantis ardoribus aestuant, 
ut iuveniles medullae vino plenae, dapibus inflam- 
matae. Avaritia calcatur a plerisque et cum mar- 
suppio deponitur ; maledicam linguam indictum 
emendat silentium ; cultus corporis et habitus 



1 Ezekiel, xviii. 20. 

2 1 Timothy, v. 24. 
* 1 Timothy, iv. 4. 

242 



LETTER LIV 

does it mean, ' is dead while she Uveth ' ? Why , to those 
who know not the truth she seems to be alive and not to 
be dead in sin, but to Christ from whom no secrets are 
hid she is a dead woman. ' For the soul that sinneth, 
it shall die.' ^ 'Some men's sins are manifest, going 
before unto judgment, and some men also they follow 
after. Likewise also good works are manifest, and 
they that are otherwise cannot be hid.' ^ The words 
mean this — some men sin with such lack of restraint 
and concealment that you know them at first sight 
to be sinners. But there are others who cunningly 
conceal their vices, and we only learn of them by 
subsequent intercourse. In the same way the good 
deeds of some men are openly displayed, in the case 
of others we only become acquainted \nth them 
after long intimacy. WTiy then must we make a 
boast of chastity, which cannot be regarded as 
genuine unless it is supported by its two handmaids 
and assistants, continence and frugality ? The 
apostle macerates his body and subjects it to the 
soul's control, lest he himself should fail to keep the 
precept he has given to others. How then can 
a young girl be confident of her chastity if her body 
is all on fire ^\^th rich food ? 

In saying this I do not condemn food * which God 
created to be enjoyed with thanksgiving,' ^ but I 
assert that for young men and girls some food is 
an incentive to sensuality. Neither Etna's fire, 
nor Vulcan's isle, nor Vesuvius and Olympus, seethe 
with such burning heat as does the youthful marrow 
when it is flushed with ^Wne and inflamed by feasting. 
Many men trample avarice underfoot and lay it 
down as easily as their purses. An enforced silence 
serves as corrective to a slanderous tongue. One 

243 
r2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

vestium unius horae spatio commutatur ; omnia alia 
peccata extrinsecus sunt, et, quod a foris est, facile 
abicitur: sola libido insita a Deo ob liberorum 
creationem, si fines suos egressa fuerit, redundat in 
vitium et quadam lege naturae in coitum gestit 
erumpere. Grandis ergo virtutis est et sollicitae 
diligentiae superare, quod natus sis in came, non 
carnaliter vivere, tecum pugnare cottidie et inclusum 
hostem Argi, ut fabulae ferunt, centum oculis 
observare. Hoc est, quod apostolus verbis aliis 
loquebatur : ' Omne peccatum, quod fecerit homo, 
extra corpus est; qui autem fornicatur, in corpus 
suum peccat.* Aiunt medici et qui de humanorum 
corporum scripsere naturis praecipueque Galenus in 
libris, quorum titulus est wepl vyitLvwv, puerorum 
et iuvenum ac perfectae aetatis virorum mulierumque 
corpora insito calore fervere et noxios esse his 
aetatibus cibos, qui calorem augeant, sanitatique 
conducere frigida quaeque in esu et potu sumere, 
sicut e contrario senibus, qui pituita laborent et fri- 
gore, calidos cibos et vetera vma prodesse. Unde 
et salvator : ' Adtendite,' inquit, * vobis, ne forte 
adgraventur corda vestra in crapula et ebrietate 
et curis huius vitae.' Et apostolus: ' Vino, in quo 
est luxuria.' Nee mirum hoc figulum sensisse de 
vasculo, quod ipse fabricatus est, cum etiam comicus 



1 Corinthians, vi. 18. ^ gt. Luke, xxi. 34. 

' Ephesians, v. 18. 

244 



LETTER LIV 

single hour can change a man's fashion of dress and 
outward appearance. All other sins are outside 
ourselves, and what is external can easily be cast 
away. Carnal desire alone, implanted in men by 
God for the procreation of children, if it oversteps 
its due limits, becomes a sin, and by a law of nature 
burns to force its way to carnal intercourse. It is 
a task for pre-eminent virtue and the most watchful 
care, seeing that you were born in the flesh, not 
to Uve the life of the flesh. You must fight against 
yourself every day and keep guard against the 
enemy within you with the hundred eyes of the 
fabled Argus. This is what the apostle said in 
other words : ' Every sin that a man doeth is ^vith- 
out the body ; but he that committeth fornication 
sinneth against his o^vn body.' ^ Physicians and 
those who have >vritten on the nature of the human 
frame, especially Galen in his treatise On Health, 
say that the bodies of young men and of full-grown 
men and women glow \vith an innate warmth, and 
that for persons of these ages all food is harmful 
which tends to increase that heat, while it is con- 
ducive to health for them to eat and drink anything 
that is cold. On the other hand they say that for 
old people who suffer from humoiurs and from chilli- 
ness, warm food and old wine are beneficial. Hence 
the Saviour says : ' Take heed to yourselves lest at 
any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting 
and drunkenness, and cares of this life.' - So too 
the apostle : ' Be not drunk with wine, wherein is 
excess.' ^ No wonder that the potter felt thus 
about the frail vessel which He had made,* seeing 

* Romans, ix. 21. ' Hath not the potter power over the clay, 
of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another 
unto diishonour ? ' 

245 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

cuius finis est humanos mores nosse atque describere, 
dixit : ' Sine Cerere et Libero friget Venus.' 

10. Primum igitur, si tamen stomachi firmitas 
patitur, donee puellares annos transeas, aquam in 
potum sume, quae natura frigidissima est, aut, si 
hoc inbecillitas prohibet, audi cum Timotheo : ' Vino 
modico utere propter stomachum et frequentes tuas 
infirmitates.' Deinde in ipsis cibis calida quaeque 
devita ; non solum de carnibus loquor, super quibus 
vas_el£ctionis profert sententiam : ' Bonum est vinum 
non bibere et carnem non manducare,' sed etiam in 
ipsis leguminibus iuflantia quaeque et gravia de- 
clinanda sunt — nihilque ita scias conducere Christianis 
adulescentibus ut esum holerum, unde et in alio 
loco : ' Qui infirmus est,' ait, ' holera manducet ' — 
ardorque corporum frigidioribus epulis temperandus 
est. Si autem tres pueri et Daniel leguminibus 
vescebantur, pueri erant, necdum ad sartiginem 
venerant in qua rex Babylonius senes iudices frixit. 
Nobis non corporum cultus, qui in illis — excepto 
privilegio gratiae Dei — ex huiusce modi cibis 
enituerat, sed animae vigor quaeritur, quae carnis 
infirmitate fit fortior. Inde est, quod nonnuUi vitam 
pudicam adpetentium in medio itinere corruunt, 
dum solam abstinentiam carnium putant et legu- 
minibus onerant stomachum, quae moderate parceque 
sumpta innoxia sunt. Et ut, quod sentio, loquar. 



^ Terence, Eunuchus, 732. 

2 1 Timothy, v. 23. 

^ Romans, xiv. 21. 

* Romans, xiv. 2. 
^ Daniel, i. 8. 

* There is a tradition that the elders who tempted 
Susannah were thus burned. 

246 



LETTER LIV 

that even the comic dramatist, whose aim is to 
know and to describe the ways of men, says : — 

' Venus grows cold if Ceres be not there 
And Bacchus with her.' ^ 

In the first place then, if your stomach is strong 
enough, until you pass out of girlhood drink only 
water, by nature the coolest of all beverages. If your 
health renders this impossible, listen to the advice 
given to Timothy : ' Use a little wine for thy stomach's 
sake and thine often infiraiities.' - Secondly, in 
the way of food avoid all heating dishes. I do 
not speak of meat only — although on it the chosen 
vessel deUvers this judgment : ' It is good neither 
to eat flesh nor to drink wine ' ^ — but ^^ith vegetables 
also anything that creates wind or lies heavy on the 
stomach should be rejected. You should know 
that nothing is so good for young Christians as a 
diet of herbs. So in another place Paul says : ' Let 
him who is weak eat herbs.' * By cold food the heat 
of the body should be tempered. Though Daniel and 
the three children lived on vegetables,^ they were 
only children and had not reached that frying 
pan in which the king of Babylon cooked the elders 
who were judges.® We do not seek for the physical 
strength which by a special privilege of God's grace 
they gained from this diet ; we aim rather at \igour 
of soul, which becomes stronger as the flesh grows 
weaker. This is the reason why some of those who 
aspire to a life of chastity fall midway on the road. 
They think that they need merely abstain from 
meat, and they load their stomach with vegetables 
which are only harmless when taken sparingly and 
in moderation. To give you my real opinion, I 

247 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

nihil sic inflammat corpora et titillat membra genitalia 
nisi indigestus cibus ructusque convulsus. Malo 
apud te, filia, verecundia parumper quam causa 
periclitari. Quidquid seminarium vo liiptat.iim est, 
venenum puto. Parcus cibus et sempeP^v^nter 
esuriens triduanis ieiuniis praeferatur, et multo 
melius est cottidie parum quam raro satis sumere. 
Pluvia ilia optima est, quae sensim descendit in 
terras ; subitus et nimius imber praeceps arva 
Siibv£r±it. 

IL Quando comedis, cogita, quod statim tibi 
orandum, ilico legendum sit, De scripturis Sanctis 
habeto fixum versuum numerum ; istud pensum 
domino tuo redde nee ante quieti membra concedas, 
quam calathum pectoris tui hoc subtegmine imple- 
veris. Post scripturas sanctas doctorum hominum 
tractatus lege, eorum dumtaxat, quorum fides nota 
est. Non necesse habes aurum in luto quaerere : 
multis margaritis unam redime margaritam. Sta 
iuxta Hieremiam in viis pluribus, ut ad illam viam, 
quae ad patrem ducit, pervenias. Amorem monilium 
atque gemmarum sericarumque vestium transfer ad 
scientiam scripturarum. Ingredere terram repro- 
missionis lacte et melle manantem, comede similam 
et oleum, vestire cum Joseph variis indumentis, 
perforentur aures tuae cum Hierusalem sermone 
Dei, ut pretiosa ex illis novarum seg^efum grana 
dependeant. Habes sanctum Exuperiuf probatae 
aetatis et fidei, qui te nipnitis suis frequenter 
instituat. 

^ Pensum, properly the weight of wool allotted to a servant 
to be made into yarn ; the day's task. 

^ Cf. Jeremiah, vi. 16. 

3 Cf. Ezekiel, xvi. 12. * Cf. p. 436, note 3. 

248 



LETTER LIV 

think that nothing so inflames the body and titillates 
the organs of generation as undigested food, and 
convulsive belching. With you, my daughter, I 
would rather risk offending your modesty than 
understate my case. Regard as poison anything 
that has within it the seeds of sensual pleasure. A 
frugal diet which leaves you always hungry is to be 
preferred to a three days' fast, and it is much better 
to go short every day than occasionally to satisfy 
your appetite to the full. That rain is best w^hich 
falls slowly to earth : a sudden and excessive shower 
which comes tumbUng down washes away the soil. 

When you are eating, remember that immediately 
afterwards you will have to pray and read. Take 
a fixed number of verses from the Holy Scripture 
and show them up as your task ^ to your Lord ; and do 
not lie down to rest until you have filled your heart's 
basket with this precious yarn. After the Holy 
Scriptures, read the treatises that have been written 
by learned men, provided, of course, that they are 
persons of known faith. You need not seek for 
gold amid the mire : Avith many pearls buy the one 
pearl of price. As Jeremiah - says, stand in more 
ways than one, so that you may come to the way 
that leads to the Father. Change your love of 
necklaces and jewels and silk dresses to a desire 
for scriptural knowledge. Enter the land of pro- 
mise that flows \vith milk and honey. Eat wheaten 
flour and oil, dress like Joseph in coats of many 
colours, let your ears, like Jerusalem's,^ be pierced 
by the word of God, so that the precious grains of 
new corn may hang from them. You have in the 
saintly Exuperius^.a man of tried years and faith, 
who can give you constant support with his advice. 

249 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

12. Fac tibi amicos de iniquo mammona, qui te 
recipiant in aeterna tabernacula. lUis tribue divitias 
tuas, qui non Phaside s aves, sed cibarium panem 
coemant, qui famem expellant, qui non augeant 
luxuriam. IntHlege super egenum et pauperem. 
' Omni petenti te da,' sed ' maxima dnnigsticis fidei ' : 
nudum vesti, esurientem ciba, aegrotantem visita ; 
quotienscumque manum extendis, Christum cogita, 
cave ne mendicante domino tuo alienas divitias 
augeas. 

13. luvenum fuge consortia. Comatulos, comptos 
atque lascivos domus tuae tecta non videant. Cantor 
pellatur ut noxius ; fidicinas et psaltrias et istius 
modi chorum diaboli quasi mortifera sirenarum 
carmina proturba ex aedibus tuis. Noli ad publicum 
subinde procedere et spadonum exercitu praeeunte 
viduarum circumferri libertate. Pessimae consue- 
tudinis est, cum fragilis sexus et inbecilla aetas suo 
arbitrio abutitur et putat licere, quod libet. ' Omnia ' 
quidem ' licent, sed non omnia expediunt.' Nee 
procurator calamistratus nee formosus conlactaneus 
nee candidulus et rubicundus adsecula adhaereant 
lateri tuo : interdum animus dominarum et ancil- 
larum habitu iudicatur. Sanctarum virginum et 
viduarum societatem adpete, et si sermocinandi cum 
viris incumbit necessitas, arbitros ne devites tantaque 
confabulandi fiducia sit, ut intrante alio nee paveas 
nee erubescas. Speculum mentis est facies et taciti 



1 St. Luke, vi. 30, and Galatians, vi. 10. 

2 1 Corinthians, vi. 12. 



250 



LETTER LIV 

Make to yourself friends of the mammon of 
unrighteousness that they may receive you into 
everlasting habitations. Give your wealth to those 
who purchase not pheasants but coarse bread, 
staying their hunger, not stimulating wantonness. 
Consider the poor and needy. ' Give to everyone 
that asketh of thee,' but ' especially unto them that 
are of the household of faith ' ;i clothe the naked, 
feed the hungry, visit the sick ; every time you hold 
out your hand, think of Christ ; beware lest, when 
your Lord asks alms, you increase other people's 
riches. 

Avoid the society of young men. Let your house ' 
never see beneath its roof wanton long-haired dan- 
dies. Repel a singer like the plague. Drive 
from your dwelling all women who live by playing 
and singing, the devil's choir whose songs are as 
deadly as those of the sirens. Do not claim a widow's 
liberty and appear in the streets with a host of 
eunuchs waiking before your chair. It is a very 
bad habit for weak young persons of the frailer sex 
to abuse their freedom from restraint, and to think 
that they are allowed to do anything they please. 
' All things are lawful but all things are not ex- 
pedient.' - Let no curled steward or handsome 
foster-brother or fair ruddy footman stand con- 
tinually by your side. Sometinies the character of 
the mistress is inferred from the dress of her maids. 
Seek the company of holy virgins and widows, and 
if you are obliged to talk with men, do not refuse 
to have other people present. Let your conversa- 
tion be so sure of itself that the entry of a third 
person will neither make you start nor blush. The 
face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without 

251 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

oculi cordis fatentur arcana. Vidimus nuper igno- 
miniosum per totum orientem volitasse : et aetas et 
cultus et habitus et incessus, indiscreta societas, 
exquisitae epulae, regius apparatus Neronis et Sarda- 
napalli nuptias loquebantur. Aliorum vulnus nostra 
sit cautio ; '•Eeatilente flagellato stultus sapientior 
erit,' 

Sanctus amor inpatientiam non habet; falsus 
rumor cite opprimitur et vita posterior iudicat de 
priori. Fieri quidem non potest, ut absque rnOTSu 
hominum vitae huius curricula quis pertranseat, 
malorumque solacium est bonos carpere, dum 
peccantium multitudine putant culpam minui pecca- 
torum ; sed tamen cito ignis stipulae conquiescit et 
exundans flamma deficientibus nutrimentis paulatim 
emoritur. Si anno praeterito fa ma ment ita est aut, 
si certe verum dixit, cessavit ^ vitium, cessabit et 
rumor. Haec dico, non quo de te sinistrum quid 
metuam, sed quo pietatis afFectu etiam, quae tuta 
sunt, pertimescam. O si videres sororem tuam et 
illud sacri oris eloquium coram audire contingeret, 
cerneres in parvo corpusculo ingentes animos, audires 
totam veteris et novi testamenti sujieHectil^rQ ex 
illius corde fervere ! leiunia pro ludo habet, ora- 
tionem pro deliciis. Tenet tympanum in exemplum 
Mariae et Pharaone submerso virginum choro 
praecinit : ' Cantemus domino : gloriose enim magni- 
ficatus est, equum et ascensorem deiecit in mare.' 
^ cesset : Hilberg. 



Proverbs, xix. 25. Vulgate. « d p_ 2,32, note 5. 

3 Exodus, XV. 21. 



252 



LETTER LIV 

speaking confess the secrets of the heart. I have 
lately seen a scandalous object flitting this way and 
that through the East. Her age, her style, her 
dress, her mien, the indiscriminate company she 
kept, and the regal pomp of her elaborate dinners, 
all proclaimed her a fitting bride for Nero or Sarda- 
napallus. Let us take warning from another's 
wound : * WTien he that causeth trouble is scourged 
the fool ^^^ll be %\'iser.' ^ 

A holy love is never impatient : a false rumour 
is quickly stifled, and the after Ufe passes judgment 
on that which has gone before. It is not possible, 
indeed, that any one should reach the end of life's 
race without suff"ering from the tooth of calumny : 
it is a consolation for the wicked to gird at the good, 
and they think that a multitude of sinners lessens the 
guilt of sin. But, nevertheless, a fire of straw soon 
dies down, and a spreading flame gradually expires 
if it has nothing to feed on. If last year's rumour 
was a lie, or if, though it was true, the sin has now 
ceased, then the scandal will cease also. I say this, 
not that I fear anything Avrong in yoiu* case, but 
because my fatherly love for you is so great that 
even safety makes me afraid. Oh, if you could see 
your sister ,2 and be allowed to listen to the eloquence 
of her holy lips, and behold the mighty spirit that 
dwells within her small body ! Oh, if you could 
hear the whole contents of the Old and New Testa- 
ment come bubbling from her heart ! Fasting is 
her sport, prayer her favourite pastime. Like 
Miriam after the drowning of Pharaoh, she takes 
up her timbrel and leads the Wrgin choir : ' Let us 
sing to the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously; the 
horse and his rider He hath thrown into the sea.' * She 

253 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

Has docet psaltrias Christo, has fidicianas erudit 
salvatori. Sic dies, sic nox ducitur et oleo ad lampa- 
das praeparato sponsi expectatur adventus. Imitare 
ergo et tu consanguineam tuam : habeat Roma, quod 
angustior urbe Romana possidet Bethleem. 

14. Habes opes, facile tibi est indigentibus victus 
subsidia ministrare. Quod luxuriae parabatur, virtus 
iusugoat ; nulla nuptias contemptura timeat eges- 
tatem. Redime virgines, quas in cubiculum salva- 
toris inducas, suscipe viduas, quas inter virginum 
lilia et martyrum rosas quasi quasdam violas misceas ; 
pro corona spinea, in qua mundi Christus delicfg, 
portavit, talia serta compone. Laetetur et a diuv et 
vir nobilissimus, pater tuus ; discat a filia, quod 
didicerat ab uxore. lam incanuit caput, tremunt 
genua, dentes cadunt et frontem obscenam rugis 
arat, vicina est mors in foribus, designatur rogus 
prope : velimus nolimus, senes sumus. Paret sibi 
viaticum, quos longo itinere necessarium est. Secum 
portet, quod invitus dimissurus est, immo praemittat 
in caelum, quod, ni caruerit, terra sumptura est. 

15. Solent adulescentulae viduae, quarum non- 
nullae ' abierunt retro Satanam, cum luxuriatae 
fuerint in Christo,' subantes dicere : ' Patrimoniolum 
meum cottidie perit, maiorum hereditas dissipatur, 
servus contumeliose locutus est, imperium ancilla 



1 At this time many Romans were being taken captive by 
invading barbarians and held to ransom. 

2 1 Timothy, v. 15, 11. 

254 



LETIER LIV 

teaches her companions to be music-girls for Christ, 
and trains them as lute-players for the Saviour. 
Thus she passes her days and nights, and with oil 
ready in her lamp awaits the coming of the Bride- 
groom. Take pattern then by your kinswoman. 
Let Rome have what Bethlehem, a smaller place 
than Rome, already possesses. 

You have money, and can easily supply food to 
those who want it. Let \-irtue take what was meant 
for extravagance : no woman who means to scorn 
marriage need fear poverty. Ransom ^ virgins and 
lead them into the Sa\-iour's chamber. Support 
widows and mingle them hke \iolets with the virgins' 
lihes and the martyrs' roses. These are the garlands 
you must make for Christ in place of the crown of 
thorns in which He bore the sins of the world. Let 
your noble father rejoice to help you ; let him learn 
from his daughter as he once learned from his wife. 
His hair is grey, his knees shake, his teeth are falUng 
out, his forehead is disfigured by WTinkles, death 
stands near at his door, and the pyre is being marked 
out for him close by. Whether we UkS it or not, 
we are old men now. Let him provide for himself 
the provision he needs for his long journey. Let 
him take with him that which otherwise he must 
reluctantly leave behind ; nay, let him send before 
him to heaven what, if he does not take care, will 
be appropriated by earth. 

Young widows, of whom some ' are already turned 
aside after Satan, when they have begun to wax 
wanton against Christ,' - in their lustful moments 
are wont to say : ' My little estate is wasting every 
day, the property I have inherited is being scattered, 
my footman has spoken insultingly to me, my maid 

255 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

neglexit. Quis procedet ad publicu m ? Quis 
respondebit pro agrorum tributis ? Parvulos meos 
quis erudiet ? Vernulas quis educabit ? ' Et banc — 
pro nefas ! — causam opponunt matrimonii, quae vel 
sola debuit nuptias inpedire. Superducit mater 
filiis non vitricum, sed hostem, non parentem, sed 
tyrannum. Inflammata libidine obliviscitur uteri 
sui, et inter parvulos suas miserias nescientes lugens 
dudum nova n^ta conpon itur. Quid obtendis 
patrimonium, quid superbiam servulorum ? Con- 
fitere turpitudinem. Nulla idcirco ducit maritum, 
ut cum marito non dormiat. Aut si certe libido non 
stimulat, quae tanta insania est in morem scortorum 
prostituere castitatem, ut augeantur divitiae, et 
propter rem vilem atque peritiu-am pudicitia, quae 
et pretiosa et aeterna est, polluatur ? Si habes 
liberos, nuptias quid requiris ? Si non habes, quare 
expertam non metuis sterilitatem et rem incertam 
certo praefers pudori ? Scribuntur tibi nunc sponsales 
tabulae, ut post paululum testamentum facere 
conpellaris. Simulabitur mariti infirmitas et, quod 
te morituram facere volet, ipse victurus faciet. Aut 
si evenerit, ut de secundo marito habeas filios, 
domestica pugna, intestinum proelium. Non licebit 
tibi amare liberos nee acquis aspicere oculis, quos 
genxiisti. Clam porriges cibos, invidebit mortuo, 
256 



LETTER LIV 

pays no attention to my orders. Who will appear 
for me in court ? Who will be responsible for my 
land-tax ? Who will educate my little children and 
bring up my house-slaves ? ' Shame on them ! 
They bring forward as a reason for marriage the 
very thing which should in itself render marriage 
impossible. A mother sets over her children not 
a stepfather but an enemy, not a parent but a tyrant. 
Inflamed by lustfulness she forgets her o\vn off- 
spring, and in the midst of the little ones who know 
nothing of their sad fate the lately weeping widow 
arrays herself afresh as a bride. Why these pre- 
texts of property and arrogant servants ? Confess 
your vileness. No woman marries with the idea 
of not sleeping with a husband. If you are not 
spurred on by lust, surely it is the height of madness 
to prostitute yourself like a harlot merely to increase 
your wealth, and for a paltry and passing gain to 
pollute that precious chastity which might endure 
for ever. If you have children, why do you want 
to marry ? If you have none, why do you not fear 
the barrenness you have already known ? Why do 
you put an uncertain gain before a certain loss of 
modesty ? A marriage settlement is made in your 
favour to-day, but soon you will be induced to make 
your ^\ill. Your husband will feign illness, and 
ynW do for you what he wants you to do for him : 
but he means to go on living, and you are destined 
for an early grave. Or if it should happen that you 
have sons by your second husband, domestic war- 
fare and intestine feuds will be the result. You 
will not be allowed to love your own children, or 
to look kindly on those to whom you gave birth. 
You will hand them their food secretly ; for he will 

257 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

et nisi oderis filios, adhuc eorum amare videberis 
patrem. Quodsi de priori uxore habens sobolem te 
domum introduxerit, etiam si clementissima fueris, 
omnes comoediae et mimographi et communes 
rhetorum loci in novercam saevissimam declamabunt. 
Si privignus languerit et eondoluerit caput, Jiifama- 
beris ut venefica. Si non dederis cibos, crudelis, jpit 
dederis, malefica diceris. Oro te, quid habent 
tantum boni secundae nuptiae, ut haec mala valeant 
conpensare ? 

16. Volumus scire, quales esse debeant viduae? 
Legamus evangelium secundum Lucam : ' Et erat,' 
inquit, ' Anna prophetissa, filia Phanuel de tribu 
Aser.' Anna interpretatur ' gratia,' Phanuel in 
lingua nostra resonat ' vultum Dei,' Aser vel in 
' beatitudinem ' vel in ' divitias * vertitur. Quia 
ergo ab adulescentia usque ad octoginta quattuor 
annos viduitatis onus sustinuerat et non recedebat 
de templo Dei diebus ac noctibus insistens ieiuniis et 
obsecrationibus, idcirco meruit gratiam spiritalem et 
nuncupatur filia vultus Dei et ata-vis beat.itudine 
(Jivitiisq«e-eensetur. Recordemur viduae Sareptenae, 
quae et suae et filiorum saluti Heliae praetulit famem 
et ipsa nocte moritura cum filio superstitem hospitem 
relinquebat malens vitam perdere quam elemosynam 
et in pugillo farris seminarium sibi messis dominicae 
preparavit. Eaiina seritur et olei capsaces nascitur. 

1 St. Luke, ii. 36. " 1 Kings, xvii. 10 ff. 

258 



LETTER LIV 

be jealous of your dead husband, and unless you 
hate your sons he will think you still in love with 
their father. If he, for his part, has issue by a 
former wife, when he brings you into his house, 
then, even though you have a heart of gold, you 
\vill be the cruel stepmother, against whom every 
comedy, every mime-^vriter, and every dealer in 
rhetorical commonplaces raises his voice. If your 
stepson falls sick or has a headache, you \\i\\ be 
mahgned as a poisoner. If you refuse him food, 
you >W11 be cruel ; if you give it, you >\ill be said 
to have be^vitched him. WTiat benefit, I pray you, 
can a second marriage confer sufficient to compensate 
for these disadvantages ? 

Do we wish to knoM' how widows ought to behave ? 
Let us read the Gospel according to Luke : * There 
was one Anna,' he says,' a prophetess, the daughter of 
Phanuel of the tribe of Aser.' ^ Anna means • grace,' 
Phanuel in our language is the ' face of God,' Aser 
is translated either as ' blessedness ' or ' wealth.' As 
then she had borne the burden of ^v^dowhood from 
her youth up to the age of fourscore and four years, 
and never left the temple day or night, giving herself 
to fasting and prayer, therefore she earned spiritual 
grace and is called daughter of the face of God, and 
in blessedness and wealth is reckoned with her 
ancestors. Let us remember the ^ndow of Zare- 
phath,- who considered the satisfaction of Elijah's 
hunger more important than her own and her chil- 
dren's lives. Though she thought that she and her 
son that very night would die, she meant her guest 
to survive, preferring to lose life rather than her 
name for charity. In her handful of meal she found 
the seed of the Lord's harvest. She sows her meal 

259 
s2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

In ludaea frumenti penuria— granum enim tritici 
ibi mortuum fuerat — et in gentium viduae olei 
fluenta manabant. Legimus ludith — si cui tamen 
placet volumen recipere — viduam confectsjn ieiuniis 
et habitu lugubri sorditatam, quae non lugebat 
mortuum virum, sed squalore corporis sponsi quaere- 
bat adventum. Video armatam gladio manum, 
cruentam dexteram, recognosco caput Holofernae 
de mediis hostibus reportatum. Vincit viros femina 
et castitas truncat libidinem habituque repente 
mutato ad victrices sordes redit omnibus saeculi 
cultibus mundiores. 

17. Quidam inperite et Debboram inter viduas 
numerant ducemque Barac arbitrantur Debborae 
filium, cum aliud scriptura commemoret. Nobis ad 
hoc nominabitur, quod prophetissa fuerit et in ordine 
iudicum supputetur. Et quia dicere poterat : ' Quam 
dulcia gutturi meo eloquia tua, super mel et favum 
ori meo,' apis nomen accepit scripturarum floribus 
pasta, Spiritus Sancti odore perfusa et dulces ambro- 
siae sucos prophetali ore conponej is. Noomin, quae 
nobiscum sonat -n-apaKeKXrjixevrj, quam interpretari 
possumus ' consolatam,' marito et liberis peregre 
mortuis pudicitiam reportavit in patriam et hoc 
sustentata viatico nurum Moabitidem tenuit, ut 
illud Esaiae vaticinium conplerentur : ' Emitte 
agnum, domine, dominatorem terrae, de petra 

1 Psalm cxix. 103. '^ Ruth, i. 6, 16. 

260 



LETTER LIV 

and, lo ! a cruse of oil appears. In Judaea there was 
a scarcity of com, for the grain of wheat had died ; 
but in the house of a heathen widow streams of oil 
gushed forth. We read in the book of Judith, if 
we may accept that record, of a widow spent ^^^th 
fasting and unkempt in mourner's dress, who was 
not so much grieving for her dead husband but in 
squalor awaiting the advent of the Bridegroom. 
I see her hand armed ^^ith a sword and stained with 
blood, I recognize the head of Holofemes carried 
in triumph from the midst of the enemy. A woman 
conquers men, chastity beheads lust, and then 
suddenly changing her dress she returns again to 
her \ictorious squalor, a squalor finer than all the 
pomp of this world. 

Some people ignorantly count Deborah among 
the widows, and think that Barak, the leader of the 
army, was her son. The Scripture gives a different 
account. I will mention her now because she was 
a prophetess and is reckoned as one of the judges, 
and also because she could say : ' How sweet are 
thy words unto my taste ! Yea, sweeter than honey 
to my mouth.' ^ Rightly was she called ' the bee,' 
for she fed on the flowers of the Scriptures, she was 
steeped in the fragrance of the Holy Spirit, and 
with prophetic lips she gathered the sweet juices 
of the nectar. Naomi, in our language -apaKeKXrj/xevr], 
' she who is consoled,' when her husband and children 
died in a foreign land, carried her chastity back to 
her native country, and supported by that pro- 
vision for her journey, kept with her the Moabite 
woman who was her son's wife ,2 that in her the 
prophecy of Isaiah might be fulfilled : ' Send out 
the lamb, O Lord, to rule over the land from 

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deserti.' Venio ad viduam de evangelio, viduam 
pauperculam, omni Israeelitico populo ditiorem, quae 
accipiens granum sinapis et mittens fermentum in 
farinae satis-tribus Patris et Filii confessionem Spiritus 
Sancti gratia temperavit et duo minuta misit in gazo- 
phj^lacium quidquid habere poterat in substantia sua 
universasque divitias in utroque fidei suae obtulit 
testamento. Haec sunt duo seraphin ter glori- 
ficantia Trinitatem et in thesauro ecclesiae condi ta, 
unde et fpr^ipf "<"'-ing^ueJnstrumenti ardens carbo 
conprehensus purgat labia peccatoris. 

18. Quid Vetera repetam et virtutes feminarum 
de libris proferam, cum possis multas tibi ante oculos 
proponere in urbe, qua vivis, quarum imitari exem- 
plum debeas ? Et ne videar adulatione per singulas 
currere, suffieit tibi sancta Marcella, quae respondens 
generi suo aliquid nobis de evangelio retulit. Anna 
septem annis a virginitate sua vixerat cum marito, 
ista septem mensibus ; ilia Christi expectabat 
adventum, ista tenet, quem ilia susceperat ; ilia 
vagientem canebat ; ista praedicat triumphantem ; 
ilia loquebatur de eo omnibus, qui expectabant 
redemptionem Hierusalem, haec cum redemptis 
gentibus clamitat : ' Frater non .te dimit , redimet 
homo,' et de alio psalmo : ' Homo natus est in ea et 
ipse fundavit eam altissimus.' Scio me ante hoc 



^ Isaiah, xvi. 1. ^ Isaiah, vi. 2, 3. 

* Psalm xlix. 7. * Psalm Ixxxvii. 5. 



262 



LETTER LIV 

the rock of the desert.' ^ I come now to the 
widow in the Gospel, that poor humble widow 
who was richer than all the people of Israel. She 
had but a grain of mustard seed, but she put her 
leaven into three measures of flour, and tempering 
her confession of the Father and Son with the grace 
of the Holy Spirit, she cast her two mites into the 
treasury. AH her substance and her entire wealth 
she offered in the double testament of her faith. 
These are the two seraphim which glorify the Trinity 
AWth triple song, and are stored among the treasures 
of the Church.- Hence, also, the double pincers 
wherewith the hve coal is gripped to purge the 
sinner's lips. 

But why should I go back to ancient times and 
quote instances of female \irtue from books ? Before 
your own eyes in Rome, where you are living now, 
vou have many women whom you might well choose 
for your model. I \vill not take them indi\idually 
lest I should seem to flatter : you may be content 
with one, the saintly Marcella, who while she main- 
tains the glory of her family has given us an example 
of the Gospel hfe. Anna hved with a husband seven 
years from her virginity ; Marcella lived seven 
months. Anna looked for the coming of Christ ; 
Marcella holds fast to the Lord whom Anna welcomed. 
Anna sang of Him, when He was still a puling in- 
fant ; Marcella proclaims His triumph. Anna spoke 
of Him to all those who were awaiting the redemp- 
tion of Jerusalem ; Marcella cries aloud with the 
nations of the redeemed : ' A brother redeemeth 
not, yet a man shall redeem,' ^ and from another 
psalm : * A man was bom in her and the Highest 
Himself hath established her. ' * About two years ago 

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ferme biennium edidisse libros contra lovinianum, 
quibus venientes e contrario quaestiones . ubi apostolus 
concedit secunda matrimonia, scripturarum aucto- 
ritate contrivi. Et non necesse est eadem ex 
integro scribere, cum possis inde, quae scripta sunt, 
mutuari. Hoc tantum, ne modum egrediar epistulae, 
admonitam volo : cogita te cottidie esse morituram, 
et numquam de secundis nuptiis cogitabis. 



LX 

Ad Heliodorum Epitaphium Nepotiani 

L Grandes materias ingenia parva non sufferunt 
et in ipso conatu ultra vires ausa succumbunt; 
quantoque mains fuerit, quod dicendum est, tanto 
magis obruitur, qui magnitudinem rerum verbis non 
potest explicare. Nepotianus meus, tuus, noster, 
immo Christi, et quia Christi, idcirco plus noster, 
reliquit senes et desiderii sui iaculo vulneratos 
intolerabili dolore confecit. Quem heredem puta- 
vimus, funus tenemus. Cui iam meum sudabit 
ingenium ? Cui litterulae placere gestient ? Ubi est 
ille (pyoSiWKTf]^ noster et cygneo canore vox dulcior ? 
Stupet animus, manus tremit, caligant oculi, lingua 
balbutit. Quidquid dixero, quia ille non audiet, 

^ At one time a monk, later an opponent of Christian 
asceticism. Pammachius sent a copy of his work to Jerome 
at Bethlehem and Jerome's answer to it was written in 393. 

264 



LETTER LIV AND LETTER LX 

I know that I published a treatise against Jovinian,^ 
in which I refuted by the authority of the Scriptures 
the objections based on the apostle's concession 
of second marriages. It is unnecessary to repeat 
my arguments afresh, for you can borrow them 
from that book. That I may not exceed the limits 
of a letter, I will give you this final piece of advice. 
Think every day that you must die, and then you 
will never think of a second marriage. 



LETTER LX 

To Heliodorus 

A Letter of Consolation for the death of Nepotianus 

Written A.D. 396 

Small minds cannot deal adequately with great 
subjects ; if they venture beyond their strength 
they fail in the attempt ; and the greater the theme, 
the more completely is he overwhelmed who cannot 
find words to express its grandeur. Nepotian who 
was mine and yours and ours — nay rather, who was 
Christ's and because Christ's therefore the more 
ours — has left us in our old age overwhelmed -vnth 
a grief that is past bearing, our hearts all sore with 
longing for him still. We thought of him as our 
heir, but now we only have his dead body. For 
whom now shall my mind exert itself? WTiom shall 
my poor writings strive to please ? WTiere is he, 
the inspirer of my labours, whose voice was sweeter 
than a swan's song? My heart is numbed, my 
hand trembles, my eyes are misty, my tongue stam- 
mers. All that I say seems voiceless, for he no 

265 



SELECT LEITERS OF ST. JEROME 

mutum videtur. Stilus ipse quasi sentiens et cera 
subtristior vel rubigine vel situ obducitur. Quo- 
tienscumque nitor in verba prorumpere et super 
tumulum eius epitaphii huius flores spargere, totiens 
conplentur oculi et renovate dolore totus in funere 
sum. Moris quondam fuit, ut super cadavera de- 
functorum in contione pro rostris laudes liberi 
dicerent et instar lugubrium carminum ad fletus et 
gemitus audientium pectora concitarent : en rerum 
in nobis ordo mutatus est et in calamitatem nostram 
perdidit sua iura natura : quod exhibere senibus 
iuvenis debuit, hoc iuveni exhibemus senes. 

2. Quid igitur faciam ? lungam tecum lacrimis ? 
Sed apostolus prohibet Christianorum mortuos 
dormientes vocans et dominus in evangelio : ' Non 
est,' inquit, ' mortua puella, sed dormit.' Lazarus 
quoque, quia dormierat, suscitatus est. Laeter et 
gaudeam, quod ' raptus sit, ne malitia inmutaret 
mentem eius,' quia placeret Deo anima illius ? Sed 
invito et repugnanti per genas lacrimae fluunt et 
inter praecepta virtutum resurrectionisque spem 
credulam mentem desiderii frangit afFectus. O mors, 
quae fratres dividis et amore sociatos crudelis ac 
dura dissocias ! ' Adduxit urentem ventum dominus 
de deserto ascendentem, qui siccavit venas tuas et 
desolavit fontem tuum.' Devorasti quidem lonam, 

^ Cf. Virgil, Aeneid, V. 79, purpureosque iacit flores (on the 
tomb of Anchises). 

2 Thessalonians, iv. 13. » St. Mark, v. 39. 

* Wisdom, iv. 11. * Hosea, xiii. 15. 

266 



LETTER LX 

longer hears." My very pen is rusty as though it 
felt his loss, my wax tablet looks dull and is covered 
over with moald. WTienever I try to give vent to 
speech and to scatter the flowers ^ of this funeral 
panegyric on his tomb, my eyes fill with tears, my 
pain begins again to rankle, and I can think of nothing 
but his death. It was the ancient custom for chil- 
dren over the dead bodies of their parents to recite 
their praises on the platform of a pubhc meeting, 
and as though by the singing of dirges to stir their 
audience to sobs and lamentations. Behold, with 
us the order of things is changed, and nature has 
lost her rights in bringing this disaster upon us. 
What the young man should have done for his elders, 
we his elders are doing now for him. 

\Miat shall I do then? Shall I join my tears to 
yours? The apostle forbids, for he calls dead Chris- 
tians 'them which are asleep,' - and the Lord in the 
Gospel says : ' The damsel is not dead but sleepeth.' ^ 
Lazarus also, inasmuch as he had but fallen asleep, 
was raised back to hfe. Shall I rather rejoice and 
be glad, that ' speedily he was taken away lest that 
wickedness should alter his understanding,' * for his 
soul was pleasing to the Lord ? Nay, though I struggle 
and try to fight against them, the tears still run 
down my cheeks, and in spite of \'irtue's teaching 
and our hope of the resurrection a passion of regret 
is breaking my fond heart. O death that partest 
brothers and dost unknit the close bonds of love, 
how cruel art thou and how stern ! ' The Lord hath 
fetched a burning ^^ind that cometh up from the 
wilderness : which hath dried thy veins and hath 
made thy fountain desolate.'^ Thou didst swallow 
our Jonah, O death, but even in thy belly He 

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sed et in utero tuo vivus fuit. Portfsti quasi mor- 
tuum, ut tempestas mundi conquiesc iret et Nineve 
nostra illius praeconio salvaretur. Ills, ille te vicit, 
ille iugulavit fugitivus propheta, qui reliquit domum 
suam, dedit dilectam animam suam in manus quae- 
rentium earn. Qui per Osee quondam tibi rigidus 
minabatur : ' Ero mors tua, o mors ; ero morsus tuus, 
inferne,' illius morte tu mortua es, illius morte nos 
vivimus. Devorasti et devorata es, dumque adsumpti 
corporis sollieitaris inlecebra et avidis faucibus 
praedam putas, interiora tua adunco dente confossa 
sunt. 

3. Gratias tibi, Christe salvator, tua agimus 
creatura, quod tam potentem adversarium nostrum, 
dum occideris, occidisti. Quis ante miserior homine, 
qui aeterno mortis terrore prostratus vivendi sensum 
ad hoc tantum acceperat, ut periret? ' Regnavit,' 
enim, ' mors ab Adam usque ad Moysen etiam super 
eos, qui non peccaverunt in similitudinem prae- 
varicationis Adam.' Si Abraham, Isaac et lacob in 
inferno, quis in caelorum regno ? Si amici tui sub 
poena offendentis Adam et, qui non peccaverant, 
alienis peccatis tenebantur obnoxii, quid de his 
credendum est, qui dixerunt in cordibus suis : ' non 
est Deus,' qui ' corrupti et abominabiles facti sunt in 
voluntatibus suis,' qui ' declinaverunt, simul inutiles 
facti sunt ; non est, qui faciat bonum, non est usque 
ad unum ' ? Quodsi Lazarus videtur in sinu Abraham 
locoque refrigerii, quid simile infernus et regna 



1 Hosea, xiii. 14. ^ Romans, v. 14. 

3 Psalm xiv. 1. * Psalm xiv. 3. 



268 



LETTER LX 

lived. Thou didst carry Him as one dead, that the 
storms of this world might be appeased and our 
Nineveh saved by His preaching. He, He was thy 
conqueror. He it was who slew thee, the fugitive 
prophet who left His home, gave up His inheritance, 
and surrendered His dear life into the hands of those 
that sought it. He it was who once by the mouth 
of Hosea uttered against thee the stem threat: 
' O death, I vrill be thy death ; O grave, I will be thy 
destruction.' ^ By His death thou art dead ; by His 
death we Uve. Thou hast swallowed and thou art 
swallowed up, and while thou wert tempted by the 
lure of the body they had seized and thought it a 
prey for thy greedy jaws, lo ! thy inward parts are 
pierced with the hook's car\-ed teeth. 

We Thy creatures render thanks to Thee, O Saviour 
Christ, for that whilst Thou wert slain Thou didst 
slay our so mighty adversary. Before Thy coming 
was there anything more miserable than man, who 
cowering in eternal fear of death had but received 
the sense of life that he might perish ? ' Death 
reigned from Adam to Moses even over them that 
had not sinned after the simiUtude of Adam's trans- 
gression.' - If Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob be in 
the tomb, who can be in the kingdom of heaven? 
If thy friends who had not sinned were for the sins 
of another held liable to the punishment of offending 
Adam, what must be beUeved of those who said 
in their hearts : * There is no God,' ^ men ' corrupt 
and abominable in their self-will, who are gone out of 
the way, they are become unprofitable ; there is none 
that doeth good, no, not one ' ? * Even if Lazarus is 
seen in Abraham's bosom and in a place of refresh- 
ment, what Ukeness can there be between the lower 

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caelorum? Ante Christum Abraham apud inferos; 
post Christum latro in paradiso. Et idcirco in 
resurrectione eius multa dormientium corpora sur- 
rexerunt et visa sunt in caelesti Hierusalem. 
Tuncque conpletum est illud eloquium : ' Surge, qui 
dormis, et elevare et inluminabit te Christus.' 
lohannes Baptista in heremo personat : ' Paeni- 
tentiam agite ; adpropinquavit enim regnum cae- 
lorum.' A diebus enim lohannis Baptistae regnum 
caelorum vim passum est et violenti diripuerunt 
illud. Flamma ilia rumphea, custos paradisi, et 
praesidentia foribus cherubin Christi restincta et 
reserata sunt sanguine. Nee mirum hoc nobis in 
resurrectione promitti, cum omnes, qui in carne non 
secundum carnem vivimus, municipatum habeamus 
in caelo et hie adhuc positis dicatur in terra : ' Regnum 
Dei intra vos est.' 

4. Adde quod ante resurrectionem Christi ' notus ' 
tantum erat ' in ludaea Deus, in Israhel magnum 
nomen eius,' et ipsi, qui noverant eum, tamen ad 
inferos trahebantur. Ubi tunc totius orbis homines 
ab India usque ad Britanniam, a rigida septentrionis 
plaga usque ad fervores Atlantici oceani, tam innu- 
merabiles populi et tantarum gentium multitudines 
' quam variae linguis, habitu tam vestis et armis ' ? 
Piscium ritu ac lucustarum et velut muscae et culices 
conterebantur ; absque notitia enim creatoris sui 
omnis homo pecus est. Nunc vero passionem 
Christi et resurrectionem eius cunctarum gentium 



1 Ephesians, v. 14. 2 g^. Matthew, iii. 2. 

^ St. Luke, xvii. 21. * Psalm Ixxvi. 1. 

5 Virgil, Aeneid, VIII. 723. 

270 , 



LETTER LX 

regions and the kingdom of heaven ? Before Christ 
Abraham was in the ground beneath ; after Christ 
the robber is in Paradise. And therefore at His 
resurrection many bodies of those that slept arose 
and were seen in the heavenly Jerusalem. Then was 
fulfilled the saying : ' Awake thou that sleepest, 
and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee 
light.' ^ John the Baptist cries in the desert: ' Re- 
pent ve ; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.' * 
For from the days of John the Baptist the kingdom 
of heaven suffered \iolence and the violent took 
it by force. The flaming sword that guarded Para- 
dise, and the cherubim that kept its doors, were 
alike quenched and unloosed by the blood of Christ. 
Nor is it surprising that this is promised us at the 
resurrection, seeing that all of us, who now in the 
flesh live not after the manner of the flesh, have our 
citizenship in heaven, and while we are still here 
on earth we are told ' the kingdom of heaven is 
within you. ' ^ 

Moreover, before the resurrection of Christ God 
was only ' known in Judah and his name was great 
in Israel,' ■* and even those who knew Him were still 
dragged down to the nether world. WTiere at that 
time were the inhabitants of the whole world from 
India to Britain, from the ice-bound northern zone 
to the burning heat of the Atlantic Ocean ? \Miere 
were its countless peoples, its thronging tribes 

' In dress and arms as varied as in speech ' .' ^ 

They were but packed together like fishes and 
locusts, flies and gnats ; for without knowledge of 
his Creator every man is but a brute. But to-day 
the voices and the writings of all nations proclaim 

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voces et litterae sonant. Taceo de Hebraeis, Graecis 
et Latinis, quas nationes fidei suae in crucis titulo 
dominus dedicavit. Immortalem animam et post 
dissolutionem corporis subsistentem, quod Pytha- 
goras somniavit, Democritus non credidit, in consola- 
tionem damnationis suae Socrates disputavit in 
carcere, Indus, Persa, Gothus, Aegyptius philoso- 
phantur. Bessorum feritas et pellitorum turba 
populorum, qui mortuorum quondam inferiis homines 
immolabant, stridorem suum in dulce crucis fregerunt 
melos et totius mundi una vox Christus est. 

5. Quid agimus, anima? Quo nos vertimus? 
Quid primum adsumimus? Quid tacemus? Exci- 
derunt tibi praecepta rhetorum et occupata luctu, 
oppressa lacrimis, praepedita singultibus dicendi 
ordinem non tenes ! Ubi illud ab infantia studium 
htterarum et Anaxagorae ac Telamonis semper 
laudata sententia : ' Sciebam me genuisse morta- 
lem ' ? Legimus Crantorem, cuius volumen ad 
confovendum dolorem suum secutus est Cicero, 
Platonis, Diogenis, CUtomachi, Carneadis, Posidonii 
ad sedandos luctus opuscula percurrimus, qui diversis 
aetatibus diversorum lamenta vel hbris vel epistulis 
minuere sunt conati, ut, etiamsi nostrum areret 
ingenium, de illorum posset fontibus inrigari : pro- 
ponunt innumerabiles viros et maxime Periclen et 
Xenophontem Socraticum, quorum alter amissis 

^ A Thracian tribe. 

272 



LETTER LX 

the passion and the resurrection of Christ. I say 
nothing of the Hebrews, the Greeks, and the Latins, 
peoples whom the Lord dedicated to His faith by 
the inscription on His cross. That immortaUty of 
the soul, and its existence after the dissolution of the 
body, which Pythagoras dreamed, Democritus would 
not believe, and Socrates discussed in prison to 
console himself for his conviction, that is now the 
common philosophy of Indian and Persian, Egyptian 
and Goth. The savage Bessians ^ and their host of 
skin-clad tribes, who used to offer human sacrifice to 
the dead, have now dissolved their rough discord 
into the sweet music of the Cross, and the whole 
world with one voice cries out, ' Christ.' 

What shall we do, O my soul ? Whither shall we 
turn ? What theme shall we choose first ? What 
shall we omit? Have you forgotten the precepts 
of the rhetoricians, and are you so preoccupied with 
grief, oppressed with tears, and hindered by sobs 
that you cannot keep to any ordered narrative ? 
WTiere now is that love of hterature which you have 
cherished from childhood ? Where is the saying 
of Anaxagoras and Telamon which you always used 
to praise : ' I knew that I was born a mortal ' ? I 
have read Crantor, whose treatise written to com- 
fort his own grief Cicero imitated. I have perused 
those minor works of Plato, Diogenes, Clitomachus, 
Cameades, and Posidonius, in which by book or 
letter they have tried at different times to lessen 
the sorrow of various persons and to console their 
grief. Therefore, even if my own wits were dry, 
I could water them from these fountains. They 
set before us men without number as examples, 
and particularly Pericles and Socrates' pupil Xeno- 

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duobus filiis coronatus in contione disseruit, alter, 
cum sacrificans filium in bello audisset occisum, 
deposuisse coronam dicitur et eandem capiti repo- 
suisse, postquam fortiter in acie dimicantem repperit 
concidisse. Quid memorem Romanos duces, quorum 
virtutibus quasi quibusdam stellis Latinae micant 
historiae ? Pulvillus Capitolium dedicans mortuum, 
ut nuntiabatur, subito filium se iussit absente 
sepeliri ; Lucius Paulus septem diebus inter duorum 
exequias filiorum triumphans urbem ingressus est. 
Praetermitto Maximos, Catones, Gallos, Pisones, 
Brutos, Scaevolas, Metellos, Scauros, Marios, Crassos, 
Marcellos atque Aufidios, quorum non minor in luctu 
quam in bellis virtus fuit et quorum orbitates in 
Consolationis libro Tullius explicavit, ne videar 
aliena potius quam nostra quaesisse ; quamquam et 
haec in suggilationem nostri breviter dicta sint, si 
non praestet fides, quod exhibuit infidelitas. 

6. Igitur ad nostra veniamus. Non plangam cum 
lacob et David filios in lege morientes, sed cum 
Christo in evangelio suscipiam resurgentes. ludae- 
orum luctus Christianorum gaudium est. ' Ad 
vesperum demorabitur fletus et ad matutinum 
laetitia.' ' Nox praecessit, dies autem adpropin- 
quavit.' Unde et Moyses moriens plangitur, lesus 
absque funere et lacrimis in monte sepelitur. Quid- 
quid de scripturis super lamentatione dici potest, in 

^ Psalm XXX. 5. - Romans, xiii. 12. 

274 



LETTER LX 

phon. The first, after the loss of his two sons, put 
on a garland and addressed a pubUc meeting. The 
second was offering sacrifice when news came that 
his son had been killed in battle ; thereupon, we are 
told, he took off his sacrificial garland, but replaced it 
when he heard that he had fallen fighting bravely. 
Why should I speak of those Roman leaders whose 
Wrtues gUtter like stars in the pages of Latin history ? 
Pulvillus was dedicating the Capitol when he was 
told that his son had suddenly died. ' Bury him,' 
he said, ' without me.' Lucius Paulus in the week 
that intervened between the funerals of his two 
sons entered Rome in triumphal procession. I pass 
over the Maximi, the Catos, the Galh, the Pisos, 
the Bruti, the Scaevolas, the MetelU, the Scauri, 
the Marii, the Crassi, the MarcelU and the Aufidii, 
men whose courage was as conspicuous in their sorrows 
as in their wars. Cicero has dealt ^Wth their bereave- 
ments in his book On Consolation, and of them I will 
say no more, lest I should seem to seek examples 
from strangers rather than from our own community. 
Not but what even this brief reference might serve 
as a mortification to us, if faith were not to give us 
what unbelief afforded them. 

Let us come then to our people. I will not weep 
with Jacob and Da\-id for sons who died under the 
Law, but with Christ I >viH welcome those who rise 
again under the Gospel dispensation. The Jew's 
mourning is the Christian's joy. ' Weeping may 
endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning.' ^ 
' The night is far spent, the day is at hand.' ^ Where- 
fore even Moses is lamented when he dies ; 
Joshua is buried on a mountain-top >Wthout funeral 
or tears. All that can be drawn from the Scriptures 

275 
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SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

eo libro, quo Paulam Romae consolati sumus, breviter 
explicavimus. Nunc nobis per aliam semitam ad 
eundem locum perveniendum est, ne videamur 
praeterita et obsoleta quondam calcare vestigia. 

7. Scimus quidem Nepotianum nostrum esse cum 
Christo et sanctorum mixtum choris, quod nobiscum 
eminus rimabatur in terris et aestimatione quaerebat, 
ibi videntem comminus dicere : ' Sicut audivimus, 
ita et vidimus in civitate domini virtutum, in civitate 
Dei nostri,' sed desiderium absentiae eius ferre non 
possumus, non illius, sed nostram vicem dolentes. 
Quanto ille felicior, tanto nos amplius in dolore, quod 
tali caremus bono. Flebant et sorores Lazarum, 
quem resurrecturum noverant, et, ut veros hominis 
exprimeret afFectus, ipse salvator ploravit, quem 
suscitaturus erat. Apostolus quoque eius, qui 
dixerat : ' Cupio dissolvi et esse cum Christo ' et 
alibi : * Mihi vivere Christus est et mori lucrum,' 
gratias agit, quod Epaphras de mortis sibi vicinia 
redditus sit, ne haberet tristitiam super tristitiam, 
non incredulitatis metu, sed desiderio caritatis. 
Quanto magis tu, et avunculus et episcopus, hoc est 
in carne et in spiritu pater, aves viscera tua et quasi 
a te divulsa suspiras ! Sed obsecro, ut modum adhi- 
beas in dolore memor illius sententiae : ' Ne quid 
nimis ' obligatoque parumper vulnere audias laudes 
eius, cuius semper virtute laetatus es, nee doleas. 



^ Psalm xlviii. 8. ^ Philippians, 1. 23. 

* Philippians, i. 21. * The Greek proverb firjbev dyav. 



276 



LETTER LX 

on the subject of lamentation I have briefly set out 
in the letter of consolation which I \\Tote to Paula 
at Rome. Now I must traverse another path to 
arrive at the same goal, for I would not have people 
see me treading again an old and used-up track. 

We know, indeed, that our dear Nepotian is with 
Christ, and that he has joined the choirs of the saints. 
We know that what here ^^•ith us on earth he groped 
after at a distance and sought by guess-work, there 
he sees face to face and can say : ' As we have 
heard so we have seen in the city of the Lord of 
hosts, in the city of our God.' ^ But we cannot 
bear our regret at his absence, and we grieve not 
on his account but for ourselves. The greater his 
happiness, the deeper our pain in lacking the blessings 
that he enjoys. The sisters of Lazarus wept for 
their brother, although they knew that he would 
rise again, and the Saviour Himself, to show that 
He possessed true human feelings, mourned for the 
man He was going to raise. His apostle also who 
said : ' I desire to depart and be ■with Christ,' ^ 
and in another place : ' To me to hve in Christ and 
to die is gain,' ^ thanks God that Epaphras has been 
given back to him when he was nigh to death, that 
he might not have sorrow upon sorrow. His words 
were spoken not in unbehe\ing fear but in loving 
regret, and how much more keenly must you who 
were both uncle and bishop, a father both in the 
flesh and the spirit, deplore a death that meant the 
rending asunder of your own body. I beg you, 
however, to set a limit to your grief and to remember 
the saying: * Nothing too much.'* Bind up your 
wound for a little while, and listen to the praises of 
him in whose virtue you always deUghted. Do not 

277 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

quod talem amiseris, sed gaudeas, quod talera 
habueris, et sicut hi, qui in brevi tabella terrarum 
situs pingunt, ita in parvo isto volumine cernas 
adumbrata, non expressa signa virtutum, suscipias- 
que a nobis non vires, sed voluntatem. 

8. Praecepta sunt rhetorum, ut maiores eius, qui 
laudandus est, et eorum altius gesta repetantur 
sieque ad ipsum per gradus sermo perveniat, quo 
videlicet avitis paternisque virtutibus inlustrior fiat 
et aut non degenerasse a bonis aut mediocres ipse 
ornasse videatur. Ego carnis bona, quae semper et 
ipse contempsit, in animae laudibus non requiram 
nee me iactabo de genere, id est de alienis bonis, cum 
et Abraham et Isaac, sancti viri, Ismahelem et Esau 
peccatores genuerint et a regione lephte in catalogo 
iustorum apostoH voce numeratus de meretrice sit 
natus. ' Anima,' inquit, ' quae peccaverit, ipsa 
morietur ' ; ergo et, quae non peccaverit, ipsa vivet. 
Nee virtutes nee vitia parentum hberis inputantur; 
ab eo tempore censemur, ex quo in Christo renasci- 
mur. Paulus, persecutor ecclesiae et mane lupus 
rapax Beniamin, ad vesperam dedit escam Ananiae 
ovi submittens caput. Igitur et Nepotianus noster 
quasi infantulus vagiens et rudis puer subito nobis 
de lordane nascatur. 



^ Ezekiel, xviii. 4. 

2 Cf. p. 158, note 4. 

3 Who baptized Paul, cf. Acts, ix. 10 ff. 

278 



LETTER LX 

grieve that you have lost such a paragon, but rather 
rejoice that he once was yours. As men draw a map 
of the world on one small tablet, so in this little 
scroll of mine you may see his virtues, not indeed 
fully delineated but sketched in outline, and will 
recognize that my will is good even if my strength 
be lacking. 

The rhetoricians' rule is that you should go back 
to the ancestors of the man you have to praise, and 
first recount their glorious deeds. Then gradually 
you Mill come to your hero, making him the more 
illustrious by the virtues of his forefathers, and 
sho^ving either that he has not degenerated from a 
worthy stock or that he has brought honour to 
mediocrity. I for my part in praising Nepotian's 
soul shall not trouble about the fleshly advantages 
which he himself always despised, nor shall I boast 
of his family, that is, of other people's merits. Even 
such holy men as Abraham and Isaac were the 
fathers of sinners like Ishmael and Esau, while 
Jephthah, on the other hand, who is reckoned by 
the apostle in the roll of the righteous, was the son 
of a harlot. The Scriptiu-e says : ' The soul that 
sinneth, it shall die.'^ Therefore, also, the soul 
that hath not sinned shall hve. Neither the virtues 
nor the \ices of parents are set to the children's 
account. That reckoning begins yriih the hour 
when we are born again in Christ. Paul, the perse- 
cutor of the Church, who in the morning was 
Benjamin,^ a ravening wolf, in the evening bowed 
his head and gave food to the sheep Ananias.^ We 
then also should think of our dear Nepotian as a 
crying babe or as an innocent child fresh born to us 
from the waters of Jordan. 

279 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

9. Alius forsitan scriberet, quod ob salutem illius 
orientem heremumque dimiseris et me, carissimum 
sodalem tuurn, redeundi spe lactaveris, ut primum, 
si fieri posset, sororem cum parvulo viduam, dein, si 
consilium ilia respueret, saltem nepotem dulcissimum 
conservares. Hie est enim ille, de quo tibi quondam 
vaticinatus sum : ' Licet parvulus ex collo pendeat 
nepos.' Referret, inquam, alius, quod in palatii 
militia sub chlamyde et candenti lino corpus eius 
cilicio tritum sit, quod stans ante saeculi potestates 
lurida ieiuniis ora portaverit, quod adhuc sub alterius 
indumentis alteri militant et ad hoc habuerit cingu- 
lum, ut viduis, pupillis, oppressis, miseris subveniret : 
mihi non placent dilationes istae inperfectae servitutis 
Dei et centurionem Cornelium, ut lego iustum, 
statim audio baptizatum, 

10. Verumtamen velut incunabula quaedam nas- 
centis fidei conprobemus, ut, qui sub alienis signis 
devotus miles fuit, donandus laurea sit, postquam suo 
regi coeperit militare. Balteo posito habituque mu- 
tato, quidquid castrensis peculii fuit, in pauperes 
erogavit. Legerat enim : ' Qui vult perfectus esse, 
vendat omnia, quae habet, et det pauperibus et 
sequatur me,' et iterum : ' Non potestis duobus 
dominis servire, Deo et mammonae.* Excepta vili 
tunica et operimento pari, quod tecto tantum corpore 
frigus excluderet, nihil sibi amplius reservavit. 
Cultus ipse provinciae morem sequens nee munditiis 



1 Cf. Letter XIV, p. 31. 

2 St. Matthew, xix. 21. ^ gt. Matthew, vi. 24. 



280 



LETTER LX 

Another might perhaps describe how for his 
salvation you left the East and the desert, and how 
you fed me, your dearest comrade, with hopes of 
your return ; desiring in the first place, if it were 
possible, to save your widowed sister and her little 
son, or, if she rejected your counsels, at least to 
preserve your dear little nephew. He is the child 
of whom I once used the prophetic words, * though 
your Uttle nephew cling to your neck.' ^ Another, 
I repeat, might tell how, while he was a soldier at 
court, beneath his military cloak and white Unen 
tunic his skin was chafed by sackcloth ; how, while 
he stood before the powers of this world, his Ups 
were pale with fasting ; how, while he wore one 
master's uniform, he served another ; and how he 
only wore a sword-belt that he might succour the 
widow and the fatherless, the ^vTetched and the 
oppressed. For my own part I do not hke an in- 
complete or a deferred dedication to God's service, 
and when I read of the centurion Cornelius that he 
was a just man I immediately hear of him as being 
baptized. 

Still, we may approve of all this as being the 
cradlings of a new-born faith. He who has been 
a loyal soldier under a foreign banner is sure to 
deserve the laurel when he begins to serve his own 
king. When Nepotian laid aside his soldier's belt 
and changed his dress, he gave all his army savings 
to the poor. For he had read the words : ' If thou 
wilt be perfect, sell that thou hast, and give to the poor 
and follow me,' ^ and again : • Ye cannot serve two 
masters, God and Mammon.' ^ He kept nothing for 
himself except a coarse tunic and cloak to protect 
him from the cold. His dress was of provincial cut, 

281 



SELECT LETfERS OF ST. JEROME 

nee sordibus notabilis erat. Cumque arderet cotidie 
aut ad Aegypji monasteria pergere aut Mesopotamiae 
invisere ehoros vel certe insularum Dalmatiae, quae 
Altino tantum freto distant, solitudines occupare, 
avunculum pontificem deserere non audebat tota in 
illo cernens exempla virtutum domique habens, unde 
disceret. In uno atque eodem et imitabatur mona- 
chum et episcopum venerabatur. Non, ut in pleris- 
que accidere solet, adsiduitas familiaritatem, familiari- 
tas contemptum illius fecerat, sed ita eum colebat, 
quasi parentem, ita admirabatur, quasi cotidie novum 
cerneret. 

Quid multa? Fit clericus et per solitos gradus 
presbyter ordinatur. lesu bone, qui gemitus, qui 
heiulatus, quae cibi interdictio, quae fuga oculorum 
omnium ! Turn primum et solum avunculo iratus 
est. Querebatur se ferre non posse, et iuvenalem 
aetatem incongruam sacerdotio causabatur. Sed 
quanto plus repugnabat, tanto magis omnium in se 
studia concitabat et merebatur negando, quod esse 
nolebat, eoque dignior erat, quod se clamabat 
indignum. Vidimus Timotheum nostri temporis et 
canos in Sapientia electumque a Moysi presbyterum, 
quem ipse sciret esse presbyterum. Igitur cleri- 
catum non honorem intellegens sed onus primam 
curam habuit, ut humilitate superaret invidiam, 
deinde, ut nullam obsceni in se rumoris fabulam daret, 



1 Altinum, in Venetia, on the border of the lagoons, and 
opposite Torcello island, to which the episcopal see was 
transferred in a.d. 635. 

2 Cf. p. 412, note 1. 

' Wisdom, iv. 9. * But wisdom is the grey hair unto man, 
and an unspotted life is old age.' 

282 



LETTER LX 

not noticeable either for elegance or for shabbiness. 
Every day he burned either to go to the monasteries 
of Egypt, or to \'isit the saintly companies of Mesopo- 
tamia, or at least to take up his dwelling in the 
lonely spaces of the Dalmatian islands, separated 
from Altinum only by a strait.^ But he could not 
bring himself to desert his episcopal uncle, in whom 
he saw a pattern of every Wrtue and from whose 
lessons he could profit at home. In one and the 
same person he had a monk to imitate and a bishop 
to revere. With him it was not as so often with 
many ; intimacy did not breed familiarity, nor 
familiarity contempt. He honoured his bishop as 
though he had been his father ; he admired him as 
though every day he saw in him a new man. 

To be brief, Nepotian became a clergyman, and 
passing through the usual stages was ordained as 
presbyter.2 Good Jesus! how he sobbed and groaned ! 
how he forbade himself food and fled from the eyes 
of all ! For the first and only time he was angry 
with his uncle, complaining that he could not bear 
his burden and alleging that his youth unfitted him 
for the priesthood. But the more he resisted, the 
more he drew to himself the love of all ; his refusal 
showed him worthy of the rank he did not wish to 
take ; all the more worthy indeed because he pro- 
claimed his unworthiness. We too in our day have 
had a Timothy before our eyes ; we too have seen 
the grey hairs of which the Book of Wisdom speaks ; ' 
our Moses has chosen a presbyter whom he knew 
to be a presbyter indeed. Nepotian regarded the 
clerical office not as an honour but as a burden. He 
made it his first care to silence envy by humility, 
his second to give no ground for scandal against him 

283 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

ut, qui mordebantur ad aetatem eius, stuperent 
ad continentiam. Subvenire pauperibus, visitare 
languentes, provocare hospitio, lenire blanditiis, 
' gaudere cum gaudentibus, flere cum flentibus ' ; 
caecorum baculus, esurientium cibus, spes miserorum, 
solamen lugentium fuit. Ita in singulis virtutibus 
eminebat, quasi ceteras non haberet. Inter presby- 
teros et coaequales primus in opere, extremus in 
ordine. Quidquid boni fecerat, ad avunculum 
referebat ; si quid forte aliter evenerat, quam 
putarat, ilium nescire, se errasse dicebat. In 
publico episcopum, domi patrem noverat. Gravi- 
tatem morum hilaritate frontis temperabat. 
Gaudium risu, non cachinno, intellegeres. Viduas et 
virgines Christi honorare ut matres, hortari ut 
sorores cum omni castitate. lam vero, postquam 
domum se contulerat et relicto foris clerico duritiae 
se tradiderat monachorum, creber in orationibus, 
vigilans in precando lacrimas Deo, non hominibus, 
offerebat ; ieiunia in aurigae modum pro lassitudine 
et viribus corporis moderabatur. Mensae avunculi 
intererat et sic adposita quaeque libabat, ut et 
superstitionem fugeret et continentiam reservaret. 
Sermo eius et omne convivium de scripturis aliquid 
proponere, libenter audire, respondere verecunde, 
recta suscipere, prava non acriter confutare, dispu- 

^ Rom. xii. 15. 

284 



LETTER LX 

and by continence to dumbfound those who railed 
against his youth. He helped the poor, visited the 
sick, challenged others to acts of hospitality, soothed 
men's anger with soft words, ' rejoiced with those 
who rejoiced and wept with those who wept.' ^ He 
was a staff to the blind, food to the hungry, hope to 
the ^vretched, a consolation to the sorrowful. Each 
single virtue was as conspicuous in him as if he 
possessed no others. Among his fellow-presbyters 
and equals in age, he was first in industry, last in 
rank. Any good that he did he ascribed to his 
uncle ; if the result was different from what he had 
expected, he would say that his uncle knew nothing 
of the matter and that it was his own mistake. In 
pubhc he recognized him as a bishop, at home he 
treated him as a father. The gravity of his character 
was tempered by the cheerfulness of his looks. A 
smile, not a guffaw, was the sign that he felt glad. 
Widows and Christ's virgins he honoured as mothers, 
and exhorted as sisters, with all chastity. On his 
return home he left the clergyman outside, and 
submitted himself to the hard rule of a monk. Fre- 
quent in supplication, wakeful in prayer, he offered 
his tears not to men but to God. His fasts he regu- 
lated, as a charioteer does his pace, by the weariness 
or the vigour of his body. He would sit at his 
uncle's table and just taste the dishes set before 
him, thus both avoiding superstition and yet 
keeping to his rule of self-restraint. His chief topic 
of conversation and his favourite form of entertain- 
ment was to bring forward some passage from the 
Scriptxires for discussion ; then he would listen 
modestly, answer diffidently, support the right, and 
mildly refute the wTong, instructing his opponent 

285 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

tantem contra se magis docere quam vincere et 
ingenuo pudore, qui ornabat aetatem, quid cuius 
esset, simpliciter confiteri ; atque in hunc modum 
eruditionis gloriam declinando eruditissimus habe- 
batur. ' Illud,' aiebat, ' Tertulliani, istud Cypriani, 
hoc Lactantii, illud Hilarii est. Sic Minucius Felix, 
ita Victorinus, in hunc modum est locutus Arnobius.' 
Me quoque, quia pro sodalitate avunculi diligebat, 
interdum proferebat in medium. Lectione quoque 
adsidua et meditatione diuturna pectus suum biblio- 
thecam fecerat Christi. 

IL Quotiens ille transmarinis epistulis deprecatus 
est, ut aliquid ad se scriberem ! Qvjotiens nocturnum 
de evangelio petitorem et interpellatricem duri 
iudicis mihi viduam exhibuit ! Cumque ego silentio 
magis quam litteris denegarem et pudore reticentis 
pudorem sufFunderem postulantis, avunculum mihi 
opposuit precatorem, qui et liberius pro alio peter et 
et pro reverentia sacerdotii facilius inpetraret. Feci 
ergo, quod voluit, et brevi libello amicitias nostras 
aeternae memoriae consecravi; quo suscepto Croesi 
opes et Darii divitias se vicisse iactabat. Ilium 
oculis, ilium sinu, ilium manibus, ilium ore retinebat ; 
cumque in strato frequenter evolveret, super pectus 
soporati dulcis pagina decidebat. Si vero peregri- 

1 Letter LII. 
286 



LETTER LX 

rather than vanquishing him. With the ingenuous 
modesty which was one of his youthful charms he 
would frankly confess the source of each argument 
he used, and in this way by disclaiming any reputa- 
tion for learning he gradually came to be considered 
the most learned of us all. ' This,' he would say, 
' is TertuUian's \iew and this is Cyprian's ; this is 
the opinion of Lactantius and this of Hilary ; such 
is the doctrine of Minucius Felix, so \'ictorinus 
teaches, in this fashion Arnobius speaks.' Myself 
too he sometimes quoted, for he loved me because 
of my association with his uncle. Indeed, by con 
stant reading and daily meditation he had made 
his breast a library of Christ. 

How often did he beg me in his letters from across 
the sea to \\Tite something for him ! How often did 
he remind me of the man in the Gospel who sought 
help by night, and of the ^vidow who importuned 
the harsh judge! When he found that I did not 
WTite and saw himself checked by my silence, the 
modesty of his request being matched by the modesty 
of my refusal, he made another move. He got his 
uncle to ask on his behalf, knowing that a request 
for another could be more freely made and that my 
respect for a bishop would ensure him an easier 
success. Accordingly I did what he ^Wshed, and in 
a short treatise ^ dedicated our friendships to eternal 
remembrance, while he on receiving it boasted that 
he surpassed the wealth of Croesus and the treasures 
of Darius. He would always hold my book in his 
hands, devour it with his eyes, fondle it in his breast, 
and repeat it with his hps. In bed he would fre- 
quently undo the roll and fall asleep \\'ith the dear 
page upon his heart. If a stranger or a friend came 

287 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

norum, si amicorum quispiam venerat, laetabatur 
super se nostro testimonio et, quidquid minus in 
opuscule erat, distinctione moderata et pronunti- 
ationis varietate pensabat, ut in recitando illo ipse ^ 
vel placere vel displicere cotidie videretur. Unde 
his fervor, nisi ex amore Dei ? Unde legis Christi 
indefessa meditatio, nisi ex desiderio eius, qui legem 
dedit? AHi nummum addant nvunmo et marsup- 
pium sufFocantes matronarum opes venentur obsequiis, 
sint ditiores monachi, quam fuerant saeculares, 
possideant opes sub Christo paupere, quas sub 
locuplete diabolo non habuerant, et suspiret eos 
ecclesia divites, quos tenuit mundus ante mendicos : 
Nepotianus noster aurum calcans scedulas con- 
sectatur, sed, sicut sui in came contemptor est et 
paupertate incedit ornatior, ita totum ecclesiae 
investigat ornatum, 

12. Ad conparationem quidem superiorum modica 
sunt, quae dicturi sumus, sed et in parvis idem animus 
ostenditur. Ut enim creatorem non in caelo tantum 
miramur et terra, sole et oceano, elefantis, camelis, 
equis, bubus, pardis, ursis, leonibus, sed et in minutis 
quoque animalibus, formica, culice, muscis, vermi- 
culis et istius modi genere, quorum magis corpora 
scimus quam nomina, eandemque in cunctis vene- 
ramur sollertiam, ita mens Christo dedita aeque et 
in maioribus et in minoribus intenta est sciens etiam 
pro otioso verbo reddendam esse rationem. Erat 
ergo sollicitus, si niteret altare, si parietes absque 

^ ipso: Hilberg. 



LETTER LX 

in, he rejoiced to show him the evidence of my re- 
gard ; and anything lacking in my poor work was 
compensated for by careful modulation and varied 
emphasis, so that, when it was read aloud, it was 
he, not I, who seemed to please or to displease. 
Whence could this fervour come save from love of 
God ? Whence this tireless meditation on the 
law of Christ save from longing for Him who gave 
that law ? Let others add shilling to shilling, fasten- 
ing their claws on married ladies' purses and hunting 
for death-bed legacies ; let them be richer as monks 
than they were as men of the world ; let them possess 
wealth in the service of a poor Christ such as they 
never had in the service of a rich devil ; let the 
Church sigh over the opulence of men who in the 
world were beggars. Our dear Nepotian tramples 
gold underfoot, books are the only things he desires. 
But while he despises himself in the flesh and walks 
abroad in splendid poverty, he yet seeks out every- 
thing that may adorn his church. 

In comparison with what I have already said the 
following details are trivial ; but even in small things 
the same spirit is revealed. We admire the Creator, 
not only as the framer of heaven and earth, of sun 
and ocean, of elephants, camels, horses, oxen, 
leopards, bears and lions, but also as the maker of 
tiny creatures, ants, gnats, flies, worms, and the 
like, things whose shapes we know better than their 
names. And as in all creation we reverence His 
skill, so the mind that is given to Christ is equally 
earnest in small things as in great, knowing that an 
account must be given even for an idle word. Nepo- 
tian therefore took anxious pains to keep the altar 
bright, to have the walls free from soot and the 

289 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

fuligine, si pavimenta tersa, si ianitor creber in porta, 
vela semper in ostiis, si sacrarium mundum, si vasa 
lucentia ; et in omnes caerimonias pia sollicitudo 
disposita non minus, non maius neglegebat officium. 
Ubicumque eum in ecclesia quaereres, invenires. 

Nobilem virum Quintum Fabium miratur anti- 
quitas, qui etiam Romanae scriptor historiae est, sed 
magis ex pictura quam litteris nomen invenit; et 
Beselehel nostrum plenum sapientia et spiritu Dei 
scriptura testatur, Hiram quoque, filium mulieris 
Tyriae, quod alter tabernaculi, alter templi supel- 
lectilem fabricati sunt. Quomodo enim laetae 
segetes et uberes agri interdum culmis aristisque 
luxuriant, ita praeclara ingenia et mens plena virtuti- 
bus in variarum artium redundat elegantiam. Unde 
apud Graecos philosophus ille laudatur, qui omne, 
quod uteretur, usque ad pallium et anulum manu 
sua factum gloriatus est. Hoc idem possumus et de 
isto dicere, qui basilicas ecclesiae et martyrum con- 
ciliabula diversis floribus et arborum comis vitiimique 
pampinis adumbraret, ut, quidquid placebat in 
ecclesia tarn dispositione quam visu, laborem presby- 
teri et studium testaretur. 

13. Macte virtute. Cuius talia principia, qualis 
finis erit? O miserabilis humana condicio et sine 
Christo vanum omne, quod vivimus. Quid te sub- 



^ Jerome here confesses C Fabius Pictor the painter (fl. 300) 
with his grandson Quintus the historian. 
* Exodus, xxxi. 2, 3; 1 Kings, vii. 14. 
'' Hippias of Elis. 

290 



LETTER LX 

pavement duly swept. He saw to it that the door- 
keeper was constantly at his post, that the curtains 
were hanging at the entrance, that the sanctuary 
was neat, and the church-vessels brightly polished. 
His careful reverence extended to every form of 
ceremonial, and no duty, small or great, was neglected. 
^Vhenever you looked for him in his church, there 
you found him. 

In Quintus Fabius ^ antiquity admired a man of 
rank, who not only vvTote a history of Rome but 
won even greater fame from his paintings than 
from his books. Our own Bezaleel also and Hiram,^ 
the son of a Tyrian woman, are spoken of in Scripture 
as men filled with wisdom and the spirit of God, 
because one made the furniture of the tabernacle, 
the other that of the temple. As rich crops and 
fertile fields are at times one great luxuriance of 
stalk and ear, so great talents and minds that are 
filled with virtue overflow into a variety of elegant 
accomphshments. So among the Greeks the great 
philosopher ^ was praised, who boasted that he had 
made with his own hands everything which he used, 
including his cloak and his finger-ring. We can 
say the same about Nepotian, for he adorned the 
church-buildings and the halls of the martyrs with 
different kinds of flowers and with the foUage of 
trees and clusters of vine leaves. Indeed, every- 
thing in his church that pleased by its arrangement 
or its appearance bore witness to the labour and the 
zeal of its presbj'ter. 

A blessing on such virtue ! After such a beginning 
what sort of ending should we expect ? How miser- 
able is the condition of man, how vain is all our life 
without Christ! Why do you shrink, O my words, 

291 
u2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

trahis, quid tergiversaris, oratio ? Quasi enim 
mortem illius difFere possimus et vitam facere longi- 
orem, sic timemus ad ultimum pervenire. ' Omnis 
caro faenum et omnis gloria eius quasi flos faeni.' 
Ubi nunc decora ilia facies, ubi totius corporis digni- 
tas, quo veluti pulchro indumento pulchritudo 
animae vestiebatur ? Marcescebat, pro dolor, flante 
austro lilium et purpura violae in pallorem sensim 
migrabat. Cumque aestuaret febribus et venarum 
fontes hauriret calor, lasso anhelitu tristem avun- 
culum consolabatur. Laetus erat vultus et universis 
circa plorantibus solus ipse ridebat. Proicere pallium, 
manus extendere, videre, quod alii non videbant, et 
quasi in occursum se erigens salutare venientes : 
intellegeres ilium non emori, sed migrare, et mutare 
amicos, non relinquere. Volvuntur per ora lacrimae 
et obfirmato animo non queo dolorem dissimulare, 
quern patior. Quis crederet in tali ilium tempore 
nostrae necessitudinis recordari et luctante anima 
studiorum scire dulcedinem ? Adprehensa avunculi 
manu : ' Hanc,' inquit, * tunicam, qua utebar in 
ministerio Christi, mitte dilectissimo mihi, aetate 
patri, fratri collegio, et, quidquid a te nepoti debe- 
batur afFectus, in ilium transfer, quem mecum pariter 
diligebas.' Atque in talia verba defecit avunculum 
manu, me recordatione contrectans. 

14. Scio, quod nolueris amorem in te civium sic 
probare, et affectum patriae magis quaesisse in 

1 1 Peter, i. 24. - Cf. p. 464, note 3. 

292 



LETTER LX 

why do you hesitate? I fear to come to the end, 
a-^ though I could put off his death and make his 
life longer. ' All flesh is as grass and all the glory 
of man as the flower of grass.' ^ Where now is that 
comely face, where is that dignified figure, which 
clothed his fair soul as with a fair garment? O 
grief! the lily ^^•ithered when the south wind blew, 
and the \iolet's purple slowly faded into paleness. 
He burned with fever, and all the moisture in his 
veins was dried up with heat, but gasping and weary 
he still tried to comfort his uncle's grief. His face 
was bright, and while all around him wept, he alone 
smiled.^ Suddenly he flung off his cloak and stretched 
out his hands, seeing something that was not revealed 
to others' eyes, and raising himself up as though to 
meet them he greeted those that were coming to 
him. You would have thought that he was starting 
on a journey, not dying, and that he was exchanging 
friends, not leaving friends behind. The tears roll 
down my face, and though I steel my courage I 
cannot hide the pain which I suff'er. Who would 
believe that in such an hour he still remembered our 
friendship, and that while he was struggling for life 
he still recalled the delights of study ? Grasping 
his uncle's hand he said : ' Send this tunic which I 
wore in the service of Christ to my beloved friend, 
my father in age and my brother in office, and any 
affection due to your nephew transfer to him, who 
is as dear to you as he is to me.' With these words 
he passed away, his uncle's hand in his, and thoughts 
of me in his heart. 

I know that you were reluctant to prove your 
people's love at such a cost, and that you would 
have preferred to \\in your country's affection under 

293 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST JEROME 

prosperis. Sed huiusce modi officium in bonis 
iucundius est, in malis gratius. Tota hunc civitas, 
tota planxit Italia. Corpus terra suscepit, anima 
Christo reddita est. Tu nepotem quaerebas, ecclesia 
sacerdotem. Praecessit te successor tuus. Quod tu 
eras, ille post te iudicio omnium merebatur. Atque 
ita ex una dome duplex pontificatus egressa est 
dignitas : dum in altero gratulatio est, quod tenuerit, 
in altero maeror, quod raptus sit, ne teneret. Pla- 
tonis sententia est omnem sapienti vitam medita- 
tionem esse mortis. Laudant hoc philosophi et in 
caelum ferunt, sed multo fortius apostolus : ' Cotidie,' 
inquit, ' morior per vestram gloriam.' Aliud est 
conari, aliud agere ; aliud vivere moriturum, aliud 
mori victurum. Ille moriturus ex gloria est; iste 
moritur semper ad gloriam. 

Debemus igitur et nos animo praemeditari, quod 
aliquando futuri sumus et quod — velimus nolimus — 
abesse longius non potest. Nam si nongentos vitae 
excederemus annos, ut ante diluvium vivebat 
humanum genus, et Mathusalae nobis tempora 
donarentur, tamen nihil esset praeterita longitudo, 
quae esse desisset. Etenim inter eum, qui decem 
vixit annos, et ilium, qui mille, postquam idem vitae 
finis advenerit et inrecusabilis mortis necessitas, 



^ Plato, Phaedo, 81a, saj^s of the philosophic life : rj ov tovt' 
av eiT) ^eXerrj Oavdrov ; 

^ 1 Corinthians, xv. 31 : vtj ttjv vnerepav Kavxrjaiv tJv e;^a) ev 

294 



LETTER LX 

happier circumstances. But such dutiful attentions 
as were sho^\^l you then, while more pleasant in 
prosperity, are especially grateful in times of grief. 
All Altinum, all Italy wept for your nephew. The 
earth received his body, his soul was given back to 
Christ. You lost a nephew, the Church a priest. 
He who should have followed you went before you. 
What vou were, he in all men's judgment deserved 
to be. One household has had the honour of pro- 
ducing two bishops, the first congratulated on having 
held office, the second lamented on being taken 
away before he could hold it. There is a saying of 
Plato that a wise man's whole life should be a pre- 
paration for death. ^ Philosophers praise the senti- 
ment and laud it to the skies, but the apostle speaks 
with a higher courage when he says : ' By my glory 
in you I die daily.' - It is one thing to attempt, 
another to do ; one thing to hve so as to die, another 
to die so as to live. The sage passes from glory 
when death comes, the Christian proceeds to glory 
when he dies. 

Therefore we too ought to meditate beforehand, 
and to consider the fate which must one day come 
upon us, a fate which, whether we wish it or not, 
cannot be very far distant. Even if we lived for 
nine hundred years and more, as men did before 
the flood, even if the age of Methuselah were granted 
to us, that length of time once passed would be 
nothing when it had ceased to be. Between the 
man who has lived for ten years and the man who 
has lived for a thousand, there is no difference when 
once the end of life has come to both alike and 
death's inexorable necessity. The only point is that 

vu'lv. But Jerome takes advantage of the Vulgate version to 
play on the phrases per gloriam, ex gloria, ad gloriam. 

295 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

transactum omne tantundem est, nisi quod magis 
senex onustus peccatorum fasce proficiscitur. 

' Optima quaeque dies miseris mortalibus aevi 
Prima fugit, subeunt morbi tristisque senectus 
Et labor et durae rapit inclementia mortis,' 

Naevius poeta ' Pati,' inquit, ' necesse est multa 
mortalem mala.' Unde et Niobam, qui multum 
fleverit in lapidem et in diversas bestias {conversas 
alias et Hecubam in canem) commutatam finxit 
antiquitas, et Hesiodus natales hominum plangens 
gaudet in funere, prudenterque Ennius : 

' Plebes,' ait, ' in hoc regio ^ antistat loco : licet 
Lacrimare plebi, regi honeste non licet.' 

Ut regi, sic episcopo, immo minus regi quam episcopo. 
Ille enim nolentibus praeest, hie volentibus ; ille 
terrore subicit, hie servitute dominatur ; ille corpora 
custodit ad mortem, hie animas servat ad vitam. In 
te omnium oculi diriguntur, domus tua et conversatio 
quasi in specula constituta magistra est publicae 
disciplinae. Quidquid feceris, id sibi omnes facien- 
dum putant. Cave ne committas, quod aut, qui 
reprehendere volunt, digne lacerasse videantur aut, 
qui imitari, cogantur delinquere. Vince quantum 
potes, immo plus quam potes, moUitiem animi tui 
et ubertim fluentes lacrimas reprime, ne grandis 
pietas in nepotem apud incredulas mentes desperatio 
putetur in Deum. Desiderandus tibi est quasi 

^ The best reading is regi. 



^ Virgil, Oeorgics, III. G6. 
2 Ennius, Iphigenia, fr. 7. 



296 



LETTER LX 

the older a man is, the heavier is the load of sin he 
takes with him on his journey. 

' O hapless men ! the brightest years are first 
To fly : disease and age come on us soon 
And trouble and the ruthlessness of death.' ^ 

So the poet Naevius says : ' Mortals perforce must 
manv ills endure.' Therefore antiquity feigned 
that Niobe, because of her long weeping, was turned 
into stone, and that other women were changed into 
various kinds of animals, Hecuba, for example, into 
a dog. Hesiod too bewails men's birthdays and 
rejoices at their death, and Ennius wisely says : 

' The mob in this outvies the kingly state, 
For they may weep ; tears to a king are shame.' * 

As with a king, so with a bishop : or rather a 
bishop has less licence than a king. The king rules 
over the unwilhng, the bishop over the willing. The 
king subdues by inspiring fear, the bishop is master 
because he is servant. The king guards bodies for 
future death, the bishop saves souls for eternal life. 
The eyes of all men are turned upon you, your 
house is set as it were upon a watch-tower, and your 
life gives to all a lesson of public discipline. What- 
ever you do, everyone thinks that he may do also. 
Take care not to commit any act which those who 
wish to blame you may seem right in censuring, or 
which would force those who ^^ish to imitate you to 
do WTong. Use all your strength, and even more, 
to overcome the softness of your heart, and check 
the copious flood of your tears lest your great love 
for your nephew be taken by unbelievers as showing 
despair of God. You must regret him not as one 

297 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

absens, non quasi mortuus, ut ilium expectare, non 
amisisse videaris. 

15. Verum quid ago medens dolori, quem iam reor 
et tempore et ratione sedatum, ac non potius replico 
tibi vicinas regum miserias et nostri temporis calami- 
tates, ut non tam plangendus sit, qui hac luce caruerit, 
quam congratulandum ei, quod de tantis malis 
evaserit ? Constantius, Arrianae fautor hereseos, 
dum contra inimicum paratur et concitus fertur ad 
pugnam, in Mopsi viculo moriens magno dolore hosti 
reliquit imperium. lulianus, perditor animae suae 
et Christiani iugulator exercitus, Christum sensit in 
Media, quem primum in Gallia denegarat ; dumque 
Romanos propagare vult fines, perdidit propagatos. 
lovianus gustatis tantum regalibus bonis fetore 
prunarum sufFocatus interiit ostendens omnibus, 
quid sit humana potentia. Valentinianus vastato 
genitali solo et inultam patriam dereliquens vomitu 
sanguinis extinctus est. Huius germanus Valens 
Gothico bello victus in Thracia eundem locum et 
mortis habuit et sepulchri. Gratianus ab exercitu 
suo proditus et ab obviis urbibus non receptus ludi- 
brio hosti fuit cruentaeque manus vestigia parietes 
tui, Lugdune, testantur. Adulescens Valentinianus 
et paene puer post fugam, post exilia, post recupera- 
tum multo sanguine imperium haut procul ab urbe 

^ The Emperors here mentioned followed one another in 
quick succession. Constantius died in 361 while marching to 
Constantinople to resist Julian. Julian was killed fighting the 
Persians in 363, and was succeeded by Jovian who only reigned 
a few months. His place was taken in the West by Valentinian 
(364-375), and in the East by Valens (364-378), while Gratian, 
who came next, was murdered at Lyons in 383. Procopius, 
Maximus and Eugenius were usurpers of short duration, 
overthrown by Theodosius the Great (379-395). 



LETTER LX 

who is dead, but as one who has gone away. Let 
men see that you have not lost him, but are waiting 
to see him again. 

But what am I doing in thus seeking to heal a 
pain which I imagine has already been assuaged by 
time and philosophy ? \^Tiy do I not rather unfold to 
you the miseries of kings ^ in our near neighbourhood 
and the disasters that have come upon our age ? He 
who has escaped from this world's Ught is not so 
much to be lamented as he is to be congratulated 
on having been saved from such great evils. Con- 
stantius, the patron of the Arian heresy, was making 
preparations against his enemy and advancing in 
haste to give him battle, when he died at the \illage 
of Mopsus, and to his great grief left the empire to 
the foe. Julian, the betrayer of his own soul, the 
assassin of a Christian army, felt in Media the power 
of that Christ whom in Gaul he had denied, and 
while he was trying to extend the territories of 
Rome he lost the annexations which had already 
been made. Jo\ian had but just tasted the sweets 
of kingship when he was suffocated by a coal fire, 
revealing to all men the true nature of human power. 
\'alentiiiian died of a broken blood-vessel, lea\-ing 
his country unavenged and his native soil devastated. 
His brother Valens was defeated in the Gothic war, 
and in Thrace was buried where he fell. Gratian, 
betrayed by his own army and refused admittance 
by all the cities which he approached, became the 
laughing-stock of the enemy : your walls, O Lyons, 
still bear the mark of that bloody hand. Valentinian 
was but a youth, hardly more than a boy, when, 
after flight and exile and the recovery of his throne 
amid streams of blood, he was murdered not far 

299 



SFXECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

fraternae mortis conscia necatus est et cadaver 
exanimis infamatum suspendio. Quid loquar de 
Procopio, Maximo, Eugenio, qui utique, dum rerum 
potirentur, terrori gentibus erant? Omnes capti 
steterunt ante ora victorum et, quod potentissimis 
quondam miserrimum est, prius ignominia servitutis 
quam hostili mucrone confossi sunt. 

16. Dicat aliquis : ' Regum talis condicio est, 
" feriuntque summos fulgura montes." ' Ad privatas 
veniam dignitates nee de his loquar, qui excedunt 
biennium; atque, ut ceteros praetermittam, sufficit 
nobis trium nuper consularium diversos exitus 
scribere. Abundantius egens Pityunte exulat; 
Rufini caput pile Constantinopolin gestatum est et 
abscissa manus dextera ad dedecus insatiabilis 
avaritiae ostiatim stipes mendicavit; Timasius 
praecipitatus repente de altissimo dignitatis gradu 
evasisse se putat, quod Assae ^ vivit inglorius. Non 
calamitates miserorum, sed fragilem humanae condi- 
cionis narro statum^ — horret animus temporum 
nostrorum ruinas prosequi — viginti et eo amplius anni 
sunt, quod inter Constantinopolin et Alpes lulias 
cotidie Romanus sanguis efFunditur. Scythiam, 
Thraciam, Macedoniam, Thessaliam, Dardaniam, 
Daciam, Epiros, Dalmatiam, cunctasque Pannonias 
Gothus, Sarmata, Quadus, Alanus, Huni, Vandali, 
Marcomanni vastant, trahunt, rapiunt. Quot ma- 

1 in Oase : Hilberg. 

^ Horace, Odes, II. x. 11. 

2 Banished c. 396 to Pityus on the Black Sea by Eutropius, 
whom he had helped to raise to power. 

^ Prime Minister of Theodosius I, assassinated by Gaina.«i 
in the reign of Arcadius. 

* A general of Theodosius banished by Eutropius. 

300 



LETTER LX 

from the city which had witnessed his brother's 
death, and suffered the shame of having his corpse 
hung from a gibbet. Why speak of Procopius, 
Maximus, and Eugenius, who, while they ruled at 
any rate, were a terror to the nations ? They all 
stood as prisoners in the presence of their conquerors, 
and — fate most wretched for those who had once 
been supreme ! — felt their hearts stabbed by the 
shame of slavery before they perished by the enemy's 
sword. 

Some one may say : ' Such is the lot of kings, " the 
lightnings strike the mountain tops." ' ^ I ^vill come, 
then, to persons of private rank, and even in their 
case I vriW not go back for more than two years. 
Omitting any others, it is sufficient for me to record 
the diverse ends of three men recently of consular 
position. Abundantius - is now a beggar and lives 
in exile at Pityus. The head of Rufinus ^ was carried 
on a pike to Constantinople, and to shame his in- 
satiable greed his severed hand begged for pence 
from door to door. Timasius * was hurled down 
suddenly from a post of the highest dignity, and 
thinks it an escape that he now Uves in obscurity 
at Assa. I will say no more of the calamities of 
individuals ; I come now to the frail fortunes of 
human life, and my soul shudders to recount the 
do^^^lfall of our age. 

For twenty years and more the blood of Romans 
has every day been shed between Constantinople 
and the JuUan Alps. Scythia, Thrace, Macedonia, 
Thessaly, Dardania, Dacia, Epirus, Dalmatia, and 
all the provinces of Pannonia, have been sacked, 
pillaged and plundered by Goths and Sarmatians, 
Quadians and Alans, Huns and Vandals and Mar- 

301 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

tronae, quot virgines Dei et ingenua nobiliaque 
corpora his beluis fuere ludibrio! Capti episcopi, 
interfecti presbyteri et diversorum officia clericorum, 
subversae ecclesiae, ad altaria Christi stabulati 
equi, martyrum efFossae reliquae : ubique luctus, 
ubique gemitus ' et plurima mortis imago.' Romanus 
orbis ruit et tamen cervix nostra erecta non flectitur. 
Quid putas nunc animi habere Corinthios, Atheni- 
enses, Lacedaemonios, Arcadas cunctamque Grae- 
ciam, quibus imperant barbari ? Et certe paucas 
urbes nominavi, in quibus olim fuere regna non 
modica. Inmunis ab his malis videbatur oriens et 
tantum nuntiis consternatus : ecce tibi anno prae- 
terito ex ultimis Caucasi rupibus inmissi in nos non 
Arabiae, sed septentrionis lupi tantas brevi pro- 
vincias percucurrerunt. Quot monasteria capta, 
quantae fluviorum aquae humano cruore mutatae 
sunt! Obsessa Antiochia et urbes reliquae, quas 
Halys, Cydnus, Orontes Eufratesque praeterfluunt. 
Tracti greges captivorum ; Arabia, Phoenix, Palae- 
stina, Aegyptus timore captivae. 

* Non mihi si Hnguae centum sint oraque centum, 
Ferrea vox. 
Omnia poenarum percurrere nomina possim.* 



1 Virgil, Ae7ieid, II. 369. ^ ^^d, 395. 

» Virgil, Aeneid, VT. 625. 
302 



LEHER LX 

comanni. How many matrons, how many of God's 
virgins, ladies of gentle birth and high position, 
have been made the sport of these beasts ! Bishops 
have been taken prisoners, presbyters and other 
clergymen of different orders murdered. Churches 
have been overthro^\•n, horses stabled at Christ's 
altar, the relics of martyrs dug up. 

'Sorrow and grief on every side we see 
And death in many a shape.' ^ 

The Roman world is falling, and yet we hold our 
heads erect instead of bowing our necks. What, 
think you, are the feelings of the Corinthians, the 
Athenians, the Lacedaemonians, the Arcadians, 
and all the other Greeks over whom barbarians now 
are ruling? I have only mentioned a few cities 
certainly, but they were once the seats of no small 
powers. The East seemed to be immune from these 
dangers and was only dismayed by the news that 
reached her. But lo! last year- the wolves — not 
of Arabia, but from the far north — were let loose 
upon us from the distant crags of Caucasus, and in 
a short time overran whole provinces. How many 
monasteries did they capture, how many rivers 
were reddened with men's blood ! They besieged 
Antioch and all the other cities on the Halys, Cydnus, 
Orontes, and Euphrates. They carried off troops 
of captives. Arabia, Phoenicia, Palestine and Egypt 
in their terror felt themselves already enslaved. 

* Had I a hundred tongues, a hundred mouths, 
A voice of brass, I could not tell the names 
Of all those punishments.' ^ 

3°3 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

Neque enim historiam proposui scribere, sed nostras 
breviter flere miserias. Alioquin ad haec merito 
explicanda et Thucydides et Sallustius muti sunt. 

17. Felix Nepotianus, qui haec non videt; felix, 
qui ista non audit. Nos miseri, qui aut patimur aut 
patientes fratres nostros tanta perspicimus ; et tamen 
vivere volumus eosque, qui his carent, flendos potius 
quam beandos putamus. Ohm ofFensum sentinius 
nee placamus Deum. Nostris peccatis barbari 
fortes sunt, nostris vitiis Romanus superatur exerci- 
tus ; et quasi non hoc sufficeret cladibus plus paene 
bella civilia quam hostilis mucro consumpsit. Miseri 
Israhelitae, ad quorum conparationem Nabuchodo- 
nosor servus Dei scribitur ; infelices nos, qui tantum 
displicemus Deo, ut per rabiem barbarorum illius in 
nos ira desaeviat. Ezechias egit paenitentiam, et 
centum octoginta quinque milia Assyriorum ab uno 
angelo una nocte deleta sunt ; losophat laudes 
domino concinebat, et dominus pro laudante 
superabat; Moyses contra Amalech non gladio sed 
oratione pugnavit. Si erigi volumus, prosternamur. 
Pro pudor et stolida usque ad incredulitatem mens ! 
Romanus exercitus, victor orbis et dominus, ab his 
vincitur, hos pavet, horum terretur aspectu, qui 
ingredi non valent, qui, si terram tetigerint, se mor- 
tuos arbitrantur, et non intellegimus prophetarum 
voces : ' fugient mille uno persequente ' nee ampu- 



1 Jeremiah, xxvii. 6. * 2 Kings, xix. 35. 

2 2 Chron., xx. 5ff. * Exodus, xvii, 11. 
* I.e. the Huns. ^ Tsaiah, xxx. 17. 



LE'lTER LX 

But I did not propose to write a history : I only 
wished briefly to lament our miseries. In any case, 
if it came to telling this tale adequately, even 
Thucydides and Sallust would have no voice. 

Happy is Nepotian, for he does not see these 
sights nor hear those cries. We are the unhappy, 
who either suffer ourselves or see our brothers 
suffer. And yet we msh to go on living, and think 
that those who have escaped from these evils are 
to be lamented rather than counted happy. For 
a long time now we have felt that God is offended 
>vith us, but we do not try to appease Him. It is 
by reason of our sins that the barbarians are strong, 
it is our vices that bring defeat to the armies of 
Rome ; and as if this were not enough of carnage, 
civil wars have spilt almost more blood than the enemy's 
sword. Miserable were the Israelites, in comparison 
with whom Nebuchadnezzar is called the servant 
of God : ^ unhappy are we, who have so displeased 
God that His anger vents its fury on us by the bar- 
barians' mad attacks. Hezekiah repented, and 
one hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrians 
were destroyed by one angel in a night.- Jehosa- 
phat sang the praises of the Lord, and the Lord gave 
his worshipper the victory.^ Moses fought against 
Amalek, not with the sword, but -s^-ith prayer.* If 
we wish to be hfted up, let us first prostrate our- 
selves. Shame on us who are too stupid for belief! 
The soldiers of Rome, who once subdued and ruled 
the world, now tremble and shrink in fear from men 
who cannot walk on foot and think themselves as 
good as dead if once they are unhorsed.^ We do not 
understand the prophet's words : ' One thousand 
shall flee at the rebuke of one.' ® We do not cut away 

305 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

tamus causas morbi, ut morbus pariter auferatur, 
statimque cernamus ^ sagittas pilis, tiaras galeis, 
caballos equis cedere ? 

18. Excessimus consolandi nioduni, et, dum unius 
mortem flere prohibemus, totius orbis mortuos 
planximus. Xerxes, ille rex potentissimus, qui 
subvertit montes, maria constravit, cum de sublimi 
loco infinitam hominum multitudinem et innumera- 
bilem vidisset exercitum, flesse dicitur, quod post 
centum annos nullus eorum, quos tunc cernebat, 
superfuturus esset. O si possemus in talem ascendere 
speculam, de qua universam terram sub nostris 
pedibus cerneremus ! lam tibi ostenderem totius 
mundi ruinas, gentes gentibus et regnis regna 
conlisa ; alios torqueri, alios necari, alios obrui 
fluctibus, alios ad servitutem trahi ; hie nuptias, ibi 
planctum ; illos nasci, istos mori ; alios affluere 
divitiis, alios mendicare ; et non Xerxis tantum 
exercitum, sed totius mundi homines, qui nunc 
vivunt, in brevi spatio defuturos. Vincitur sermo rei 
naagnitudine et minus est omne quod dicimus. 

19. Redeamus igitur ad nos et quasi e caelo 
descendentes paulisper nostra videamus. Sentisne, 
obsecro te, quando infans, quando puer, quando 
iuvenis, quando robustae aetatis, quando senex 
factus sis ? Cotidie morimur, cotidie commutamur 
et tamen aeternos esse nos credimus. Hoc ipsum, 
quod dicto, quod scribitur, quod relego, quod emendo, 

^ cernimus : Hilberg. 



^ That is to say, the enemy weapons would give way to 
the Roman. 

« Herodotus, VII. 45. 

306 



LETTER LX 

the causes of our malady, and thereby remove the 
malady itself. Then we should see arrows give 
way to javelins, caps to helmets, and nags to 
chargers.^ 

I have passed beyond the limits of consolation, 
and in forbidding you to weep for one man's death 
I have mourned for the dead of the whole world. 
That mighty king Xerxes, who overthrew mountains 
and turned the sea into solid ground, when from 
his high place he looked upon his infinite multitudes 
and his countless host of men, is said to have wept 
at the thought that not one of those whom he saw 
would in a hundred years be alive.- Oh, if we could 
ascend into such a watch-tower as would give us a 
view of the whole world spread beneath our feet ! 
Then I would show you a universe in ruins, peoples 
warring against peoples, and kingdoms shattered 
on kingdoms. You would see some men being 
tortured, some killed, others drowned at sea, others 
dragged off to slavery ; here a wedding, there 
lamentation ; some being born, others dying ; some 
living in affluence, others begging their bread ; not 
merely Xerxes' army, but the inhabitants of the 
whole world now alive destined soon to pass away. 
Words fail ; for language is inadequate to the great- 
ness of this theme. 

Let us return then to ourselves, and coming down 
from the skies consider for a moment our own posi- 
tion. Are you conscious now, pray, of the time 
when you were an infant, or of the stages you have 
passed from boyhood to manhood, from maturity 
to old age ? Every day we die, every day we are 
changed, and yet we believe ourselves to be eternal. 
This very act of dictation, \^Titing, revising and 

307 
x2 



SELECT LE'rrEllS OF ST. JEROME 

de vita mea trahitur. Quot puncta notarii, tot 
meorum damna sunt temporum. Scribimus atque 
rescribimus, transeunt maria epistulae et fidente 
sulcos carina per singulos fluctus aetatis nostrae 
momenta minuuntur. Solum habemus lucri, quod 
Christi nobis amore sociamur. ' Caritas patiens est, 
benigna est ; caritas non zelatur, non agit perperam, 
non inflatur, omnia sustinet, omnia credit, omnia 
sperat, omnia patitur; caritas numquam excidit.' 
Haec semper vivit in pectore ; ob hanc Nepotianus 
noster absens praesens est et per tanta terrarum 
spatia divisos utraque conplectitur manu. Habemus 
mutuae obsidem caritatis. lungamur spiritu, stringa- 
mur afFectu et fortitudinem mentis, quam beatus papa 
Chromatius ostendit in dormitione germani, nos 
imitemur in filio. Ilium nostra pagella decantet, 
ilium cunctae litterae sonent. Quem corpore non 
valemus, recordatione teneamus et, cum quo loqui 
non possumus, de eo numquam loqui desinamus. 

Lxxvn 

Ad Oceanum de Morte Fabiolae 

1. Plures anni sunt, quod super dormitione 
Blesillae Paulam, venerabilem feminam, recenti 

^ 1 Corinthians, xiii. 4, 7. 

2 Bishop of Aquileia, d. c. 407 : his brother Eusebius was also 
a bishop. Cf. Letter VII. The title " Pope," at first applied 
to the " spiritual father," who was the means of a man's con- 
version, later became restricted first to bishops and abbots, 
then to the Bishop of Rome and the patriarchs of Alexandria, 
Antioch, Jerusalem and Constantinople, and finally after 1073 
was claimed exclusively for the Bishop of B,ome. 

* This letter, addressed to Oceanus, and written in a.d. 399, 
gives an account of the life of Fabiola, one of the rich Roman 
matrons who took Jerome as their spiritual guide. She 

308 



LETTER LX AND LETTER LXXMI 

correction is something taken from my span. Every 
stroke of my secretary's pen is so much loss of life 
for me. We write letters and send replies, our 
messages cross the seas, and as the ship cleaves a 
furrow through the waves the moments that we 
have to live grow less. We have but one profit : we 
are joined together by the love of Christ. ' Charity 
suffereth long and is kind ; charity envieth not ; 
charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up ; beareth 
all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, 
endureth all things. Charity never faileth.' ^ It 
lives ever in the heart, and by it our Nepotian is 
present though absent, and grasps us each by a 
hand, severed as we are in distant lands. We have 
in him a pledge of our mutual love. Let us join 
in spirit, let us bind ourselves together in affection's 
chains, and let us who have lost a son take pattern 
by the courage that the blessed Pope Chromatins ^ 
showed when his brother fell asleep. Let our pages 
chant his praise, let every letter echo his name. 
We cannot have him in the body, but let us hold 
him fast in remembrance. We cannot speak ^vith 
him, but let us never cease to speak of him. 

LETTER LXXVII 

To OCEANUS ^ OX THE DeaTH OF FaBIOLA 

Many years have passed since I consoled the 
venerated Paula, while her wound was still fresh, 

divorced her first husband and then married again, but did 
penance for tliis error and visited the Holy Land, where she 
was staying with Jerome when the Huns invaded Palestine. She 
then returned to Rome, and in conjunction with Pammachius, 
the widowed husband of the rich Paulina, established a hostel 
for travellers at Ostia just before her death. Cf. App., p. 486. 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

adhuc vulnere consolatus sum. Quartae aestatis 
circulus volvitur, ex quo ad Heliodorum episcopum 
Nepotiani scribens epitaphium, quidquid habere 
virium potui, in illo tunc dolore consumpsi. Ante 
hoc ferme biennium Pammachio meo pro subita 
peregrinatione Paulinae brevem epistulam dedi 
erubescens ad disertissimum virum plura loqui et ei 
sua ingerere, ne non tarn consolari amicum viderer, 
quam stulta iactantia docere perfectum. Nunc 
mihi, fili Oceane, volenti et ultro adpetenti debitum 
munus inponiSj quod pro novitate virtutum veterem 
materiam novam faciam. In illis enim vel parentis 
affectus vel maeror avunculi vel desiderium mariti 
temperandum fuit et pro diversitate personarum 
diversa de scripturis adhibenda medicina. 

2. In praesentiarum tradis mihi Fabiolam, laudem 
Christianorum, miraculum gentilium, luctum pau- 
perum, solacium monachorum. Quidquid primum 
adripuero, sequentium conparatione vilescit. leiu- 
nium praedicem ? Praevertunt elemosynae. Humili- 
tatem laudem ? Maior est ardor fidei. Dicam 
adpetitas sordes et in condemnationem vestium 
sericarum plebeium cultum et servilia indumenta 
quaesita ? Plus est animum deposuisse quam cultum. 
Difficilius adrogantia quam auro caremus et gemmis. 
His enim abiectis interdum gloriosis tumemus 
sordibus et vendibilem paupertatem populari aurae 



Letter XXXIX. ^ Letter LX. 

3 Letter LXVI. 



310 



LETTER LXXVII 

for the falling asleep of Blesilla.^ Four summers 
have rolled by since I ^^Tote to Bishop Hehodorus a 
funeral panegyric on Nepotian,^ spending all the 
strength that I possessed in giving expression to 
my grief. About two years have elapsed since I 
sent a brief letter to my dear Pammachius on the 
sudden passing of his Pauhna,^ for I blushed to say 
more to so learned a man or to repeat to him his 
own thoughts, lest I should seem, not so much to 
be comforting a friend, as in foolish ostentation to 
be instructing one already perfect. To-day, my 
son Oceanus, the^task of duty you impose upon me 
is one that I gladly accept and would even seek 
unasked ; for deahng with new virtues I shall make 
an old subject fresh. In those other cases I had 
to assuage a mother's love, an uncle's grief, and a 
husband's yearning; and as the persons differed 
I had to apply from the Scriptures a different remedy. 
On this occasion you give me as my subject Fabiola, 
the glory of the Christians, the wonder of the Gentiles, 
the sorrow of the poor, and the consolation of the 
monks. \\Tiatever point I take first pales in com- 
parison ^vith what is to come. Shall I tell of her 
fastings ? Her alms are greater still. Shall I 
praise her humility ? It is outstripped by the 
ardour of her faith. Shall I mention her studied 
squalor, her plebeian dress, and the slave's garb 
she choose in condemnation of silken robes ? It is 
a greater thing to change one's disposition than to 
change one's dress. We part ^^•ith arrogance less 
easily than Avith gold and jewels. Even when these 
are thrown away, we sometimes pride ourselves on 
our ostentatious shabbiness and make a bid for 
popular favour by offering poverty as its price. A 

3" 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

ofFerimus. Celata virtus et in conscientiae fota 
secreto Deum solum iudicem respicit. Unde novis 
mihi est efferenda praeconiis et ordine rhetorum 
praetermisso tota de conversionis ac paenitentiae 
incunabulis adsumenda. Alius forsitan scholae 
memor Quintum Maximum, 

' Unus qui nobis cunctando restituit rem,' 

et totam Fabiorum gentem proferret in medium, 
diceret pugnas, describeret proelia et per tantae 
nobilitatis gradus Fabiolam venisseiaetaret, ut, quod 
in virga non poterat, in radicibus demonstrareret. 
Ego, diversorii Bethlemitici et praesepis dominici 
amator, in quo virgo puerpera Deum fudit infantem, 
ancillam Christi non de nobilitate veteris historiae, 
sed de ecclesiae humilitate producam. 

3. Et quia statim in principio quasi scopulus 
quidam et procella mihi obtrectatorum eius opponi- 
tur, quod secundum sortita matrimonium prius 
reliquerit, non laudabo conversam, nisi ream absol- 
vero. Tanta prior maritus vitia habuisse narratur, 
ut ne scortum quidem et vile mancipium ea sustinere 
posset. Quae si voluero dicere, perdam virtutem 
feminae, quae maluit culpam subire discidii quam 
quandam corporis sui infamare partem et maculas 
eius detegere. Hoc solum proferam, quod vere- 
cundae matronae et Christianae satis est. Praecepit 
dominus uxorem non debere dimitti excepta causa 

^ Ennius and Virgil, Aeneid, VI. 846. 
312 



LETTER LXXVII 

virtue that is concealed and cherished in the inner 
consciousness looks to God alone as judge. So the 
eulogy I bestow upon her must be altogether new: 
I must neglect all the rules of rhetoric and begin 
my story at the cradle of her conversion and penitence. 
Others perhaps might remember their school-days 
and bring forward Quintus Maximus : 

* The man who by delaying saved the state,' ^ 

and with him the whole Fabian family. They might 
tell of their conflicts and describe their battles, and 
boast that Fabiola had come of so noble a Une, sho\\ing 
in the root a glory which they could not find in the 
branch. I for my part, who am a lover of the inn 
at Bethlehem, and the Lord's stable where the 
\'irgin in childbirth brought forth an infant God, 
I will bring forward a handmaid of Christ who shall 
rely not on the fame of ancient history but on the 
humility of the Church. 

As at the very outset there is a rock in the path, 
and I am faced by the storm of censure that was 
directed against her for having taken a second 
husband and abandoned her first, I shall not praise 
her for her conversion until I have cleared her from 
this charge. We are told that her first husband was 
a man of such heinous \ices that even a prostitute 
or a common slave could not have put up \^'ith them. 
If I describe them, I shall mar the heroism of the 
woman, who preferred to bear the blame of separa- 
tion rather than to expose to shame the man who 
was one body ^\ith her, and thus reveal the stains 
upon his character. This only I will say, and it is 
a plea sufficient to excuse a chaste matron and a 
Christian wife. The Lord ordained that a wife 

3^3 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

fomicationis et, si dimissa fuerit, manere innuptam. 
Quidquid viris iubetur, hoc consequenter redundat ad 
feminas. Neque enim adultera uxor dimittenda est 
et vir moechus tenendus. Si ' qui meretrici iungitur, 
unum corpus facit,' ergo et, quae scortatori inpuroque 
sociatur, unmn cum eo corpus efficitur. Aliae sunt 
leges Caesarum, aliae Christi ; aliud Papinianus, 
aliud Paulus noster praecipit. Apud illos in viris 
pudicitiae frena laxantur et solo stupro atque adulterio 
condemnato passim per lupanaria et ancillulas libido 
permittitur, quasi culpam dignitas faciat, non 
voluptas. Apud nos, quod non licet feminis, aeque 
non licet viris et eadem servitus pari condicione 
censetur. Dimisit ergo, ut aiunt, vitiosum; dimisit 
illius et illius criminis noxium ; dimisit — paene dixi, 
quod clamante vicinia uxor non sola prodidit. Sin 
autem arguitur, quare repudiato marito non innupta 
permanserit, facile culpam fatebor, dum tamen 
referam necessitatem. ' Melius est,' inquit apostolus, 
' nubere quam uri.' Adulescentula erat, viduitatem 
suam servare non poterat. Videbat aliam legem in 
membris suis repugnantem legi mentis suae et se 
vinctam atque captivam ad coitum trahi. Melius 
arbitrata est aperte confiteri inbecillitatem suam et 
umbram quandam miserabilis subire coniugii quam 



^ 1 Corinthians, vi. 16. 

2 The great Roman jurist, put to death by Caracalla. 

^ 1 Corinthians, vii. 9. 



LETTER LXXVII 

must not be put away except for fornication, and 
that, if she was put away, she must remain un- 
married. A command that is given to men applies 
logically also to women. It cannot be that an 
adulterous \\'ife should be put away and an unfaithful 
husband retained. If ' he which is joined to a harlot 
is one body,' ^ she who is joined to a filthy whore- 
monger is one body with him also. The laws of 
Caesar are different from the laws of Christ : Papinian^ 
commands one thing, our Paul another. Among 
the Romans men's unchastity goes unchecked ; 
seduction and adultery are condemned, but free 
permission is given to lust to range the brothels and 
to have slave girls, as though it were a person's 
rank and not the sensual pleasure that constituted 
the offence. With us what is unlawful for women is 
equally unla\%'ful for men, and as both sexes serve 
God they are bound by the same conditions, Fabiola, 
as men say, put away a \-icious husband; she put 
away a man who was guilty of this and that crime ; 
she put him away because — I almost mentioned 
the scandal which the whole neighbourhood pro- 
claimed but which his wife alone refused to reveal. 
If she is blamed because after repudiating her hus- 
band she did not remain unmarried, I will readily 
admit her fault, pro^■ided that I may put in the 
plea of necessity. ' It is better,' says the apostle, 
' to marry than to burn.' ^ She was a young weak 
woman and she could not remain a widow. She 
saw another law in her members warring against the 
law of her mind, and she felt herself dragged hke 
a chained captive into carnal intercourse. She 
thought it better to confess her weakness openly 
and to accept the dark stain that such a lamentable 

315 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

sub gloria univirae exercere meretricium. Idem 
apostolus vult viduas ' adulescentulas nubere, filios 
procreare, nuUam dare occasionem maledicti gratia,' 
Et protinus, cur hoc velit, exponit : ' lam enim 
quaedam abierunt retro Satanas.' Igitur et Fabia, 
quia persuaserat sibi et putabat virum iure a se 
dimissum nee evangelii vigorem noverat, in quo 
nubendi universa causatio viventibus viris feminis 
Christianis amputatur, dum multa diaboli vitat 
vulnera, unum incauta vulnus accepit. 

4. Sed quid ego in abolitis et antiquis moror 
quaerens excusare culpam, cuius paenitentiam ipsa 
confessa est ? Quis hoc crederet, ut post mortem 
secundi viri in semet reversa, quo tempore solent 
viduae neglegentes iugo servitutis excusso agere se 
liberius, adire balneas, volitare per plateas, vultus 
circumferre meretricios, saccum indueret, errorem 
publice fateretur, et tota urbe spectante Romana 
ante diem paschae in basilica quondam Laterani, qui 
Caesariano truncatus est gladio, staret in ordine 
paenitentum, episcopo et presbyteris et omni populo 
conlacrimanti sparsum crinem, ora lurida, squalidas 
manus, sordida colla submitteret ? Quae peccata 
fletus iste non purget ? Quas inveteratas maculas 
haec lamenta non abluant ? Petrus trinam nega- 



1 1 Timothy, v. 14, 15. 

^ A Roman senator who conspired against Nero. 



316 



LETTER LXXVII 

marriage would bring, rather than to claim to be 
the vrife of one husband and under that disguise to 
ply the harlot's trade. The same apostle expresses 
his wish that ' young widows should marry, bear 
children, and give no handle to calumny,' And 
then at once he gives his reason : ' For some are 
already turned aside after Satan.' ^ Fabiola therefore 
had convinced herself, and thought that she was 
justified in putting away her husband. She did not 
know the Gospel's strict ordinance, which precludes 
Christian women from marrying again in their first 
husband's lifetime, whatever their case may be. 
Thus she evaded the other assaults of the devil, but 
this one wound from him she un^^•ittingly received. 
But why do I hnger over the forgotten past, 
seeking to excuse a fault for which she herself con- 
fessed her penitence ? ^Vho would believe that 
after the death of her second husband, at a time 
when widows, having shaken off the yoke of slavery, 
are wont to grow careless and indulge in licence, 
frequenting the pubUc baths, flitting to and fro in 
the squares, showing their harlot faces everywhere — 
who, I say, would believe that it was then that she 
came to herself, put on sackcloth and made public 
confession of error. On the eve of passover, in the 
presence of all Rome, she took her stand among the 
other penitents in the hall of that Lateranus who 
perished formerly by Caesar's sword.^ There before 
bishop, presbyters, and weeping populace she ex- 
posed to view her dishevelled hair, wan face, soiled 
hands, and dust-stained neck. What sins would 
not such lamentation purge away ? WTiat stains 
so deep that these tears would not wash them out ? 
By a threefold confession Peter annulled his three- 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

tionem trina confessione delevit. Aaron sacrilegium 
et conflatum ex auro vituli caput fraternae correxere 
preces. David, sancti et mansuetissimi viri, homi- 
cidium pariter et adulterium septem dierum emenda- 
vit fames. lacebat in terra, volutabatur in cinere et 
oblitus regiae potestatis lumen quaerebat in tenebris 
illumque tantum respiciens, quern ofFenderat, lacri- 
mabili voce dicebat : ' Tibi soli peccavi et malum 
coram te feci,' et : ' Redde mihi laetitiam salutaris 
tui et spiritu principali confirma me.' Atque ita 
factum est, ut, qui me prius docuerat virtutibus suis, 
quomodo stans non caderem, doceret per paeniten- 
tiam, quomodo cadens resurgerem. Quid tam 
inpium legimus inter reges quam Achab, de quo 
scriptura dicit : ' Non fuit alius talis ut Achab, qui 
venumdatus est, ut faceret malum in conspectu 
domini.' Hie, cum pro sanguine Nabuthae cor- 
reptus fuisset ab Helia et audisset iram domini per 
prophetam : ' Occidisti, insuper et possedisti,' et : 
' Ecce ego inducam super te mala et demetam 
posteriora tua,' et reliqua, ' Scidit vestimenta sua et 
operuit cilicio carnem suam ieiunavitque in sacco et 
ambulabat demisso capite. Tunc factus est sermo 
domini ad Heliam Thesbiten dicens : " Nonne vidisti 
humilitatem Achab coram me ? Quia ergo humili- 
tatus est in timore mei, non inducam malum in 
diebus eius." ' O felix paenitentia, quae ad se Dei 
traxit oculos, quae furentem -sententiam domini 
confesso errore mutavit ! Hoc idem et Manassen in 
Paralipomenon et Nineven fecisse legimus in pro- 



1 Psalm li. 6. 2 pgalm li, 14. 

^ 1 Kings, xxi. 25 seq. * 2 Chron., xxxiii. 12. 

* Jonah, iii. 5-10. 

318 



LETTER LXXVTI 

fold denial. Aaron did a sacrilegious act by fashion 
ing a calf's head in gold ; but his brother's prayers 
made amends. David, that saintly and most merciful 
man, committed both murder and adultery ; but 
he atoned for it by fasting for seven days. He lay 
on the ground, he grovelled in the ashes, he forgot 
his royal power, he sought for light in the darkness. 
He turned his eyes only to Him whom he had offended 
and cried ^Wth a lamentable voice : ' Against thee, 
thee only have I sinned, and done this e\il in thy 
sight,' ^ and, ' Restore unto me the joy of thy salva- 
tion and uphold me with thy free spirit.' ^ So it 
came about that he who by his virtues taught me 
first how I might stand and not fall, by his penitence 
taught me how if I fell I might rise again. Do we 
read of any among the kings so wicked as Ahab, of 
whom the Scripture says : ' There was none hke 
unto Ahab which did sell himself to work wickedness 
in the sight of the Lord ' ? ^ But when he was re- 
buked by Elijah for shedding Naboth's blood and 
heard the prophet threaten him with God's wrath : 
' Thou hast killed and taken possession : behold I 
will bring evil upon thee and will take away thy 
posterity,' and so on, then : * he rent his clothes, 
and put sackcloth upon his flesh and fasted in sack- 
cloth and went softly. Then came the word of the 
Lord to Elijah the Tishbite, saying : " Seest thou 
how Ahab humbleth himself before me ? Because 
he humbleth himself before me, I \vill not bring 
the e\'il in his days." ' O happy penitence, which 
drew God's eyes to itself, and by a confession of 
error changed the sentence of the Lord's wrath ! 
The same conduct is attributed to Manasseh in the 
Chronicles,* to Nineveh ^ in the book of the prophet 

319 



SELECT LETfERS OF ST. JEROxME 

pheta, publicanum quoque in evangelic, e quibus 
primus non solum indulgentiam, sed et regnum 
recipere meruit, alius inpendentem Dei fregit iram, 
tertius pectus verberans pugnis oculos non levabat ad 
caelum et multo iustificatior recessit humili con- 
fessione vitiorum quam superba pharisaeus iactatione 
virtutum, Non est loci huius, ut paenitentiam 
praedicem et quasi contra Montanum Novatumque 
scribens dicam illam hostiam domini esse placabilem 
et sacrificium Deo spiritum contribulatum et : ' Malo 
paenitentiam peccatoris quam mortem,' et : ' Ex- 
surge, exsurge, Hierusalem,' et multa alia, quae 
prophetarum clangunt tubae. 

5. Hoc unum loquar, quod et legentibus utile sit 
et praesenti causae conveniat. Non est confusa 
dominum in terris et ille eam non confundetur in 
caelo. Aperuit cunctis vulnus suum et decolore in 
corpore cicatricem flens Roma conspexit. Dissuta 
habuit latera, nudum caput, clausum os, Non est 
ingressa ecclesiam domini, sed extra castra cum 
Maria, sorore Moysi, separata consedit, ut, quam 
sacerdos eiecerat, ipse revocaret. Descendit de 
solio deliciarum suarum, accepit molam, fecit farinam 
et discalciatis pedibus transivit fluenta lacrimarum. 
Sedit super carbonis ignis ; hi ei fuere in adiutorium. 
Faciem, per quam secundo viro placuerat, verberabat, 
oderat gemmas, linteamina videre non poterat, orna- 

1 S. Luke, xviii, 13. 

2 Founders of heretical sects in the second and third 
centuries. 

3 Ezekiel, xviii. 23. * Baruch, v. 5. 

320 



LETTER LXXVII 

Jonah, and to the pubUcan in the Gospel.^ The 
first not only earned God's pardon but regained his 
kingdom ; the second broke the force of God's 
impending anger ; the third smiting his breast \\'ith 
his fists would not lift his eyes to heaven, and yet 
by the humble confession of his faults he went away 
more justified than the Pharisee with his arrogant 
boasting of his virtues. This, however, is not the 
place to preach penitence, or to say of it, as though 
I were writing against Montanus and Xovatus,- that 
it is a victim well pleasing to the Lord and that a 
broken spirit is God's sacrifice. Nor will I quote 
the words : ' I prefer the repentance of a sinner 
rather than his death,' ' or ' Arise, arise, O 
Jerusalem,' * or any other of the many sayings 
which are noised abroad by the trumpets of the 
prophets. 

This one thing I will say, for it is both useful to 
my readers and pertinent to the present case. Fabiola 
was not ashamed of the Lord on earth, and He will 
not be ashamed of her in heaven. She laid bare 
her wound to all, and Rome beheld >vith tears the 
scar upon her hvid body. She uncovered her limbs, 
bared her head, and closed her mouth. She did 
not enter God's church but Uke Miriam, the sister 
of Moses, sat apart outside the camp, until the priest 
who had cast her out should call her back again. 
She came do\vn from her throne of luxury, she took 
up the millstone and ground meal, ^vith unshod 
feet she passed through rivers of tears. She sat 
upon coals of fire, and these became her aid. She 
beat the face by which she had won her second 
husband's love, she abhorred all jewelry, she could 
not bear even to look upon fine linen, she shrank 

321 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

menta fugiebat. Sic dolebat, quasi adulterium com- 
misisset et multis inpendiis medicaminum unum 
vulnus sanare cupiebat. 

6. Diu morati sumus in paenitentia, in qua velut in 
vadosis locis resedimus, ut maior nobis et absque ullo 
inpedimento se laudum eius campus aperiret. Re- 
cepta sub oculis omnis ecclesiae communione quid 
fecit ? Scilicet in die bona malorum oblita est et 
post naufragium rursum temptare voluit pericula 
navigandi ? Quin potius omnem censum, quern 
habere poterat — erat autem amplissimus et respon- 
dens generi eius — dilapidavit ac vendidit et in pecunia 
congregatum usibus pauperum praeparavit. Et 
primo omnium voa-oKOfielov instituit, in quo aegro- 
tantes colligeret de plateis et consumpta languoribus 
atque inedia miserorum membra refoveret. De- 
scribam nunc ego diversas hominum calamitates, 
truncas nares, efFossos oculos, semiustos pedes, 
luridas manus, tumentes alvos, exile femur, crura 
turgentia et de exesis ac putridis carnibus vermiculos 
bullientes ? Quotiens morbo regio et paedore con- 
fectos humeris suis portavit ? Quotiens lavit puru- 
lentam vulnerum saniem, quam alius aspicere non 
audebat? Praebebat cibos propria manu et spirans 
cadaver sorbitiunculis inrigabat. Scio multos divites 
et religiosos ob stomachi angustiam exercere huiusce 
modi misericordiam per aliena ministeria et clementes 
322 



LETTEK XVII 

from all adornment. If she had committed adultery 
her grief could not have been greater, and she went 
to the expense of many remedies in her eagerness 
to cure one wound. 

I have lingered long in describing Fabiola's peni- 
tence, and my barque has grounded in shallow 
waters ; but I wished to open up a wider and un- 
impeded field for her praises. When she was re- 
stored to communion before the eyes of the whole 
church, what did she do ? Did she forget her sorrows 
in the midst of happiness, and determine after being 
shipwTecked to face once more the dangers of the 
main ? Nay, she preferred to break up and sell all 
that she could lay hands on of her property — ^it 
was a large one and suitable to her rank— and when 
she had turned it into money she disposed of every- 
thing for the benefit of the poor. First of all she 
founded an infirmary and gathered into it sufferers 
from the streets, giving their poor bodies worn with 
sickness and hunger all a nurse's care. Need I 
describe here the diverse troubles from which human 
beings suffer, the maimed noses, the lost eyes, the 
scorched feet, the leprous arms, the swollen bellies, 
the shrunken thighs, the dropsical legs, and the 
diseased flesh alive with hungry worms ? How 
often did she carry on her own shoulders poor filthy 
wretches tortured by epilepsy I How often did she 
wash away the purulent matter from wounds which 
others could not even endure to look upon ! She 
gave food with her own hand, and even when a man 
was but a breathing corpse, she would moisten his 
Ups with drops of water. I know that many wealthy 
and devout persons by reason of their weak stomachs 
carry on this work of mercy by the agency of others, 

323 
y2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

esse pecunia, non manu. Quos equidem non reprobo 
et teneritudinem animi nequaquam interpreter 
infidelitatero ; sed, sicut inbecillitati stomachi 
veniam tribuo, sic perfectae mentis ardorem in 
caelum laudibus fero. Magn^ fides ista contemnit ; 
scit, quid in Lazaro dives purpuratus aliquando non 
fecerit, quali superba mens retributione damnata sit. 
Ille, quern despicimus, quem videre non possumus, 
ad cuius intuitum vomitus nobis erumpit, nostri 
similis est, de eodem nobiscum formatus luto, isdem 
conpactus dementis. Quidquid patitur, et nos pati 
possumus. Vulnera eius aestimemus propria et 
omnis animi in alterum duritia dementi in nosmet 
ipsos cogitatione frangetur. 

* Non, mihi si linguae centum sint oraque centum, 
Ferrea vox. 
Omnia morborum percurrere nomina possim,' 

quae Fabiola in tanta miserorum refrigeria commu- 
tavit, ut multi pauperum sani languentibus inviderent. 
Quamquam ilia simili liberalitate erga clericos et 
monachos ac virgines fuerit — quod monasterium non 
illius opibus sustentatum est? Quem nudum et 
clinicum non Fabiolae vestimenta texerunt? In 
quos se indigentium eius non efFudit praeceps et 
festina largitio ? Angusta misericordiae Roma fuit ; 
peragrabat ergo insulas. Etruscum mare Vul- 
scorumque provinciam et reconditos curvorum litorum 
sinus, in quibus monachorum consistunt chori, vel 
proprio corpore vel transmissa per fideles ac sanctos 
viros munificentia circuibat. 

7. Unde repente et contra opinionem omnium 

1 Virgil, Aeneid, VI. 625. 
324 



LETTER LXXVII 

and show mercy with the purse, not with the hand. 
I do not blame nor do I by any means construe their 
lack of fortitude as lack of faith. But while I excuse 
their weakness, I extol to the skies the ardent zeal 
that perfect courage possesses. A great faith 
makes hght of discomfort : it knows the retribution 
that fell upon the rich man clothed in purple, who 
in his pride refused Lazarus aid. The sufferer 
whom we despise and cannot bear to behold, whose 
very aspect turns our stomachs, is a man like our- 
selves, formed of the same clay, made out of the 
same elements. Whatever he suffers we may 
possibly suffer also. Let us regard his wounds as 
our own, and then all our lack of sympathy for others 
vriW be overcome by our pity for ourselves. 

' Had I a hundred tongues, a hundred mouths 
With voice of brass, I could not tell the names '^ 

of all the maladies which Fabiola treated. She was, 
indeed, such a comforter that many poor people 
who were well fell to envying the sick. Not but 
what she showed the same generosity to the clergy, 
monks, and \irgins. What monastery was there 
which her purse did not aid ? What naked or bed- 
ridden sufferer did she not supply ynth clothes ? On 
what indigent person did she not pour out her swift 
and lavish donations? Rome was not large enough 
for her compassionate kindness. She went from 
island to island, and travelled round the Etruscan 
Sea, and through the Volscian province, with its 
lonely curving bays, where bands of monks have 
taken up their home, bestowing her bounty either 
in person or by the agency of holy men of the faith. 
Then suddenly, and to every one's surprise, she 

325 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

Hierosolymam navigavit, ubi multorum excepta 
concursu nostro parumper usa est hospitio ; cuius 
societatis recordans videor mihi adhuc videre, quam 
vidi. lesu bone, quo ilia fervore, quo studio intenta 
erat divinis voluminibus et veluti quandam famem 
satiare desiderans per prophetas, evangelia psal- 
mosque currebat quaestiones proponens et solutas 
recondens in scriniolo pectoris sui ! Nee vero satiaba- 
tur audiendi cupidine, sed addens scientiam addebat 
dolorem, et, quasi oleum flammae adiceres, maioris 
ardoris fomenta capiebat. Quodam die, cum in 
manibus Moysi Numeros teneremus, et me verecunde 
rogaret, quid sibi vellet nominum tanta congeries, cur 
singulae tribus in aliis atque in aliis locis varie 
iungerentur, quomodo Balaam ariolus sic futura 
Christi mysteria prophetarit, ut nullus propemodum 
prophetarum tam aperte de eo vaticinatus sit, 
respondi, ut potui, et visus sum interrogationi eius 
satisfacere. Revolvens ergo librum pervenit ad eum 
locum, ubi catalogus describitur omnium mansionum, 
per quas de Aegypto egrediens populus pervenit 
usque ad fluenta lordanis. Cumque causas et 
rationes quaereret singularum, in quibusdam haesi- 
tavi, in aliis inofFenso cucurri pede, in plerisque 
simpliciter ignorantiam confessus sum. Tunc vero 
magis coepit urguere et, quasi mihi non liceret 
nescire, quod nescio, expostulare ac se indignam 
tantis mysteriis dicer e. Quid plura ? Extorsit mihi 

1 Numbers, xxiv. 17 ff. 
326 



LETTER LXXVII 

sailed to Jerusalem, where she was welcomed by a 
great concourse of people, and for a short time was 
ray guest. When I remember that meeting, I 
seem to see her still as I saw her then. Blessed 
Jesus, with what fervour and zeal did she study the 
sacred volumes ! In her eagerness to satisfy her 
hunger, she ran through the prophets, the gospels 
and the psalms ; she suggested questions and stored 
up my answers in her heart's repository. Nor did 
her eagerness to hear ever bring ■s\ith it satiety ; 
increasing her knowledge she also increased her 
sorrow, and as though oil were cast upon fire she 
suppUed fuel ever for a more burning zeal. One 
day we were occupied with Moses' Numbers, and 
she modestly questioned me as to the meaning of 
its mass of names. Why was it, she asked, that 
individual tribes were grouped in so many different 
ways in different places, and how did it happen that 
the soothsayer Balaam in prophesying the future 
mysteries of Christ foretold His coming more plainly 
than almost any of the prophets.^ I replied as best 
I could, and I think I satisfied her inquiries. So 
she unrolled the book further, and came to the 
passage where the Ust is given of all the halting 
places by which the people on leaving Egypt made 
their way to the river Jordan. She asked me the 
meaning and the origin of each name, and in some 
cases I hesitated, in others I hurried through without 
stumbling, in very many I had frankly to confess 
ignorance. Thereupon she began to press me 
harder, expostulating with me as though it were 
not allowed me to be in ignorance of what I do not 
know, and declaring that she herself was unworthy 
of understanding such mysteries. WTiy say more ? 

327 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

negandi verecundia, ut proprium ei opus huiusce 
modi disputatiunculae pollicerer, quod usque in 
presens tempus, ut nunc intellego, domini voluntate 
dilatum redditur memoriae illius, ut sacerdotalibus 
prioris ad se voluminis induta vestibus per mundi 
huius solitudinem gaudeat se ad terram repromissionis 
aliquando venisse. 

8. Verum, quod coepimus, persequamur. Quae- 
rentibus nobis dignum tantae feminae habitaculum, 
cum ita solitudinem cuperet, ut diversorio Mariae 
carere nollet, ecce subito discurrentibus nuntiis 
oriens totus intremuit, ab ultima Maeotide inter 
glacialem Tanain et Massagetarum immanes populos, 
ubi Caucasi rupibus feras gentes Alexandri claustra 
cohibent, erupisse Hunorum examina, quae pernicibus 
equis hue illucque volitantia caedis pariter ac 
terroris cuncta conplerent. Aberat tunc Romanus 
exercitus et bellis civiUbus in Italia tenebatur. 
Hanc gentem Herodotus refert sub Dario, rege 
Medorum, viginti annis Orientem tenuisse captivum 
et ab Aegyptiis atque Aethiopibus annuum exegisse 
vectigal. Avertat lesus ab orbe Romano tales ultra 
bestias ! Insperati ubique aderant et famam cele- 
ritate vincentes non reUgioni, non dignitatibus, non 
aetati, non vagienti miserebantur infantiae. Coge- 
bantur mori, qui dudum vivere coeperant et nesci- 



^ The first treatise dedicated to Fabiola was on the vest- 
ments worn by the Jewish priests, the second on the places 
passed by the chosen people on their journey from Egypt to 
the Promised Land. 

* The Caspian Gates. 

' Herodotus, I. 104. He calls them ^icvdai. 

328 



LETTER LXXVII 

I was ashamed to refuse her, and she compelled me 
to promise a special work on this subject for her 
use. Up till this moment I have deferred WTiting 
it; but my delay, I now see, was God's ^\^ll, and it 
is now consecrated to her memory. As a previous 
treatise addressed to her clothed her in priestly vest- 
ments, so now she may rejoice that she has passed 
through the wilderness of this world and come at 
last to the land of promise.^ 

But let me continue the task I ha%^e begun. While 
I was seeking a dwelling suitable for so great a lady, 
whose desire for solitude included an unwilUngness not 
to \-isit the place where Mary once lodged, suddenly 
messengers flew this way and that and the whole 
Eastern world trembled. We were told that swarms 
of Huns had poured forth from the distant Sea of 
Azov, midway between the icy river Tanais and the 
savage tribes of the Massagetae, where the gates 
of Alexander ^ keep back the barbarians behind the 
rocky Caucasus. Flying hither and thither on their 
swift steeds, said our informants, these invaders were 
filhng the whole world with bloodshed and panic. 
At that time the Roman army was absent, being 
kept in Italy by reason of ciWl war. Of this race 
Herodotus ^ tells us that under Darius, king of the 
Medes, they held the East captive for twenty years, 
and exacted a yearly tribute from the Egyptians 
and the Ethiopians. May Jesus save the Roman 
world from such wild beasts in the future ! Every- 
where their approach was unexpected, they out- 
stripped rumour by their speed, and they spared 
neither religion nor rank nor age ; nay, even for 
wailing infants they had no pity. Children were 
forced to die, who had only just begun to live, and 

329 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

entes malum suum inter hostium manus ac tela 
ridebant. Consonus inter omnes rumor petere eos 
Hierosolymam et ob nimiam auri cupiditatem ad 
banc urbem concurrere. Muri neglecti pacis incuria 
sarciebantur Antiochiae ; Tyrus volens a terra 
abrumpere insulam quaerebat antiquam. Tunc et 
nos conpulsi sumus parare naves, esse in litore, 
adventum hostium praecavere et saevientibus ventis 
magis barbaros metuere quam naufragium, non tam 
propriae saluti quam virginum castimoniae provi- 
dentes. Erat in illo tempore quaedam apud nos 
dissensio et barbarorum pugnam domestica bella 
superabant. Nos in Oriente tenuerunt iam fixae 
sedes et inveteratum locorum sanctorum desiderium ; 
ilia, quia tota in sarcinis erat et in omni orbe pere- 
grina, reversa est ad patriam, ut ibi pauper viveret, 
ubi dives fuerat, manens in alieno, quae multos 
prius hospites habuit, et — ne sermonem longius 
traham — in conspectu Romanae urbis pauperibus 
erogaret, quod ilia teste vendiderat. 

9. Nos hoc tantum dolemus, quod pretiosissimum 
de Sanctis locis monile perdidimus. Recepit Roma, 
quod amiserat, ac procax et maledica lingua gentilium 
oculorum testimonio confutata est. Laudent ceteri 
misericordiam eius, humilitatem, fidem : ego ardorem 
animi plus laudabo. Librum, quo Heliodorum 
quondam iuvenis ad heremum cohortatus sum, 

1 Cf. Appendix II, p. 498 ff. 
2 At Bethlehem. Cf. Introd., p. ix. =* Letter XIV. 

33° 



LETTER LXXVII 

in ignorance of their fate smiled amid the brandished 
weapons of the foe. The general report was that 
they were making for Jerusalem, and that it was 
their excessive greed for gold that urged them to 
flock to that city. The walls of Antioch, neglected 
in the careless days of peace, were hastily repaired. 
Tyre, desirous of cutting herself off from the land, 
sought again her ancient island. We too were 
compelled to prepare ships, and to wait on the sea- 
shore as a precaution against the enemy's arrival; 
to fear the barbarians more than shipwreck, how- 
ever fierce the winds might be ; for we had to 
think not so much of our own lives as of the chastity 
of our virgins. At that time also there was a certain 
dissension amongst us,^ and our domestic quarrels 
seemed more important than any fighting with 
barbarians. I myself clung to my fixed abode in the 
East,2 and could not give up my inveterate longing 
for the Holy Land. Fabiola, however, who only 
had her travelling baggage and was a stranger in 
every land, returned to her native city to live in 
poverty where she had been rich, to lodge in the 
house of another, she who had once entertained 
many guests, and — not to prolong my story unduly — 
to pay over to the poor before the eyes of Rome all 
that she had sold with Rome for witness. 

This only do I grieve for, that we in the Holy 
Land lost in her a most precious jewel. Rome 
recovered what she had lost, and the shameless 
tongue of slander was confuted by the testimony 
of the heathens' own eyes. Let others praise her 
pity, her humility, her faith : I will rather extol the 
ardour of her soul. The treatise ^ in which as a 
young man I urged Heliodorus to be a hermit she 

331 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

tenebat memoriter, et Romana cernens moenia 
inclusam se esse plangebat. Oblita sexus, fragili- 
tatis inmemor ac solitudinis tantum cupida ibi erat, 
ubi animo morabatur. Non poterat teneri consiliis 
amicorum : ita ex urbe quasi de vinculis gestiebat 
erumpere. Dispensationem pecuniae et cautam 
distributionem genus infidelitatis vocabat. Non 
aliis elemosynam tribuere, sed suis pariter efFusis 
ipsa pro Christo stipes optabat accipere. Sic festina- 
bat, sic inpatiens erat morarum, ut illam crederes 
profecturam. Itaque, dum semper paratur, mors 
eam invenire non potuit inparatam. 

10. Inter laudes feminae subito mihi Pammachius 
meus exoritur. Paulina dormit, ut ipse vigilet; 
praecedit maritum, ut Christo famulum derelinquat. 
Hie heres uxoris et hereditatis alii possessores. 
Certabant vir et femina, quis in portu Abrahae 
tabernaculum figeret, et haec erat inter utrumque 
contentio, quis humanitate superaret. Vicit uterque 
et uterque superatus est. Ambo se victos et victores 
fatentur, dum, quod alter cupiebat, uterque perfecit. 
lungunt opes, sociant voluntates, ut, quod aemulatio 
dissipatura erat, concordia cresceret. Necdum 
dictum, iam factum : emitur hospitium et ad hospi- 
tium turba concurrit. * Non est ' enira ' labor in 
lacob nee dolor in Israhel.' Adducunt maria, quos 
in gremio suo terra suscipiat. Mittit Roma pro- 
perantes, quos navigaturos litus molle confoveat. 

1 Numbers, xxiii. 21. 



LETTER LXXVII 

knew by heart, and when she looked upon the walls 
of Rome she complained that she was their prisoner. 
Forgetful of her sex, unmindful of her frailty, she 
craved only for soUtude and was in truth where her 
soul hngered. Her friends' advice could not restrain 
her, so anxious was she to escape from the fetters 
of Rome. She said that to weigh out money and 
distribute it carefully showed a lack of faith. She 
desired not to hand over the task of almsgiving to 
others, but to spend all that she possessed, and then 
herself to receive a dole in Christ's name. In such 
haste was she, and so impatient of delay, that you 
might have thought her always on the brink of 
departure. So, as she was ever making ready, death 
could not find her unprepared. 

As I sing her praises, my dear Pammachius sud- 
denly rises before me. Pauhna sleeps that he may 
keep vigil ; she has gone before her husband, that 
she may leave him behind to serve Christ. He was 
his wife's heir, but others now possess that inheritance. 
A man and a woman contended for the privilege of 
setting up Abraham's tent in the harbour of Rome ; 
and this was the struggle between the two, who 
should be first in that contest of kindness. Each 
won and each lost. Both confess themselves victors 
and vanquished, for what each desired they carried out 
together. They join purses and combine their plans, 
that harmony might increase what rivalry would have 
wasted. Hardly said, the thing was done ; a hostel 
was purchased and a crowd flocked to it for hospitaUty ; 
for ' There is no more travail in Jacob nor distress 
in Israel.' ^ The seas brought in travellers for the 
land to welcome. Rome sent others, who hastened 
to enjoy the comforts of the mild shore before they 

333 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

Quod Publius semel fecit in insula Melita erga unum 
apostolum et — ne contradictioni locum tribuam — in 
una nave, hoc isti et frequenter faciunt et in plures. 
Nee solum inopum necessitas sustentatur, sed prona 
in omnes munificentia aliquid et habentibus providet. 
Xenodochium in portu Romano situm totus pariter 
mundus audivit. Sub una aestate didicit Britania, 
quod Aegyptus et Parthus agnoverant vere. 

1 1 . Quod scriptum est : ' Timentibus dominum 
omnia cooperantur in bonum,' in obitu tantae feminae 
vidimus conprobatum. Quodam praesagio futurorum 
ad multos scripserat monachos, ut venirent et grave 
onore laborantem absolverent faceretque sibi de 
iniquo mammona amicos, qui eam reciperent in 
aeterna tabernacula. Venerunt, amici facti sunt : 
dormivit ilia — quod voluit — et deposita tandem 
sarcina levior volavit ad caelos. Quantum haberet 
viventis Fabiolae Roma miraculum, in mortua 
demonstravit. Necdum spiritum exalaverat necdum 
debitam Christo reddiderat animam, 

* Et iam fama volans, tanti praenuntia luctus,' 

totius urbis populos exequias congregabat. Sona- 
bant psalmi et aurata tecta templorum reboans in 
sublime alleluia quatiebat. 

' Hie iuvenum chorus, ille senum, qui carmine laudes 
Femineas et facta ferant.* 



^ Acts, xxviii. 7 : ' who received us, and lodged us three 
days courteously.' 

* Apparently this means 'that no one may criticize me as 
exaggerating.' * The regular name for an inn, ^fi oSoxf^ov. 

* Romans, viii. 28. Jerome substitutes ' fear ' for ' love.' 

6 St. Luke, xvi. 9. « Virgil, Ae7ieid, XI. 139. 

7 Virgil, Aeneid, VIII. 287. 

334 



LETTER LXXVII 

set sail. What Publius^ did once in the island of 
Malta for a single apostle and — not to leave room 
for contradiction ^ — for a single ship, they did many 
times for many men. Not only did they relieve 
the wants of the destitute; their generosity was 
at every one's service and proxided even for those 
who possessed something themselves. The whole 
world heard that a Home for Strangers ^ had been 
founded in the port of Rome, and Britain knew in 
the summer what Egypt and the Parthians had 
learned in the spring. 

It is wTitten : * All things work together for good 
to them that fear God,' * and in the death of the 
noble lady the words have been proved true. She 
had a presentiment of what was to happen, and had 
written to several monks, that they might come and 
relieve her from the hea\T burden under which she 
groaned, and that she might make to herself friends 
of the mammon of unrighteousness, to receive her 
into everlasting habitations.^ They came, and were 
welcomed as friends ; she fell asleep, as she had 
\vished, and ha\ing at length rid herself of her 
burden, soared more lightly to heaven. How great 
had been the wonder of Fabiola's life Rome showed 
when she was dead. She had scarcely drawn her 
last breath and paid the debt of her soul to Christ, 
when 

' Flying rumour heralding such woe ' * 

brought the peoples of the whole city to attend her 
funeral. Psalms re-echoed loudly and cries of 
' Alleluia ' shook the gilded roofs of the temples. 



' Young men and old unite in song to praise 
A woman and her fame to heaven raise,' ' 



335 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

Non sic Furius de Gallis, non Papirius de Samnitibus, 
non Scipio de Numantia, non Pompeius de Ponti 
gentibus triumphavit. Illi corpora vicere, haec 
spiritales nequitias subiugavit. Audio : praece- 
dentium turmas et catervatim exequias eius multi- 
tudinem fluctuantem non plateae, non porticus, non 
inminentia desuper tecta capere poterant pros- 
pectantes. Tunc suos in unum populos Roma 
conspexit : favebant sibi omnes in gloria paenitentis. 
Nee mirum, si de eius salute homines exultarent, de 
cuius conversione angeli laetabantur in caelo. 

12. Hoc tibi, Fabiola, ingenii mei senile munus, 
has officiorum inferias dedi. Laudavimus virgines, 
viduas ac maritatas, quarum semper fuere Candida 
vestimenta, quae ' sequuntur agnum, quocumque 
vadit.' Felix praeconium, quod nulla totius vitae 
sorde maculatur! Procul livor, facessat invidia. Si 
pater familias bonus est, quare oculus noster malus ? 
Quae inciderat in latrones, Christi humeris reportata 
est. ' Multae mansiones sunt apud patrem. Ubi 
abundavit peccatum, superabundavit gratia.' Cui 
plus dimittitur, plus amat. 



1 Letters LXXVII and LXXVIII. * Revelation, xiv. 4. 
» St. Matthew, xx. 15. * St. Luke x. 30, xv. 5. 

* St. John, xiv. 2. " Romans, v. 20. 

■> St. Luke, vii. 47. 



3Z(> 



LETTER LXXVII 

Not so gloriously did Furius triumph over the 
Gauls, Papirius over the Samnites, Scipio over 
Numantia, or Pompey over the peoples of the Black 
Sea. They conquered physical strength, she over- 
came spiritual iniquities. I hear it still : the crowds 
that went before the bier, the swaying multitude 
that attended her obsequies in throngs, no streets, 
no colonnades could contain, no overhanging roofs 
could hold the eager onlookers. On that day Rome 
saw all her peoples gathered together. Every one 
flattered himself that he had a share in the glory of 
her penitence. No wonder that men exulted in her 
salvation, seeing that the angels in heaven rejoiced 
over her conversion. 

This,^ the best gift of my aged powers, I present 
to you, Fabiola, as a funeral offering of respect. I 
have praised virgins, ^vidows and married women 
who have kept their vestments always white, * who 
follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.' ^ Blessed 
indeed is the praise of her whose life has been stained 
by no foulness. Let envy hold aloof, let jealousy 
be silent. If the father of the house be good, why 
should our eye be evil ? ^ She who fell among thieves 
has been carried home upon Christ's shoulders.* 
' In our father's house there are many mansions.' ^ 
* Where sin hath abounded, grace hath much more 
abounded.' ^ To whom more is forgiven, the same 
loveth more.' 



337 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

CVII 

Ad Laetam de Institutione Filiae 

1. Beatus apostolus Paulus scribens ad Corinthios 
et rudem Christi ecclesiam sacris instruens disciplinis 
inter cetera mandata hoc quoque posuit dicens : 
' Si qua mulier habet virum i nfidele m et hie consentit 
habitare cum ea, ne dimittat virum. Sanctificatus 
est enim vir infidehs in uxore fideh et sanctificata est 
mulier infidelis in fratre. Alioquin filii vestri 
inmundi essent, nunc autem sancti sunt.' Si cui 
forte hactenus videbantur nimium disciplinae vincula 
laxata et praeceps indulgentia praeceptoris, con- 
sideret domum patris . tui, clarissimi quidem et 
eruditissimi viri, sed adhuc ambulantis in tenebris, 
et intelleget consilium apostoli illuc profecisse, ut 
radicis amaritudinem dulcedo fructuum conpensaret 
et yites virgulae balsama pretiosa sudarent. Tu es 
nata de inpari matrimonio, de te et Toxotio meo 
Paula generata est. Quis hoc crederet, ut Albini 
pontificis neptis de repromissione matris nasceretur, 
ut praesente et gaudente avo parvulae adhuc lingua 
balbutiens alleluia resonaret et virginem Christi in 



^ Laeta, to whom this letter was sent in a.d. 403, married 
Toxotius, son of Paula and Toxotius, ' in whose veins ran the 
noble blood of Aeneas ' (Letter CVIII, 4). She herself was the 
daughter of a pagan, the pontiff Albinus, and had written to 
Jerome concerning the education of her child Paula. The 
advice given in this letter, that the little girl should be sent 
to Bethlehem to be educated by her grandmother Paula and 
her aunt Eustochium, was accepted, and she eventually 
succeeded Eustochium as head of the nunnery there. 

^ 1 Corinthians, vii. 13. 

53^ 



LETTER CVII 

LETTER CVII 

To Laeta^ 

A Girl's Education 

Written a.d. 403 

The blessed apostle Paul, writing to the Corinth- 
ians and instructing Christ's novice church in the 
ways of sacred discipline, among his other precepts 
laid down also the following rule : ' The woman 
that hath an husband that believeth not, and if he 
be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 
For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the 
beheving wife, and the unbehe\ing wife is sanctified 
by the belie\ing husband ; else were your children 
unclean, but now they are holy.' ^ If any one up 
till now has perchance considered that Paul relaxed 
the bonds of discipline too much, and in his teaching 
was over-incUned to indulgence, let him consider 
the household of your father, who is a man of the 
highest rank and learning, but still walking in dark- 
ness, and he will perceive that the apostle's counsel 
has succeeded in making the sweetness of the fruit 
compensate for the bitterness of the parent tree, 
and has induced a common bush to exude precious 
balsam. You yourself are the child of a mixed 
marriage ; but now you and my dear Toxotius are 
Paula's parents. Wlio would ever have believed 
that the granddaughter of the Roman pontiff Albinus 
would be born in answer to a mother's vows ; that 
the grandfather would stand by and rejoice while the 
baby's yet stammering tongue cried ' Alleluia ' ; and 
that even the old man would nurse in his arms one of 

339 
z2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

suo gremio nutriret et senex ? Bene et feliciter 
expeetavimus. Sancta et fidelis domus unum sancti- 
ficat infidelem. Candidatus est fidei, quern filiorum 
et nepotum credens turba circumdat. Ego puto 
etiam ipsum lovem, si habuisset talem cognationem, 
potuisse in Christum credere. Despuat licet et 
inrideat epistulam meam et me vel stultum vel 
insanum clamitet, hoc et gener eius faciebat, ante- 
quam crederet. Fiunt, non nascuntur Christiani. 
Auratum squalet Capitolium, fuligine et aranearimi 
tehs omnia Romae templa cooperta sunt, movetur 
urbs sedibus suis et inundans populus ante delubra 
semiruta ciifrit ad martyrum tumulos. Si non 
extorquet fidem prudentia, extorqueat saltim ^re- 
cundia. 

2. HocLaeta, religiosissima in Christo filia, dictum 
sit, ut non desperes parentis salutem et eadem fide, 
qua meruisti filiam, et patrem recipias totaque domus 
beatitudine perfruaris sciens illud a domino repromis- 
sum : * Quae apud homines inpossibilia, apud Deum 
possibilia sunt.' Numquam est sera conversio. 
Latro de cruce transiit ad paradisum : Nabuchodo- 
nosor, rex Babylonius, post efFerationem et cordis et 
corporis et beluarum in heremo convictum mentem 
recepit humanam. Et, ut omittam Vetera, ne apud 
incredulos nimis fabulosa videantur, ante paucos 
annos propinquus vester Gracchus, nobihtatem 
patriciam nomine sonans, cum praefecturam regeret 
urbanam, nonne specu Mithrae et omnia ^ortentuosa 

1 St. Luke, xviii. 27. « Probably in 378. 

340 



LETTER CVII 

Christ's own virgins? We did well to expect this happy 
issue. The one unbeliever is sanctified by a saintly 
household of believers. He is a candidate for the 
faith, who has around him a throng of believing sons 
and grandsons : (I, for my part, think that even 
Jove might well have believed in Christ if he had 
had kinsfolk of this kind). He may spit in scorn 
upon this letter, and cry out that I am a fool or a 
madman ; but his son-in-law did the same before 
he became a believer. Christians are not born but 
made. The gilded Capitol to-day looks dingj', all 
the temples in Rome are covered with soot and 
cobwebs, the city is shaken to its foundations, and 
the people hurry past the ruined shrines and pom- 
out to visit the martyrs' graves. If knowledge does 
not compel faith, let shame at least do so. 

Let this be said, dear Laeta, most dutiful daughter 
in Christ, so that you may not despair of your father's 
salvation. I hope that the same faith which has 
gained you a daughter as its reward may also "win 
you your father, and that you may rejoice over 
blessings bestowed upon your whole household, 
knowing God's promise : ' The things which are 
impossible with men are possible with God.' ^ It is 
never too late to be converted. The robber passed 
from the cross to Paradise. Nebuchadnezzar, king 
of Babylon, recovered his human understanding 
after he had been made like an animal in body and 
heart, and had lived with the beasts in the wilder- 
ness. To pass over incidents in remote antiquity, 
which to the sceptical may appear too fabulous for 
belief, did not your kinsman Gracchus, whose name 
recalls his patrician rank, destroy the cave of Mithras 
a few years ago when he was Prefect of Rome ? ^ Did 

341 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

simulacra, quibus corax, nymphius,^ miles, leo, Perses, 
heliodromus, pater initiantur, subvertit, fregit, 
excussit et his quasi obsidibus ante praemissis inpet- 
ravit baptismum Christi ? 

Solitudinem patitur et in urbe gentilitas. Dii 
quondam nationum cum bubonibus et noctuis in solis 
culminibus remanserunt ; vexilla militum crucis 
insignia sunt, regum purpuras et ardentes diadema- 
tum gemmas patibu li salutaris pictura condecorat. 
lam et Aegyptius Serapis factus est Christianus ; 
Marnas Gazae luget inclusus et eversionem templi 
iugiter pertremescit. De India, Perside et Aethiopia 
monachorum cotidie turbas susfipimus.; deposuit 
faretras Armenius, Huni discunt psalterium, Scythae 
fervent calore fidei ; Getarum rutulus et flavus 
exercitus ecclesiarum circumfert tentoria et ideo 
forsitan contra nos aequa pugnat acie, quia pari 
religione confidunt. 

3. Paene lapsus sum ad aliam materiam et currente 
rota, dum urceum facere cogito, amphoram finxit 
manus. Propositum enim mihi erat sanctae Mar- 
cellae et tuis~pfeCtbus invitato ad matrem, id est ad 
te, serationem dirigere et docere, quomodo instruere 
Paululam nostram debeas, quae prius Christo est 
consecrata quam genita, quam ante votis quam utero 

^ cryphius : Hilberg. 



1 The initiates passed through several grades, of which 
these are titles. The Raven and Lion, for example, dressed 
in character, and imitated the creatures in their mummery. 

* In A.D. 389 the temple of Serapis at Alexandria was pulled 
down, and a Christian church built on the site. 

3 The chief Syrian god in Gaza. Cf. Jerome's life of 
Hilarion, § 20. 



LETTER CVII 

he not break and burn all the monstrous images 
there by which worshippers were initiated as Raven, 
Bridegroom, Soldier, Lion, Perseus, Sun-runner, and 
Father ? ^ Did he not send them before him as 
hostages, and gain for himself baptism in Christ ? 

Even in Rome now heathenism languishes in 
soUtude. Those who once were the gods of the 
Gentiles are left beneath their deserted pinnacles 
to the company of owls and night-birds. The army 
standards bear the emblem of the cross. The purple 
robes of kings and the jewels that sparkle on their 
diadems are adorned ^^ith the gibbet sign that has 
brought to us salvation. To-day even the Egyptian 
Serapis ^ has become a Christian : Mamas ^ mourns 
in his prison at Gaza, and fears continually that his 
temple will be overthrown. From India, from 
Persia and from Ethiopia we welcome crowds of 
monks every hour. The Armenians have laid aside 
their quivers, the Huns are learning the psalter, 
the frosts of Scythia are warmed by the fire of faith. 
The ruddy, flaxen-haired Getae carry tent-churches 
about with their armies ; and perhaps the reason 
why they fight -with us on equal terms is that they 
believe in the same religion. 

I have almost slipped into another subject, and 
thinking to make a pitcher on my running wheel my 
hand has moulded a flagon.* It was my intention, 
in answer to your prayers and those of the saintly 
Marcella, to direct my discourse to a mother, that 
is, to you, and to show you how to bring up our little 
Paula, who was consecrated to Christ before she 
was born, the child of prayers before the hour of 

* Horace, Ars Poeiica, 21 : amphora coepit institui : currcnte 
rota I cur urceus exit? 

343 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

suscepisti. Vidimus aliquid temporibus nostris de 
prophetalibus libris : Anna sterilitatem alvi fecundi- 
tate mutavit, tu luctuosam fecunditatem vitalibus 
liberis conmutasti. Fidens loquor accepturam te 
filios, quae primum foetum domino reddidisti. Ista 
sunt primogenita, quae ofFeruntur in lege. Sic natus 
Samuel, sic ortus est Samson, sic lohannes propheta 
ad introitum Mariae exultavit et lusit. Audiebat 
enim per os virginis verba domini pertonantis et de 
utero matris in occursum eius gestiebat erumpere. 
Igitur, quae de repromissione nata est, dignam 
habeat ortu suo institutionem parentum. Samuel 
nutritur in templo, lohannes in solitudine praeparatur. 
Ille sacro crine venerabilis est, vinum et siceram non 
bibit, adhuc parvulus cum Deo sermocinatur ; hie 
fugit urbes, zona pellicia cingitur, locustis alitur et 
melle silvestri et in typum paenitentiae praedicat 
tortuosissimi animalis vestitus exuviis. 

4. Sic erudienda est anima, quae futura est tem- 
plum domini. Nihil aliud discat audire, nihil loqui, 
nisi quod ad timorem Dei pertinet. Turpia verba 
non intellegat, cantica mundi ignoret, adhuc tenera 
lingua psalmis dulcibus inbuatur. Procul sit aetas 
lasciva puerorum, ipsae puellae et pj£diseqiiae a 
saecularium consortiis arceantur, ne, quod mali 
didicerint, peius doceant. Fiant ei litterae vel 

^ St. Luke, i. 41. * I.e. the camel. 

344 



LETTER CVII 

conception. In our own days we have seen some- 
thing such as we read of in the prophets : Hannah 
exchanged her barrenness for fruitful motherhood, 
you have exchanged a fertiHty bound up with sorrow 
for children who \nll live for ever. I tell you con- 
fidently that you who have given your first-bom 
to the Lord will receive sons at His hand. The first- 
born are the offerings due under the Law. Such 
was the case both with Samuel and with Samson, 
and so it was that John the Baptist leaped for joy 
when Mary came in.^ For he heard the thunder of 
the Lord's voice on the Virgin's lips, and was eager 
to break out from his mother's womb to meet Him. 
Therefore let your child of promise have a training 
from her parents worthy of her birth. Samuel was 
nurtured in the Temple, John was trained in the 
Wilderness. The one inspired veneration with his 
long hair, took neither wine nor strong drink, and 
even in his childhood talked with God. The other 
avoided cities, wore a skin girdle, and fed on locusts 
and wild honey, clothing himself in the hair of the 
most twisted of all animals ^ as a symbol of the 
repentance which he preached. 

Thus must a soul be trained which is to be a temple 
of God. It must learn to hear nothing and to say 
nothing save what pertains to the fear of the Lord. 
It must have no comprehension of foul words, no 
knowledge of worldly songs, and its childish tongue 
must be imbued with the sweet music of the psalms. 
Let boys with their wanton froUcs be kept far from 
Paula : let even her maids and attendants hold 
aloof from association with the worldly, lest they 
render their evil knowledge worse by teaching it to 
her. Have a set of letters made for her, of boxwood 

345 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

buxeae vel eburneae et suis nominibus appellentur. 
Ludat in eis, ut et lusus eius eruditio sit, et non solum 
ordinem teneat litterarum, ut m^moidiajiaininum in 
canticurntraiis.eat, sed ipse inter se crebro ordo 
turbetur et mediis ultima, primis media misceantur, 
ut eas non sonu tantum, sed et visu noverit. Cum 
vero coeperit trementi manu stilum in cera ducere, 
vel alterius superposita manu teneri regantur artisuili 
vel in tabella sculpantur elementa, ut per eosdem 
sulcos inclusa marginibus trahantur vestigia et foras 
non queant evagari, Syllabas iungat ad praemium, 
et, quibus ilia aetas delectari potest, munusculis 
ioiitetur. Habeat et in discendo socias, quibus 
invideat, quarum laudibus mordeatur. Non est 
obiurganda, si tardior sit, sed laudibus excitandum 
ingenium ; et vicisse se gaudeat et victam doleat. 
Cavendum in primis, ne oderit studia, ne amaritudo 
eorum percepta in infantia ultra rudes annos transeat. 
Ipsa nomina, per quae consuescet verba contexere, 
non sint fortuita, sed certa et coacervata dejndustria, 
prophetarum videlicet atque apostolorum, et omnis 
ab Adam patriarcharum series de Matheo' Lucaque 
descendat, ut, dum aliud agit, futurae memoriae 
praeparetur. 

Magister probae aetatis et vitae atque eruditionis 
est eligendus nee, puto, erubescit doctus vir id 
346 



LETTER CVII 

or of ivory, and tell her their names. Let her play 
with them, making play a road to learning, and 
let her not only grasp the right order of the letters 
and remember their names in a simple song, but 
also frequently upset their order and mix the last 
letters with the middle ones, the middle with the 
first. Thus she will know them all by sight as well 
as by sound. When she begins with uncertain 
hand to use the pen, either let another hand be put 
over hers to guide her baby fingers, or else have the 
letters marked on the tablet so that her wTiting 
may follow their outlines and keep to their limits 
\\ithout straying away. Offer her prizes for spelling, 
tempting her with such trifling gifts as please young 
children. Let her have companions too in her 
lessons, so that she may seek to rival them and be 
stimulated by any praise they win. You must not 
scold her if she is somewhat slow ; praise is the best 
sharpener of wits. Let her be glad when she is 
first and sorry when she falls behind. Above all 
take care not to make her lessons distasteful ; a 
childish dislike often lasts longer than childhood. 
The very words from which she ^vill get into the 
way of forming sentences should not be taken at 
haphazard but be definitely chosen and arranged 
on purpose. For example, let her have the names 
of the prophets and the apostles, and the whole list 
of patriarchs from Adam downwards, as Matthew 
and Luke give it. She will then be doing two things 
at the same time, and will remember them after- 
wards. 

For teacher you must choose a man of approved 
years, life and learning. Even a sage is not 
ashamed, methinks, to do for a relative or for a 

347 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

facere vel in propinqua vel in nobili virgine, quod 
Aristoteles fecit in Philippi filio, ut ipse libra- 
riorum vilitate initia ei traderet litterarum. Non 
sunt contemnenda quasi parva, sine quibus magna 
constare non possunt. Ipse elementorum sonus et 
prima institutio praeceptoris aliter de erudito, aliter 
de rustico ore profertur. Unde et tibi est provi- 
dendum, ne ineptis blanditiis feminarum dimidiata 
dicere filiam verba consuescas et in auro atque 
purpura ludere, quorum alter um linguae, alterum 
moribus oj^it, ne discat in tenero, quod ei postea 
dediscendum est. Gracchorum ^ eloquentiae multum 
ab infantia sermo matris seribitur contulisse, Hor- 
tensii ^ oratio in paterno sinu coaluit. Difficulter 
eraditur, quod rudes animi perbiberunt. Lanarum 
ccmchyiift quis in pristinum candorem revocet.'' 
Rudis testa diu et saporem retinet et odorem, quo 
primum imbuta est. Graeca narrat historia Alex- 
andrum, potentissimum regem orbisque domitorem, 
et in moribus et in incessu Leonidis, paedagogi sui, 
non potuisse carere vitiis, quibus parvulus adhuc 
fuerat infectus. Erorlivis est enim malorum aemu- 
latio et, quorum virtutem adsequi nequeas, cito 
imitere vitia. Nutrix ipsa non sit temulenta, non 
lasciva, non garrula ; habeat modestam gerulam, 
nutricium gravem. Cum avum viderit, in pectus 
eius transiliat, e collo pendeat, nolenti alleluia de- 
cantet. Rapiat earn avia, patrem risibus recognoscat, 

1 Graccorum : Hilherg. * Hortensiae : Hilberg. 

1 Dyed purple with the juice of the murez. 
^ Horace, Epistles, I. ii. 70: quo semel est imbuta recens 
servabit \ odorem testa diu. 

348 



LETTER CVII 

high-bom virgin what Aristotle did for Philip's son, 
when like some humble clerk he taught him his 
first letters. Things must not be despised as trifles, 
if without them great results are impossible. The 
very letters themselves, and so the first lesson in 
them, sound quite differently from the mouth of 
a learned man, and of a rustic. And so you must 
take care not to let women's silly coaxing get 
your daughter into the way of cutting her words 
short, or of disporting herself in gold brocade and 
fine purple. The first habit ruins talk, the second 
character; and children should never learn what 
they will afterwards have to unlearn. We are told 
that the eloquence of the Gracchi was largely due 
to the way in which their mother talked to them as 
children, and it was by sitting on his father's lap 
that Hortensius became a great orator. The first 
impression made on a young mind is hard to remove. 
The shell-dyed wooP — who can bring back its 
pristine whiteness? A new jar keeps for a long 
time the taste and smell of its original contents.^ 
Greek history tells us that the mighty king Alexander, 
who subdued the whole world, could not rid himself 
of the tricks of manner and gait which in his child- 
hood he had caught from his governor Leonides. 
For it is easy to imitate the bad, and you may soon 
copy the faults of those to whose wtue you can 
never attain. Let Paula's foster-mother be a person 
neither drunken nor wanton nor fond of gossip: 
let her nurse be a modest woman, her foster-father 
a respectable man. WTien she sees her grandfather, 
she must leap into his arms, hang on his neck, and 
sing ' Alleluia ' whether he likes it or not. Let 
her grandmother snatch her away, let her recog- 

349 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

sit omnibus amabilis et universa propinquitas rosam 
ex se natam gaudeat. Discat statim, quam habeat 
et alteram aviam, quam amitam, cui imperatori, cui 
exercitui tiruncula nutriatur. Illas desideret, ad 
illas tibi minitetur abscessum. 

5. Ipse habitus et vestitus doceat earn, cui promissa 
sit. Cave ne aures perfores, ne cerusa et purpurisso 
consecrata Christo ora depingas, ne collum margaritis 
et auro premas, ne caput gemmis oneres, ne capillum 
in rufe s et ei aliquid de gehennae ignibus auspiceris. 
Habeat alias margaritas, quibus postea venditis 
emptura est pretiosissimum margaritum. Prae- 
textata, nobilissima quondam femina, iubente viro 
Hymetio, qui patruus Eustochiae virginis fuit, 
habitum eius cultumque mutavit et neglectum 
crinem undanti gradu texuit vincere cupiens et 
virginis propositum et matris desiderium. Et ecce 
tibi eadem nocte cernit in somnis venisse ad se 
angelum terribili facie minitantem poenas et haec 
verba frangentem : ' Tune ausa es viri imperium 
praeferre Christo ? Tu caput virginis Dei sacrilegis 
a dtr^ct^re manibus ? Quae iam nunc ajigscent, ut 
sentias excruciata, quid feceris, et finito mense 
quinto ad inferna ducaris. Sin autem perseveraveris 
in scelere, et marito simul orbaberis et filiis.' Omnia 



1 Cf. Appendix, p. 488. 
35° 



LETTER CVII 

nize her father with a smile, let her endear herself to 
all, so that the whole family may rejoice that they 
have such a rosebud among them. Let her learn 
too at once who is her other grandmother and her 
aunt, who is her captain and for whose army she 
is being trained as a recruit. Let her crave their 
company and threaten you that she will leave you 
for them. 

Her very dress and outward appearance should 
remind her of Him to whom she is promised. Do 
not pierce her ears, or paint with white lead and 
rouge the cheeks that are consecrated to Christ. 
Do not load her neck with pearls and gold, do not 
weigh down her head with jewels, do not dye her 
hair red and thereby presage for her the fires of 
hell. Let her have other pearls which she will sell 
hereafter and buy the pearl that is of great price. 
There was once a lady of rank named Praetextata, 
who at the bidding of her husband Hymetius, the 
uncle of Eustochia,^ altered that virgin's dress and 
appearance, and had her hair waved, desiring thus 
to overcome the virgin's resolution and her mother's 
wishes. But lo ! that same night in her dreams she 
saw an angel, terrible of aspect, standing before her, 
who threatened her with punishment and broke 
into speech thus : ' Have you dared to put your 
husband's orders before those of Christ ? Have you 
presumed to lay sacrilegious hands upon the head 
of God's virgin ? Those hands this very hour shall 
wither, and in torment you shall recognize your 
guilt, until at the fifth month's end you be carried 
off to hell. Moreover, if you persist in your wicked- 
ness, you shall lose both your husband and your 
children.' All this was duly fulfilled, and a swift 

351 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

per ordinem expleta sunt et seram miserae paeni- 
tentiam velox signavit interitus. Sic ulciscitur 
Christus violatores templi sui, sic gemmas et pre- 
tiosissima ornamenta defendit. Et hoc retuli, non 
quod insultare velim calamitatibus infelicium, sed ut 
te moneam, cum quanto metu et cautione servare 
debeas, quod domino spopondisti. 

6. Heli sacerdos ofFendit dominum ob vitia libero- 
rum ; episcopus fieri non potest, qui filios habuerit 
luxuriosos et non subditos. At e contrario de muliere 
scribitur, quod ' salva fiet per filiorum generationem, si 
permanserit in fide et caritate et sanctificatione cum 
pudicitia.' Si ppi'ffcj^ aftas pt piij^jnris inputatur 
parentibus, quanto magis lactans et fragilis et quae 
iuxta sententiam domini ignorat dexteram aut 
sinistram, id est boni ac mali nescit difFerentiam ! 
Sollicita provides, ne filia percutiatur a vipera; cur 
non eadem cura provideas, ne feriatur a malleo 
universae terrae, ne bibat de aureo calice Babylonis, 
ne egrediatur cum Dina et velit videre filias regionis 
alienae, ne ludat pedibus, ne trahat tunicas ? Venena 
non dantur nisi melle circumlita et vitia non deci- 
piunt nisi sub specie umbraque virtutum. * Et 
quomodo,' inquies, ' peceata patrum filiis non red- 
duntur nee filiorum parentibus, sed " anima quae 
peccaverit, ipsa morietur " ? ' Hoc de his dicitur, 
qui possunt sapere, de quibus in evangelio scriptum 



1 1 Samuel, ii. 30. 

2 1 Timothy, ii. 15. Jerome substitutes ' chastity ' for 
'sobriety.' ^ I.e., Babylon. * Genesis, xxxiv. 1. 

* Luer. I. 936 : veluti pueris absinthia tetra medentes \ cum 
dare conantur, prius oras pocula circnmA contingunt mellis 
dulci flavoque liquore. * Ezekiel, xviii. 20. 

352 



LETTER CVII 

death marked the unhappy woman's late repentance. 
So it is that Christ takes vengeance upon the violators 
of his temple, so he defends his pearls and precious 
jewels. I have told you this, not with any wish to 
exult over the downfall of the >\Tetched, but to 
remind you \^•ith what anxiety and carefulness you 
must watch over that which you have vowed to the 
Lord. 

The priest EU lost God's favoiu: because of his 
children's faults ; ^ a man cannot be a bishop, if his 
sons are men of profligate and disorderly life. On 
the other hand it is wTitten of the woman : ' She 
shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith 
and charity and holiness with chastity.' - If parents 
get the credit for their children's deeds, even when 
they are of ripe age and their own masters, how much 
more are they responsible for a frail baby girl, who, 
as the Lord says, cannot discern between right hand 
and left, that is, does not know the difference be- 
tween good and evil. You take anxious thought 
to prevent a viper biting your daughter ; why do 
you not show the same prudent care to save her 
from the hammer of the whole earth,^ to guard her 
from drinking of Babylon's golden cup, from going 
out with Dinah to see the daughters of a strange 
land,* from sporting in the dance, from trailing her 
robe at her heels ? You smear honey round the 
cup before you give a drug,^ and vices only deceive 
when they wear the mien and semblance of virtue. 
You will ask : ' how is it that the sins of the fathers 
are not reckoned against the sons, nor the sins of 
the sons against the parents, but " the soul that 
sinneth it shall die " ? ' * That passage, I answer, 
refers to those who have reached the age of discre- 

353 

A A 



SELECT LETfERS OF ST. JEROME 

est: 'Aetatem habet, pro se loquatur.' Qui autem 
parvulus est et sapit ut parvulus, donee ad annos 
sapientiae veniat et Pythagorae litterae eum perdu- 
cant ad bivium, tarn mala eius quam bona parentibus 
inputantur, nisi forte aestimas Christianorum filios, 
si baptisma non acceperint, ipsos tantum reos esse 
peccati et non scelus referri ad eos, qui dare noluerint, 
maxime eo tempore, quo contradicere non poterant, 
qui.accepturi erant, sicut e regione salus infantium 
maiorum lucrum est. Offerre necne filiam potestatis 
tuae fuit, quamquam alia sit tua condicio, quae prius 
eam vovisti, quam conceperis ; ut autem oblatam 
neglegas, ad periculum tuum pertinet. Qui claudam 
et mutilam et qualibet sorde maculatam obtulerit 
hostiam, sacrilegii reus est; quanto magis, qui 
partem corporis sui et inliba tafi animae puritatem 
regiis amplexibus parat, si negligens fuerit, punietur ! 
7. Postquam grandicula esse coeperit et in exem- 
pluni sponsi sui crescere sapientia, aetate et gratia 
apud Deum et homines, pergat cum parentibus ad 
templum veri patris, sed cum illis non egrediatur e 
templo. Quaerant eam in itinere saeculi, inter 
turbas et frequentiam propinquorum et nusquam 
alibi reperiant nisi in adyto scripturarum prophetas 
et apostolos de spiritalibus nuptiis sciscitant em. 
Imitetur Mariam, quam Gabriel solam in cubiculo 



1 St. John, ix. 21. 

^ Pythagoras depicted the Choice of Life under the form 
of the Greek letter T, which was originally made with one 
straight stroke on the right, and half-way up a curved branch 
on the left. The lower part represents the period of child- 
hood ; the branching ways the time when the choice has to be 
made between good and evil. The steep path to the right is 
the path of virtue. 

354 



LETTER CVII 

tion, of whom the Gospel says : * He is of age, let 
him speak for himself.' ^ As for the Uttle child 
\vith a child's understanding, until he comes to 
years of >nsdom and the letter of Pythagoras ^ con- 
fronts him A\ith the two roads, his evil deeds as well 
as his good are laid to his parents' account ; unless 
indeed you imagine that the children of Christians, 
if they have not received baptism, are themselves * 
alone responsible for their sins and no guilt attaches 
to those who refused it them at the time when the 
recipients could not have objected. The truth is 
that baptism means salvation for the child and ad- 
vantage for the parents. It rested vnih you whether 
you should offer your daughter or not ; although 
you scarcely had the option, since you offered her 
before she was conceived. But now that you have 
offered her you neglect her at your peril. He that 
offers a \ictim that is lame or maimed or marked 
with any blemish is considered guilty of sacrilege. 
How much greater >^ill be the punishment, if one 
proves negUgent, who makes ready for the King's 
embrace a portion of her own body and the purity 
of the unmutilated soul ! 

WTien Paula begins to be a big girl, and Uke her 
Spouse to increase in A\isdom and stature and in 
favour '«'ith God and man, let her go >\ith her parents 
to the temple of her true Father, but let her not 
come out from the temple with them. Let them 
seek her upon the world's highway, amid crowds 
and the company of their kinsfolk, but let them find 
her nowhere save in the shrine of the Scriptures, 
inquiring there of the prophets and apostles con- 
cerning her spiritual nuptials. Let her take pattern 
by Mary whom Gabriel found alone in her chamber, <4~ 

355 

A A 2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

suo repperit et ideo forsitan timore perterrita est, 
quia virum, quern non solebat, aspexit. Aemuletur 
earn, de qua dicitur : ' Omnis gloria filiae regis ab 
intus ' ; loquatur et ipsa pleeto caritatis iaculo 
vulnerata: ' Introduxit me rex in cubiculum suum.' 
Nunquam exeat foras, ne inveniant earn, qui eircum- 
eunt civitatem, ne percutiant et vulnerent et aufer- 
entes tTipristrnrn pudicitiae nudam in sanguine 
derelinquant ; quin potius, cum aliquis ostium eius 
pulsaverit, dieat : ' Ego murus et ubera mea turris. 
Lavi pedes meos, non possum i nquinare eos.' 

8. Non vescatur in publico, id est in parentum 
convivio, nee videat cibos, quos desideret. Et licet 
quidam putent maioris esse virtutis pracsentem 
contemnere voluptatem, tamen ego securioris arbitror 
c ontinen tiae niescire, quod quaeras. Legi quondam 
iri scholis puer : 'Aegre reprehendas, quod sinas 
consuescere.' Discat iam tunc et vinum non bibere, 
* in quo est luxuria.' Ante_annos robustae aetatis 
periculosa est teneris grayis abstinentia. Usque ad 
id tempus, si necessitas postularit, et balneas adeat 
et vino modico utatur propter stomachum et carnium 
edulio sustentetur, ne prius deficiant pedes, quam 
currere incipiant. Et ' haec dico iuxta indulgentiam, 
non iuxta imperium,' timens debilitatem, non docens 
luxuriam. Alioqui n. quod ludaica superstitio ex 
parte facit in eiuratione quorundam animalium atque 
escarima, quod Indorum Bragmanae et Aegjrptiorum 



1 Psalm xlv. 13. 

^ Song of Solomon, i. 4. 

^ Song of Solomon, viii. 10 and v. 3. 

* Publilius Syi-us, SerUentiae, 180. Cf. p. 478. 
' Ephesians, v. 18. 

• 1 Timothy, v. 23. ^ 1 Corinthians, vii. 6. 



35^ 



LETTER CVII 

Mar>' who perchance was terrified because she saw 
a strange man. Let her seek to rival that one of 
whom it is said : ' All the glory of the king's 
daughter is from within.'^ Wounded with love's 
arrow let her too say to her chosen : * The king 
hath brought me into his chamber.* * At no time' 
let her go out abroad, lest those that go about the 
city find her, lest they smite her and wound her and 
take away the veil of her chastity and leave her 
naked in her blood. Xay rather, when one knocketh 
at her door let her say : ' I am a wall and my 
breasts are a tower. I have washed my feet ; how 
can I defile them ? ' ^ 

She should not take her food in public, that is, at 
her parents' guest-table ; for she may there see 
dishes that she ^^^ll crave for. And though some 
people think it shows the higher \'irtue to despise a 
pleasure ready to your hand, I for my part judge 
it part of the surer self-restraint to remain in ignor- 
ance of what you would like. Once when I was a 
boy at school I read this line : ' Things that have 
become a habit you will find it hard to blame.' * Let 
her learn even now not to drink wine ' wherein is 
excess.' ^ Until they have reached their full strength, 
however, strict abstinence is dangerous for young 
children : so till then, if needs must, let her visit 
the baths, and take a little wine for the stomach's 
sake,^ and have the support of a meat diet, lest her 
feet fail before the race begins. ' I say this by way 
of indulgence and not by way of command,' ' fearing 
weakness, not teaching wantonness. Moreover, what 
the Jewish superstition does in part, solemnly re- 
jecting certain animals and certain products as food, 
what the Brahmans in India and the Gymnosophists 

357 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

gymnosophistae in polentae et orizae et pomorum 
solo observant cibo, cur virgo Christi non faciat in 
toto ? Si tanti yitrum, quare non maioris sit pretii 
margaritum ? Quae nata est ex repromissione, sic 
vivat, ut illi vixerunt, qui de repromissione generati 
sunt. Aequa gratia aequum habeat et laborem. 
Surda sit ad organa : tibia, lyra et cithara cur facta 
sint, nesciat. 

9. Reddat tibi pensum cotidie scripturarum certum. 
Ediscat Graecorum versuum numerum. Sequatur 
statim et Latina eruditio; quae si non ab initio os 
tenerum conposuit, in peregrinum sonum lingua 
corrumpitur et externis vitiis sermo patrius sordi- 
datur. Te habeat magistram, te rudis miretur 
infantia. Nihil in te et in patre sue videat, quod si 
fecerit, peccet. Memento vos parentes virginis et 
magis earn exemplis docere posse quam voce. Cito 
flores pereunt, cito violas et lilia et crocum pestilens 
aura corrumpit. Numquam absque te procedat in 
publicum, basilicas martyrum et ecclesias sine matre 
non adeat. Nullus ei iuvenis, nullus cincinnatus 
adrideat. Vigiliarum dies et sollemnes per- 
noctationes sic virguncula nostra celebret, ut ne 
tcans^£rsjjy©_qui<i£E3.. unguern a matre discedat. 
Nolo de ancillulis suis aliquam plus diligat, cuius 
crebro auribus insusurret. Quicquid uni loquitur, 
hoc omnes sciant. Placeat ei comes non compta 
atque formosa, quae liquido gutture carmen dulce 

358 



LETTER CVII 

in Egypt observe on their diet of only porridge, 
rice, and fruit, why should not Christ's virgin do 
altogether ? If a glass bead is worth so much, surely 
a pearl must have a higher value. The child of 
promise must live as those lived before her who 
were born under the same vow. Let an equal favour 
bring with it also an equal labour. Paula must be 
deaf to all musical instruments, and never even know- 
why the flute, the lyre, and the harp came into 
existence. 

Let her everj' day repeat to you a portion of the 
Scriptures as her fixed task. A good number of 
verses she should learn by heart in the Greek, but 
knowledge of the Latin should follow close after. 
If the tender lips are not trained from the beginning, 
the language is spoiled by a foreign accent and our 
native tongue debased by alien faults. You must 
be her teacher, to you her childish ignorance must 
look for a model. Let her never see anything in 
you or her father which she would do wrong to 
imitate. Remember that you are a \irgin's parents 
and that you can teach her better by example than 
by words. Flowers quickly fade ; violets, lilies, 
and saffron are soon withered by a baleful breeze. 
Let her never appear in public without you, let 
her never \isit the churches and the martyrs' shrines 
except in your company. Let no youth or curled 
dandy ogle her. Let our little \irgin never stir a 
finger's breadth from her mother when she attends 
a vigil or an all-night service. I would not let her 
have a favourite maid into whose ear she might 
frequently whisper : what she says to one, all ought 
to know. Let her choose as connpanion not a spruce, 
handsome girl, able to warble sweet songs in liquid 

359 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

mpderetur, sed gravis, pallens, sordidata, subtristis. 
Praeponatur ei probae fidei et morum ac pudicitiae 
virgo veterana, quae illam doceat et adsuescat 
exemplo ad orationem et psalmos nocte consurgere, 
mane hymnos canere, tertia, sexta, nona hora quasi 
bellatricem Christi stare in acie accensaque lucernula 
reddere sacrificium vespertinum. Sic dies transeat, 
sic nox inveniat laborantem. Orationi lectio, leetioni 
succedat oratio. Breve videbitur tempus, quod 
tantis operum varietatibus occupatur. 

10. Discat et lanam facere, tenere colum, ponere 
in gremio calatum, rotare fusum, stamina pollice 
ducere. Spernat bopi bycum telas. Serum vellera et 
aurum in^fila lentescens. Talia vestimenta paret, 
quibus pellatur frigus, non quibus corpora vestita 
nudentur. Cibus eius holusculum sit et simila 
raroque piscicjali. Et ne gulae praecepta longius 
traham, de quibus in alio loco plenius sum locutus, 
sic comedat, ut semper esuriat, ut statim post cibum 
possit legere, orare, psallere. Displicent mihi in 
teneris vel maxime aetatibus longa et inmoderata 
ieiunia, quibus iunguntur ebdomades et oleum in 
cibo ac poma vitantur. Experimento didici asellum 
in via, cum lassus fuerit, diiCiiiciila quaerere. 
Faciant hoc cultores Isidis et Cybelae, qui gulosa 
abstinentia Fasides aves et fumantes turtures vorant, 
360 



LETTER CVII 

notes, but one grave and pale, carelessly dressed and 
inclined to melancholy. Set before her as a pattern 
some aged virgin of approved faith, character, and 
chastity, one who may instruct her by word, and 
by example accustom her to rise from her bed at 
night for prayer and psalm singing, to chant hymns 
in the morning, at the third, sixth, and ninth hour, 
to take her place in the ranks as one of Christ's 
amazons, and with kindled lamp to offer the evening 
sacrifice. So let the day pass, and so let the night 
find her still labouring. Let reading follow prayer 
and prayer follow reading. The time will seem 
short when it is occupied with such a diversity of 
tasks. 

Let her learn also to make wool, to hold the distaff, 
to put the basket in her lap, to turn the spindle, to 
shape the thread with her thumb. Let her scorn 
silk fabrics, Chinese fleeces, and gold brocades. 
Let her have clothes which keep out the cold, not 
expose the limbs they pretend to cover. Let her 
food be vegetables and wheaten bread and occasion- 
ally a little fish. I do not vvish here to give long 
rules for eating, since I have treated that subject 
more fully in another place ; but let her meals 
always leave her hungry and able at once to begin 
reading or praying or singing the psalms. I dis- 
approve, especially with young people, of long and 
immoderate fasts, when week is added to week and 
-even oil in food and fruit are banned. I have learned 
by experience that the ass on the high road makes 
for an inn when it is weary. Leave such things to 
the worshippers of Isis and Cybele, who in gluttonous 
abstinence gobble up pheasants and turtle doves all 
smoking hot, of course to avoid contaminating 

361 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

ne scilicet Cerealia dona contaminent. Hoc in 
perpetuo ieiunio praeceptum sit, ut longo itineri 
vires perpetes supparentur, ne in prima mansione 
currentes corruamus in mediis. Cetcrum, iifante 
scripsi, In^^Qiadragesima continentiae vela pandenda 
sunt et tota aurigae retinacula equis laxanda pro- 
perantibus, quamquam alia sit condicio saecularium, 
alia virginum ac monachorum. Saecularis homo in 
quadragesima ventris ingluviem decoquit et in 
cQcleaxmn morem suo victitans suco futuris dapibus 
ac saginae aqualiculum parat ; virgo et monachus sic 
in quadragesima suos emittant equos, ut sibi memi- 
nerint semper esse currendum. Finitus labor maior, 
infinitus moderatior est; ibi enim respiramus, hie 
perpetuo incedimus. 

IL Si quando ad suburbana pergis, domi filiam 
non relinquas ; nesciat sine te nee possit vivere ; cum 
sola fuerit, pertremescat. Non habeat conloquia 
saecularium, non malarum virginum contubernia, 
non intersit nuptiis servulorum nee familiae perstre- 
pentis lusibus misceatur. Scio praecepisse quosdam, 
ne virgo Christi cum eunuchis lavet, ne cum maritis 
feminis, quia alii non deponant animos virorum, aliae 
tumentibus uteris praeferant foeditatem. Mihi 
omnino in adulta virgine layacra displicent, quae se 
ipsam debet erubescere et nudam videre non posse. 
Si enim vigiliis et ieiuniis macerat corpus suum et in 
servitutem redigit, si flammam libidinis et incentiva 
ferventis aetatis extinguere cupit continentiae 

1 Cf. Plautus, Captivi, 80. 
362 



I.KTTER C\7I 

the gift of Ceres. If you fast without a break, 
you must so arrange things that your strength lasts 
out the long journey : we must not run well for the 
first lap and then fall in the middle of the race. In 
Lent, however, as I have written preWously, the 
sails of self-denial may be spread wide, and the 
charioteer may loosen the reins and let his horses 
go full speed. Not but what there is one rule for 
worldlings, and another for \irgins and monks. The 
worldling in Lent digests again what remains in 
his crop, and like a snail lives on his o^^ni juice,* 
while he gets his belly fit for the rich food and feasts 
that are to come. Not so with the monk and \irgin : 
when they give their steeds the rein in Lent, they 
must remember that their race lasts for ever. Limited 
efforts are greater, unlimited more moderate : for 
there we have breathing space, here we never stop. 
If ever you \isit the country, do not leave your 
daughter behind at Rome. She should have neither 
the knowledge nor the power to live without you, 
and should tremble to be alone. Let her not con- 
verse A^ith worldlings, nor associate with wgins who 
neglect their vows. Let her not be present at 
slaves' weddings, nor take part in noisy household 
games. I know that some people have laid down 
the rule that a Christian \irgin should not bathe 
along with eunuchs or with married women, inas- 
much as eunuchs are still men at heart, and women [ '. 
big ^nth child are a revolting sight. For myself I 
disapprove altogether of baths in the case of a full- 
grown \irgin. She ought to blush at herself and 
be unable to look at her own nakedness. If she 
mortifies and enslaves her body by \igils and fasting, 
if she desires to quench the flame of lust and to 

363 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

frigore, si adpetitis sordibus turpare festinat 
naturalem pulchritudinem, cur e contrario balnearum 
fomentis sopitos ignes suscitat? 

12. Pro gemmis aut serico divinos codices amet, in 
quibus non auri et pellis Babyloniae vernaicxJata. 
pictura, sed ad fidem placeat emendata et erudita 
distinctio. Discat primum Psalterium, his se canticis 
axocet, et in Proverbiis Salomonis erudiatur ad vitam. 
In Ecclesiaste consuescat calcare, quae mundi sunt; 
in lob virtutis et patientiae exempla sectetur. Ad 
Evangelia transeat numquam ea positura de manibus ; 
Apostolorum Acta et Epistulas tota cordis inbibat 
voluntate. Cumque pectoris sui cellarium his opibus 
locupletarit, mandet memoriae Prophetas et Hepta- 
teuchum et Regum ac Pamlipomprinn hbros Hesdrae- 
que et Hester volumina, ut ultimum sine periculo 
discat Canticum Canticorum, ne, si in exordio legerit, 
sub carnahbus verbis spiritalium nuptiarum epithala- 
mium non intellegens vulneretur. Caveat omnia 
apocrypha et, si quando ea non ad dogmatum veri- 
tatem, sed ad signorum reverentiam legere voluerit, 
sciat non eorum esse, quorum titulis praenotantur, 
multaque his admixta vitiosa et grandis esse pru- 
dentiae aurum in luto quaerere. Cypriani opuscula 
semper in manu teneat, Athanasii epistulas et 

^ /.c, the Roman, or as we call them " Turkish," baths. 
364 



LETIER CVII 

check the hot desires of youth by a cold chastity, 
if she hastens to spoil her natural beauty by a de- 
hberate squalor, why should she roiise a sleeping 
fire by the incentive of baths ? ^ 

Instead of jewels or silk let her love the manu- 
scripts of the Holy Scriptures, and in them let her 
prefer correctness and accurate arrangement to 
gilding and Babylonian parchment >Wth elaborate 
decorations. Let her learn the Psalter first, with 
these songs let her distract herself, and then let her 
learn lessons of life in the Proverbs of Solomon. In 
reading Ercclesiastes let her become accustomed to 
tread underfoot the things of this world ; let her follow 
the examples of \'Lrtue and patience that she will 
find in Job. Let her then pass on to the Gospels 
and never again lay them do^\■n. Let her drink in 
the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles ^^-ith all 
the will of her heart. As soon as she has enriched 
her mind's storehouse with these treasures, let her 
commit to memor}^ the Prophets, the Heptateuch, 
the books of Kings and the Chronicles, and the 
rolls of Ezra and Esther. Then at last she may 
safely read the Song of Songs : if she were to read 
it at the beginning, she might be harmed by not 
perceiving that it was the song of a spiritual bridal 
expressed in fleshly language. Let her avoid all 
the apocrj'phal books, and if she ever ^\■ishes to read 
them, not for the truth of their doctrines but out 
of respect for their wondrous tales, let her reahze 
that they are not really written by those to whom 
they are ascribed, that there are many faulty ele- 
ments in them, and that it requires great skill to 
look for gold in mud. Let her always keep Cyprian's 
works by her, and let her peruse the letters of Atha- 

365 



SELECT LETfERS OF ST. JEROME 

Hilarii libros inofFenso decurrat p,ede. Illorum 
tractatibus, illorum delectetur ingeniis, in quorum 
libris pietas fidei non vacillet; ceteros sic legat, ut 
magis iudicet quam sequatur. 

13. Respondebis : ' Quomodo haec omnia mulier 
saecularis in tanta frequentia hominum Romae 
custodire potero ? ' Noli ergo subire onus, quod 
ferre non potes, sed, postquam ahlact4Ui:eEis earn cum 
Isaac et vestieris cum Samuhele, mitte aviae et 
amitae. Redde pretiosissimam gemmam cubiculo 
Mariae, et cunis lesu vagientis inpone. Nutriatur 
in monasterio, sit inter virginum choros, iurare non 
discat, mentiri sacrilegium putet, nesciat saeculum, 
vivat angelice, sit in came sine carne, omne hominum 
genus sui simile putet et, ut cetera taceam, certe te 
liberet servandi difficultate et custodiae periculo. 
Melius est tibi desiderare absentem quam pavere ad 
singula, cum quo loquatur, quid loquatur, cui adnuat, 
quem libenter aspiciat. Trade Eustochio parvulam, 
cuius nunc et ipse vagitus pro te oratio est, trade 
comitem^uturam sanctitatis heredem. lUam videat, 
illam amet, illam ' primis miretur ab annis,' cuius et 
sermo et habitus et incessus doctrina virtutum est. 
Sit in gremio aviae, quae repetat in nepte, quidquid 
praemisit in filia, quae longo usu didicit nutrire, 

1 Virgil, Aeneid, VIII. 517. 
366 



LETfER CVII 

nasius and the treatises of Hilary without fear of 
stumbling. She may take pleasure in the learned 
expositions of all such >\Titers as maintain in their 
books a steady love of the faith. If she reads others, 
let it be as a critic rather than as a disciple. 

You will answer : ' How shall I, a woman of the 
world hving in crowded Rome, be able to keep all 
these injunctions? ' Do not then take up a burden 
which you cannot bear. When you have weaned 
Paula as Isaac was weaned, and when you have 
clothed her as Samuel was clothed, send her to her 
grandmother and her aunt. Set this most precious \ 
jewel in Mary's chamber, and place her on the 
cradle where Jesus cried. Let her be reared in a 
monastery amid bands of virgins, where she will learn 
never to take an oath, and to regard a lie as sacri- 
lege. Let her know nothing of the world, but live 
like the angels ; let her be in the flesh and mthout 
the flesh, thinking all mankind to be like herself. 
Thus, to say nothing of other things, she will free 
you from the difficult task of watching over her and 
from all the responsibility of guardianship. It is 
better for you to regret her absence than every 
moment to be fearing what she is saying, to whom 
she is talking, whom she greets and whom she likes 
to see. Give to Eustochium the little child, whose 
very wailings are now a prayer on your behalf; give 
her, to be her companion to-day, to be the inheritor 
of her sanctity in the years to come. Let her gaze 
upon and love, let her ' from her first years admire ' ^ 
one whose words and gait and dress are an education 
in virtue. Let her grandmother take her on her 
lap and repeat to her grandchild the lessons she 
once taught her daughter. Long experience has 

367 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

docere, servare virgines, in cuius corona cgntfinaxii 
cotidie mnneri castitas texitur. Felix virgo, felix 
Paula Toxotii, quae per aviae amitaeque virtutes 
nobilior est sanctitate quam genere ! O si tibi 
contingeret \ddere socrum et cognatam tuam et 
in parvis corpusculis ingentes animos intueri ! Pro 
insita tibi pudicitia non ambigerem, quin praecederes 
filiam et primam Dei sententiam secunda evangelii 
lege rautares. Ne tu parvi penderes aliorum desideria 
liberorum et te ipsa magis ofFerres Deo ! Sed quia 
' tempus est amplexandi et tempus longe fieri a 
conplexibus ' et ' uxor non habet potestatem corporis 
sui ' et ' unusquisque in ea vocatione, qua vocatus est, 
in ea permaneat ' in domino, et, qui sub iugo est, 
sic debet currere, ne in luto comitem dereUnquat, 
totum redde in subole, quod in te interim distulisti. 
Anna filium, quem Deo voverat, postquam obtulit 
tabernaculo, numquam recepit indecens arbitrata, 
ut futurus propheta in huius domo cresceret, quae 
adhuc alios filios habere cupiebat. Denique, post- 
quam concepit et peperit, non est ausa ad templum 
accedere et vacua apparere coram domino, nisi prius 
redderet, quod debebat, talique immolato sacrificio 
reversa domum quinque liberos sibi genuit, quia 
primogenitum Deo peperat. Miraris felicitatem 
sanctae mulieris ? Imitare fidem. Ipse, si Paulam 



^ Cf. c. Jov. I. 3, where the respective merits of the estates 
of marriage, widowhood and virginity are compared to the 
seeds which brought forth thirty, sixty and a hundred fold : 
for this association of 100 with virginity, cf. also Letters 
XXII, 15 and 19, and LXVI, 2. 

2 Genesis, xxxv. 11 : Be fruitful and multiply. 

' Ecclesiastes, iii. 5. * 1 Corinthians, vii. 4. 

^ 1 Corinthians, vii. 20. * 1 Samuel, i. 22. 

368 



LETfER CVII 

taught her how to rear, instruct, and watch over 
virgins, and in her crown every day is woven the 
mystic hundred of chastity.^ O happy virgin! O 
happy Paula, daughter of Toxotius ! By the virtues 
of her grandmother and her aunt she is nobler in 
sanctity even than in hneage. Oh, if you could only 
see your mother-in-law and your sister, and know 
the mighty souls that dwell within their feeble 
bodies ! Then I doubt not that you would obey your 
innate love of chastity and come to them even before 
your daughter, exchanging God's first decree ^ for 
the Gospel's second dispensation. You would surely 
count as nothing your desire for other children and 
would rather offer yourself to God. But inasmuch 
as ' there is a time to embrace and a time to refrain 
from embracing,'^ and ' the wife hath not power 
over her own body,' * and ' every man should abide 
in the same calling wherein he was called ' ^ in the 
Lord, and because he who is under the yoke ought 
so to run as not to leave his companion in the 
mire, pay back in your children all that you defer 
pajring in your own person. ^Vhen Hannah had 
brought to the tabernacle the son whom she had 
vowed to God, she never took him back again, 
thinking it improper that a future prophet should 
grow up in the house of one who still desired to 
have other sons.* In fine, after she had conceived 
and borne him, she did not venture to visit the 
temple and appear before God empty-handed, but 
first paid her debt, and then after offering her 
great sacrifice returned home, and having borne her 
first son for God was then given five children for 
herself. Do you wonder at the happiness of that 
holy woman? Then imitate her faith. If you 

369 



SELECT LEITERS OF ST. JEROME 

miseris, balbutientia senex verba formabo multo 
gloriosioi* mundi philosopho, qui non regem Mace- 
donum Babylonio periturum veneno, sed ancillam et 
sponsam Christi erudiam regnis caelestibus 
ofFerendam. 

CXVII 

Ad Matrem et Filiam in Gallia Commorantes 

1. Rettui-it mihi quidam frater e Gallia se habere 
sororem virginem matreraque viduam, quae in eadem 
urbe divisis habitarent cellulis et vel ob hospitii 
solitudinem vel custodiendas facultatulas praesules 
sibi quosdam clericos adsumpsissent, ut maiori 
dedecore iungerentur alienis, quam a se fuerant 
separatae. Cumque ego ingemescerem et multo 
plura tacendo quam loquendo significarem : ' Quaeso 
te,' iriquit, ' corripias eas litteris tuis et ad con- 
cordiam revoces, ut mater filiam, filia matrem 
agnoscat.' Cui ego: ' Optimam,' inquam, 'mihi 
iniungis pi'ovinciam, ut alienus conciliem, quas filius 
fraterque non potuit, quasi vero episcopalem cathe- 
dvam teneam et non clausus cellula ac procul a turbis 
remotus vel praeterita plangam vitia vel vitare nitar 
37° 



LETfER CVII AND LETTER CX\TI 

will send us Paula, I undertake to be both her 
tutor and her foster-father. I will carry her on my 
shoulders, and my old tongue shall train her stam- 
mering lips. And I shall take more pride in my 
task than did the worldly philosopher; for I shall 
not be teaching a Macedonian king, destined to 
die by poison in Babylon, but a handmaid and bride 
of Christ who one day shall be presented to the 
heavenly throne. 

LETFER CXVII 

To A Mother and Daughter living in Gaul 

Dafigerous friendships 

Written a.d. 405 

A CERTAIN brother from Gaul told me the other day 
that he had a \irgin sister and a \ \idowe d mother 
who, though living in the same city, had separate 
apartments, and had taken to themselves clerical 
directors, either to prevent their feeling lonely, or 
else to manage their small properties ; and that by 
this union \\-ith strangers they had caused more 
scandal even than by living apart. I groaned to 
hear his tale, and by silence expressed far more than 
I could by words. ' Pray,' he continued, ' rebuke 
them in a letter and recall them to harmony, so that 
the mother may recognize her daughter, and the 
daughter her mother.' ' This is a fine commission,' 
I replied, ' that you lay upon me, that I a stranger 
should reconcile those with whom a son and brother 
has failed. You talk as though I held a bishop's 
chair instead of being confined, far from men's 
turmoil, in a tiny cell, where I lament past sins and 

371 
B B 2 



SELECT LE'rrERS OF ST. JEROME 

praesentia. Sed et incongruum est latere corpore et 
lingua per orbem vagari.' Et ille : * Nimium,' ait, 
* formidolosus ; ubi ilia quondam constantia, in qua 
multo sale urbem defrieans Lucilianum quippiam 
rettulisti?' 'Hoc est,' aio, 'quod me fugat et 
labra dividere non sinit. Postquam ergo arguendo 
crimina factus sum criminosus et iuxta tritum vulgi 
sermone proverbium iurantibus et negantibus cunctis 
me aures nee credo habere nee tango ipsique parietcs 
in me maledicta resonarunt " Et psallebant contra 
me, qui bibebant vinum," coactus malo tacere didici 
rectius esse arbitrans ponere custodiam ori meo et 
ostium munitum labiis meis, quam declinare cor in 
verba malitiae et, dum carpo vitia, in vitium detrac- 
tionis incuiTcre.' Quod cum dixissem : ' Non est,' 
inquit, ' detrahere verum dicer e, nee privata correptio 
generalem doctrinam facit, cum aut rarus aut nuUus 
sit, qui sub huius culpae reatum cadat. Quaeso ergo 
te, ne me tanto itinere vexatum frustra venisse 
patiaris. Scit enim dominus, quod post visionem 
sanctorum locorum hanc vel maxime causam habui, 
ut tuis litteris sorori me redderes et matri.' Et ego : 
' lam iam,' inquam, ' quod vis, faciam ; nam et 
epistulae transmarinae sunt et specialiter sermo dic- 
tatus raros potest invenire, quos mordeat. Te autem 
moneo, ut clam sermonem hunc habeas. Cumque 
portaveris pro viatico, si auditus fuerit, laetemur 
pariter ; sin autem contemptus, quod et magis reor, 
ego verba perdiderim, tu itineris longitudinem.' 

^ Horace, Satires, I. x. 3 : sale multo urbem defricuit. 
Lucilius was a satirist. 

^ This proverb has not been identified nor has any 
satisfactory explanation of its nature been given. 

* Psalm Ixix. 12. 

* I.e. the journey from Gaul to Palestine. 



LETTER CXVII 

try to avoid present temptations. It is inconsistent 
surely to hide one's body, and to allow one's tongue 
to roam the woi*ld.' Thereupon he answered : ' You 
are too fearful ; where now is the hardihood where- 
with, like Lucilius of old,^ you scoured the city with 
abundant salt? ' ' It is just that,' said I, ' which 
deters me and forbids me now to open my lips. 
Because I tried to convict crime I have myself been 
made out a criminal. It is like the popular proverb : ^ 
as all the world declares on oath that I have no ears, 
I believe it too and do not touch them. The very 
walls resounded Avith curses against me and " I was 
the song of drunkards." ^ I have been taught by 
painful experience to hold my tongue, and now I 
think it better to set a guard to my mouth, and keep 
the door of my lips close fastened, rather than to 
incline my heart to malicious words, and while censur- 
ing the faults of others myself to fall into that of 
detraction.* To that he said: ' Speaking the truth 
is not detraction, and a special rebuke is not a general 
lecture. There are few persons or none who are 
guilty of this particular fault. I beg you therefore 
not to let me have made this long and painful journey * 
in vain. The Lord knows that after the sight of the 
holy places my chief motive for coming was to get 
you to restore me by a letter to my mother and 
sister.' ' Well, well,' I answered, ' I will do as you 
wish. My letters will pass across the sea, and a 
discourse specially composed can seldom offend 
others. I warn you, however, to keep what I say 
private. Take it as part of your luggage, and if it 
is listened to, let us rejoice together. But if it is 
rejected, as I rather think it will be, I shall have 
wasted my words and you your long journey.' 

373 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

2. Primum scire vos cupio, soror ac filia, me non 
idcirco scribere, quia aliquid de vobis suspicer, sed, ne 
ceteri suspicentur, vestram orare concordiam. Alio- 
quin — quod absit ! — si peccati vos aestimarem glutino 
cohaesisse, numquam scriberem sciremque me surdis 
narrare fabulam. Deinde hoc obsecro, ut, si morda- 
cius quippiam scripsero, non tam meae austeritatis 
putetis esse quam morbi. Putridae carnes ferro 
curantur et cauterio, venena serpentino pelluntur 
antidoto ; quod satis dolet, maiori dolore expellitur. 
Ad extremum hoc dico, quod, etiam si conscientia 
vulnus non habeat, habet tamen fama ignominiam. 
Mater et fiha, nomina pietatis, officiorum vocabula, 
vincula naturae secundaque post Deum foederatio, 
non est laus, si vos dihgitis ; scelus est, quod odistis. 
Dominus lesus subiectus est parentibus suis : venera- 
batur matrem, cuius erat ipse pater, colebat nutri- 
cium, quem nutrierat, gestatumque se meminerat 
alterius utero, alterius brachiis. Unde et in cruce 
pendens commendat parentem discipulo, quam 
numquam ante crucem dimiserat. 

3. Tu vero, fiUa — iam enim desino ad matrem 
loqui, quam forsitan aetas et inbecilhtas ac sohtudo 
excusabilem faciunt — tu, inquam, fiha, eius domum 
angustam iudicas, cuius non tibi fuit venter angustus ? 
Decern mensibus utero clausa vixisti, et uno die in 

374 



LETTER CXVII 

The Letter 

In the first place, my sister and daughter, I wish 
you to know that I am writing not Ijecause I suspect 
anything evil of you, but that I am begging you to 
live in harmony to prevent other people becoming 
suspicious. In any case, if I had thought — far be it 
from me — that you were caught in the snares of sin, 
I should never have written, knowing that my tale 
would be addressed to deaf ears. In the second 
place, if I write at all sharply, I beg you to attribute 
it not to any harshness on my part, but to the malady 
which I am treating. When the flesh has mortified, 
cautery and the knife are the remedies ; for poison 
snake's venom is the antidote ; serious pain is cured 
by greater pain. Lastly I say this : even if your 
own conscience is unhurt, scandal brings disgrace. 
Mother and daughter I names of affection, titles of 
duties, bonds of nature, an alliance second after 
God, there is no praise if you love ; it is crime that 
you hate. Our Lord Jesus was subject to His 
parents : He reverenced the mother of whom He 
was Himself the parent : He honoured the foster- 
father whom He Himself had fostered : He remem- 
bered that the one had carried Him in her womb, 
and the other in his arms. Wherefore also when He 
was hanging on the cross, He commended to a disciple 
the mother whom before the cross He had never sent 
away. 

For the moment I say no more to the mother ; 
perhaps age, weaKness and loneliness make her 
excusable. But you, my daughter, you, I say, do 
you think that her house is too small for you whose 
womb was not too small ? You lived for ten months 
in the shelter of your mother's body ; can you not 

375 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

uno cubiculo cum matre non duras ? An oculos eius 
ferre non potes et, quia omnes motus tuos ilia, quae 
genuit, quae aluit et ad hanc perduxit aetatem, 
facilius intellegit, testem domesticam fugis ? Si 
virgo es, quid times diligentem custodiam? Si 
corrupta, cur non palam nubis? Secunda post 
naufragium tabula est, quod male coeperis, saltim 
hoc remedio temperare. Neque veto hoc dico, quo 
post peccatum tollam paenitentiam, ut, quod male 
coepit, male perseveret, sed quod desperem in istius 
modi copula divulsionem. Alioquin, si ad matrem 
migraveris post ruinam, facilius poteris cum ea 
plangere, quod per ilhus absentiam perdidisti. 
Quodsi adhuc integra es et non perdidisti, serva, ne 
perdas. Quid tibi necesse est in ea versari domo, in 
qua necesse habeas cotidie aut perire aut vincere ? 
Quisquamne mortaHum iuxta viperam securus 
somnos capit? Quae ut non percutiat, certe solh- 
citat. Securius est perire non posse quam iuxta 
periculum non perisse ; in altero tr'anquillitas est, in 
altero gubernatio, ibi gaudemus, hie evadimus. 

4. Sed forte respondeas : ' Non bene morata 
mater est, res saeculi cupit, amat divitias, ignorat 
ieiunium, oculos stibio Unit, vult compta procedere 
et nocet proposito meo nee possum cum huiusce 
modi vivere.' Primum quidem, etiam si talis est, ut 
causaris, maius habebis praemium, si talem non 



576 



LETTER CXVII 

endure to live ynth her for one day in one room? 
Or is it that you cannot bear hec eyes ? Knowing 
that she who bore you, nursed you and reared you 
understands all your movements ^^ithout difficulty, do 
you shrink from a •witness to your home life ? If you 
are a virgin, why do you fear careful guardianship ? 
If you have lost your virginity, why do you not marry 
openly ? Marriage is a raft for the shipwrecked, a 
remedy that may at least cure a bad beginning. Nor 
do I say this, because after sin I would abolish re- 
pentance, so that what began wrong may go on 
wrong; but because with connections of this sort 
I despair of a break. In any case, if you return 
to your mother after your do^vnfall, you \\'ill be 
more easily able in her company to lament that 
which you lost by separating from her. If, on the 
other hand, you are still a pure virgin and have 
not lost your chastity, guard it lest you lose it 
now. WTiy must you live in a house where you 
must every day win a battle or be ruined ? Can 
any one sleep soundly by the side of a viper ? It may 
not attack, but it certainly causes uneasiness. It is 
safer to be where you cannot possibly perish, than to 
graze the peril and just not to perish. In the first 
case, calm water; in the second, skilful steering; 
there we are gay, here we just escape. 

You may perhaps reply : ' My mother has not a 
good character, she desires the things of this world, 
she loves riches, she ignores all fasts, she rubs her 
eyes with antimony, she likes to go out in fine clothes, 
she is a danger to my vows, I cannot live with a person 
of her kind.' To begin with, even if she is the sort 
of woman you allege, you will have the greater reward 
if you refuse to desert her with all her faults. She 

377 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

^eseras. Ilia te diu portavit, diu aluit et difficiliores 
infantiae mores blanda pictate sustinuit. Lavit 
pannorum sordes et inmundo saepe foedata est 
stercore. Adsedit aegrotanti et, quae propter te 
sua fastidia sustinuerat, tua quoque passa est. Ad 
hanc perduxit aetatem ; ut Christum amares, docuit. 
Non tibi displiceat eius conversatio, quae'te sponso 
tuo virginem consecravit. Quodsi ferri non potest et 
delicias eius fugis at que, ut vulgo soletis dicere, 
saecularis est mater, habes alienas virgines, habes 
sanctum pudicitiae chorum. Quid matrem deserens 
eum eligis, qui suam forsitan sororem reliquit et 
matrem ? Ilia difficilis, sed iste facilis ; ilia iurgatrix, 
iste placabilis. Quern quaero utrum secuta sis an 
postea inveneris. Si secuta es, manifestum est, cur 
matrem reliqueris ; si postea repperisti, ostendis, 
quid in matris hospitio non potueris invenire. Durus 
doctor et meo mucrone me vulnerans : ' Qui ambulat,' 
inquit, ' simpliciter, ambulat confident er.' Tacerem, 
si me remorderet conscientia, et in aliis meum crimen 
non reprehenderem nee per trabem oculi mei alterius 
festucam viderem. Nunc autem, cum inter fratres 
procul habitans eorumque fruens contubernio honeste 
sub arbitris et videam raro et videar, inpudentissi- 

^ Proverbs, x. 9. 
378 



LETTER CX\TI 

carried you long, and she nursed you for many 
months ; her gentle love bore with the peevish ways 
of your infancy. She washed your soiled napkins and 
often dirtied her hands with their nastiness. She sat 
by your bed when you were ill and was patient with 
your sickness, even as she had before endured the 
sickness of maternity which you caused. She 
brought you up to womanhood ; she taught you to 
love Christ. The company of one who consecrated 
you as a \irgin to your Spouse ought not to be dis- 
tasteful to you. Still, if you cannot put up ^\^th her 
and her fashionable ways, if she is really, as people 
say, a worldly mother, there are Wrgins of other 
families, a holy company of chaste maidens, with 
whom you might live. WTiy, when you desert your 
mother, do you choose a man who perhaps has left 
a sister and mother of his o\\ti ? She is hard to get 
on with, you ^\i\\ say, he is easy ; she is fond of 
quarrels, he is amiable. Well, I have one question 
to ask : did you leave your mother to follow this man 
or did you come upon him after you had left her ? 
In the first case, it is plain why you deserted your 
parent; in the second, you reveal clearly what it 
was that you could not find under your mother's 
roof. A stem teacher, who wounds me with my 
ov^Ti scalpel, says : ' He that walketh uprightly 
walketh surely.' ^ If I had a guilty conscience I 
would hold my tongue, and not blame in others an 
offence which I myself commit, nor see the mote in 
my neighbour's eye through the beam in my o>vn. 
But as it is, since I live far away in a community of 
brothers whose society, as witnesses can testify, I 
honourably enjoy, rarely seeing or being seen by 
other men, it would be the height of shamelessness 

379 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

mum est eius te verecundiam non sequi, cuius te 
sequi testeris exemplum. Quodsi dixeris : ' Et 
mihi sufficit conscientia mea ; habeo Deum iudicem, 
qui meae vitae testis est ; non euro, quid loquantur 
homines,' audi apostolum sci-ibentem : ' Providentes 
bona non solum coram Deo, sed etiam hominibus.' 
Si quis te carpit, quod sis Christiana, quod virgo, ne 
cures, quod ideo dimiseris matrem, ut in monasterio 
inter virgines viveres ; tahs detractio laus tua est. 
Ubi non luxuria in puella Dei, sed duritia carpitur, 
crudeUtas ista pietas est. Ilium enim praefers matri, 
quern praeferre iuberis et animae tuae. Quem si et 
ipsa praetulerit, et fiham te sentiet et sororem. 

5. Quid igitur? Scelus est sancti viri habere 
contubernium ? Obtorto collo me in ius trahis, ut aut 
probem, quod nolo, aut multorum invidiam subeam. 
Sanctus vir numquam filiam a matre seiungit ; utram- 
que suspicit, utramque veneratur. Sit quamlibet 
sancta filia, mater vidua indicium castitatis est. Si 
coaevus tuus est ille nescio quis, matrem tuam 
honoret et suam; si senior, te ut filiam diligat et 
parentis subiciat disciphnae. Non expedit amborum 
famae plus te ilium amare quam matrem, ne non 
videatur affectum in te eligere, sed aetatem. Et 

^ Romans, xii. 17. 
380 



LETTER CXVII 

for you not to adopt the modest life of the man whom 
vou profess to have taken as your exemplar. You 
may reply : ' For me also my own conscience is 
sufficient. God is my judge who is ^vitness of my 
life. I care not what men may say.' Listen then 
to the apostle's words : ' Pro\ide things honest not 
only in the sight of God but also in the sight of men.' ^ 
Heed it not if anyone criticizes you for being a 
Christian and a \irgin, and for haxing left your 
mother to live in a monastery with other \ii-gins. 
Such censure is your truest praise. \Mien men blame 
one of God's maidens, not for self-indulgence, but for 
sternness, what they call cruelty is really devotion. 
You are preferring to your mother Him whom you 
are bidden to prefer to your o^m soul. And if she 
herself should ever also thus prefer Him, she %\ill 
find in you both a daughter and a sister. 

' \Miat ! ' you may say, ' is it a crime to live under 
the same roof A^th a holy man ? ' You drag me by 
the scruff of the neck into court, and give me choice 
either to approve against my will, or else incur 
odium from many. A holy man never separates a 
daughter from her mother : he respects them both, 
he regards both of them with reverence. However 
saintly a daughter may be, a Addowed mother is 
warranty of her chastity. If this man of yours is o: 
the same age as you are, he should honour your 
mother as his own ; if he is your elder, he should 
love you as a daughter and submit you to a mother's 
discipline. It is not expedient, for your reputation 
or for his, that he should love you more than he 
loves your mother: so that he may not seem to 
make his choice in you not of your affection but 
of your youth. And I should still say this, if you 



SELECT LETfERS OF ST. JEROME 

hoc dicerem, si fratrem monachum non haberes, si 
domesticis careres praesidiis ; nunc vero, pro dolor, 
inter matrem atque germanum — et matrem viduam 
fratremque monachum — cur se alienus interserit ? 
Bonum quidem est, ut te et filiam noveris et sororem ; 
si autem utrumque non potes et mater quasi dura 
respuitur, saltim frater placeat. Si frater asperior 
est, moUior sit ilia, quae genuit. Quid palles? 
Quid aestuas? Quid vultum rubore suffundis et 
trementibus labiis inpatientiam pectoris contestaris ? 
Non superat amorem matris et fratris nisi solus 
uxoris afFectus. 

6. Audio praeterea te suburbana, villarum amoeni- 
tates cum adfinibus et cognatis et istius modi genus 
hominibus circumire. Nee dubito, quin vel conso- 
brina vel soror sit, in quarum solacium novi generis 
ducaris adsecula — absit quippe, ut, quamvis proximi 
sint et cognati, virorum te suspicer captare con- 
sortia — obsecro ergo te, virgo, ut mihi respondeas : 
sola vadis in comitatu propinquorum an cum amasio 
tuo ? Quamvis sis inpudens, saecularium oculis eum 
ingerere non audebis. Si enim hoc feceris, et te et 
ilium familia universa cantabit, vos cunctorum digiti 
denotabunt, ipsa quoque soror aut adfinis sive 
cognata, quae in adulationem tui sanctum et nonnum 
382 



LEITER CXVII 

had no brother who is a monk, if you lacked 
protectors at home. But as things stand, why 
does a stranger — O grievous thought ! — thrust him- 
self in between you and your mother and brother, 
your mother a widow and your brother a monk ? 
It would be a good thing for you to know that you 
are both a daughter and a sister. But if you cannot 
do both, and if your palate rejects your mother as 
being a rough wine, your brother at least should 
prove satisfactory. If he should be somewhat 
harsh, then she who bore you may seem more mellow. 
Why do you turn pale ? ^^^ly does your bosom heave ? 
Why do your hot blushes and quivering lips confess 
your restlessness ? Nothing can overcome a woman's 
love for a mother and a brother, except only the 
passion of a wife. 

I hear, moreover, that you go the round of suburban 
retreats and pleasant country houses in company 
with your relatives and connections by marriage and 
such like intimate friends. Nor do I doubt, that 
there is some female cousin or sister, for whose 
comfort you may be taken as a new sort of attend- 
ant — indeed, far be it from me to suppose, that 
although they may be members of your own 
family, you angle for the society of men — and 
so I pray you, my virgin, tell me this : do you 
appear alone in your kinsfolk's society or do you 
take your sweetheart with you ? However shame- 
less you may be, you will scarcely dare to flaunt 
him in the eyes of worldly people. For if you 
should do so, your entire family will make a song of 
you and him ; every finger ^\ill be pointed at the pair 
of you ; even your sister or kinswoman or relative, 
who in your presence to flatter you calls him a monk 

383 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

coram te vocant, cum se paululum converterit, 
portentosum ridebit maritum. Sin autem sola 
ieris — quod et magis aestimo — utique inter servos 
adulescentes, inter maritas feminas atque nupturas, 
inter lascivas puellas et comatos linteatosque iuvenes 
furvarum vestium puella gradieris. Dabit tibi 
barbatulus quilibet manum, sustentabit lassam et 
pressis digitis aut temptabitur aut temptabit. Erit 
tibi inter viros matronasque convivium; expectabis 
aliena oscula, praegustatos cibos et absque scandalo 
tuo in aliis sericas vestes auratasque miraberis. In 
ipso quoque convivio, ut vescaris carnibus, quasi 
invita cogeris, ut vinum bibas, Dei laudabitur 
creatura, ut laves balneis, sordibus detrahetur; et 
omnes te, cum aliquid eorum, quae suadent, retractans 
feceris, puram, simplicem, dominam et vere ingenuam 
conclamabunt. Personabit interim aliquis cantator 
ad mensam et inter psalmos dulci modulatione 
currentes, quoniam alienas non audebit uxores, te, 
quae custodem non habes, saepius respectabit. 
Loquetur nutibus et, quidquid metuet dicere, signifi- 
cabit affectibus. Inter has et tantas inlecebras 
voluptatum etiam ferreas mentes libido domat, quae 
maiorem in virginibus patitur famem, dum dulcius 
putat omne, quod nescit. Narrant gentilium fabulae 

384 



LETTER CXVII 

and a holy man, will laugh behind his back at your 
fright of a husband. If, on the other hand, you go 
out alone — which I rather suppose — you, a girl in 
your dark clothes, \\'ill be one of a party of youthful 
attendants, married women and women soon to be 
brides, pleasure-loving damsels, and young fops with 
long hair and close-fitting tunics. Some boy with a 
little beard Avill give you his arm, and hold you up if 
you are tired, and as your fingers squeeze he will either 
be tempted himself or will tempt you. You will sit 
down to table with married men and women ; you 
will wait till the others have finished kissing and the 
dishes have been tasted, and without making any 
protest will admire the silk dresses and the gold 
brocade that the others are wearing. At the dinner 
itself they will pretend you are unwilling and will 
force you to partake of the meat ; to get you to 
drink wine, they will praise it as the gift of the 
Creator. To induce you to visit the baths, they will 
speak of dirt with disgust. And when you reluctantly 
do something of what they would have you do, they 
will cry out in chorus : ' \\Tiat a frank, innocent girl 
she is ! What a genuine lady ! ' Meanwhile some 
singer will come into the dining-room, and as he per- 
forms a selection of soft flowing airs, he will not 
dare to look at other men's wives, but he will very 
often glance at you, who have no protector. He will 
speak by gestures, and a meaning emphasis in his 
voice will convey what he is afraid to put into words. 
Amid such strong allurements to pleasure as these 
even iron wills are overcome by desire, which in 
the case of virgins is the sharper set because it 
thinks that anything of which it knows nothing is 
especially delightful. Heathen legends tell us that 

385 
cc 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

cantibus sirenarum nautas in saxa praecipites et ad 
Orphei citharam arbores bestiasque ac silicum dura 
mollita. Difficile inter epulas servatur pudicitia. 
Nitens cutis sordidum ostentat animum. 

7. Legimus in scolis pueri — et spiritantia in plateis 
aera conspeximus — aliquem ossibus vix haerentem 
inlicitis arsisse amoribus et ante vita caruisse quam 
peste. Quid tu facies, puella sani corporis, delicata, 
pinguis, rubens, aestuans inter carnes, inter vina et 
balneas, iuxta maritas, iuxta adulescentulos ? Etsi 
rogata non dederis, tamen formae putes testimonium, 
si rogeris. Libidinosa mens ardentius honesta perse- 
quitur et, quod non licet, dulcius suspicatur. Vestis 
ipsa vilis et pulla animi tacentis indicium est, si 
rugam non habeat, si per terram, ut altior videaris, 
trahatur, si de industria dissuta sit tunica, ut aliquid 
intus appareat operiatque, quod foedum est, et 
aperiat, quod formosum. Caliga quoque ambulantis 
nigella ac nitens stridore iuvenes ad se vocat. 
Papillae fasciolis conprirauntur et crispanti cingulo 
angustius pectus artatur. Capilli vel in frontem vel 
in aures defluunt. Palliolum interdum cadit, ut 
candidos nudet umeros, et, quasi videri noluerit, 
celat festina, quod volens retraxerat. Et quando in 
publico quasi per verecundiam operit faciem, lupa- 

^ Virgil, Eclogues, III. 102 : vix ossibus kaerent. 
386 



LETTER CXVII 

the songs of the sirens drew sailors headlong on to 
their rocks, and that trees and beasts and hard stones 
were all softened by the music of Orpheus' lyre. At 
a banquet it is hard to preserve one's chastity. A 
sleek skin is the sure sign of a foul mind. 

When I was a boy at school I read of a man — and in 
the streets I have since seen his living image in 
bronze — -who burned with unlawful passion even 
when his flesh scarcely clung to his bones,^ and who 
passed away from life with his malady still unhealed. 
WTiat then will you do, a healthy young girl, 
dainty, plump, rosy, all afire amid the fleshpots, 
amid the A«nes and baths, side by side with 
married women, with young men ? Even if you 
refuse to give what they ask for, you may think 
that the asking is evidence of your beauty. A 
libertine is all the more ardent when he is pursuing 
virtue, and thinks that the unlawful is especially 
delightful. Your very robe, coarse and sombre 
though it be, betrays your unexpressed desires, 
if it be %nthout crease, if it be trailed upon the 
ground to make you seem taller, if your vest be 
slit on purpose to let something be seen within, 
hiding that which is unsightly and disclosing that 
which is fair. As you walk along, your shiny 
black shoes by their creaking give an invitation to 
young men. Your breasts are confined in strips of 
linen, and your chest is imprisoned close by a tight 
girdle. Your hair comes down over your forehead or 
over your ears. Your shawl sometimes drops, so as 
to leave your white shoulders bare, and then, as 
though unwilling to be seen, it hastily hides what 
it intentionally revealed. And when in public it 
hides the face in a pretence of modesty, with a 

387 
c c 2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

narum arte id solum ostendit, quod ostensum magis 
placere potest. 

8. Respondebis : ' Unde me nosti ? et quomodo 
tam longe in me iactas oeulos tuos ? ' Fratris hoc 
tui mihi narravere lacrimae et intolerabiles per 
momenta singultus. Atque utinam ille mentitus sit 
et magis timens hoc quam arguens dixerit ! Sed 
mihi crede, soror : nemo mentiens plorat. Dolet 
sibi praelatum iuvenem, non quidem comatum, non 
vestium sericarum, sed trossulum et in sordibus 
delicatum, qui ipse sacculum signet, textrinum teneat, 
pensa distribuat, regat familiam, emat quicquid de 
publico necessarium est, dispensator et dominus et 
praeveniens officula servulorum, quem omnes rodant 
famuli, et quicquid domina non dederit, ilium clami- 
tent subtraxisse. Querulum servulorum genus est 
et, quantumcumque dederis, semper eis minus est. 
Non enim considerant de quanto, sed quantum detur, 
doloremque suum solis, quod possunt, detracta- 
tionibus consolantur. Ille parasitum, iste inpostorem, 
hie heredipetam, alius novo quolibet appellat vocabulo. 
Ipsum iactant adsidere lectulo, obstetrices adhibere 
languenti, portare matulam, calefacere lintea, plicare 
fasciolas. Facilius mala credunt homines et quod- 
cumque domi fingitur, rumor in publico fit. Nee 
mireris, si ancillae et servuli de vobis ista confingant, 
cum mater quoque id ipsum queratur et frater. 
388 



LETTER CXVII 

harlot's skill it shows only those features which give 
men when shown more pleasure. 

You will reply : ' From what source do you know 
all this about me ? How could you ever have set 
eyes upon me when you live so far away ? ' Your 
brother's tears told me this and his scarcely endur- 
able outbursts of sobbing. Would that he may have 
spoken falsely, would that his words may have been 
the expression of fears, not of facts ! But believe 
me, sister ; no one ever weeps when he is lying. He 
is indignant that a young man is preferred to him- 
self, not indeed a long-haired fop in silk clothes, 
but still a coxcomb dainty even in his squalor, a 
rogue who puts his own seal on your purse, manages 
the weaving, apportions the wool to be spun, directs 
the household, and buvs all that is needed in the 
market. He is both steward and master, and 
anticipates the servants in all their duties, so that the 
whole household have their teeth in him and protest 
that he has filched all that their mistress does not 
give them. Servants are always full of complaints, 
and, however much you give them, it is too little. 
They do not consider how much you have, but only 
how much they get, and they console their indigna- 
tion in the only way they can, by finding fault. 
One calls him a parasite, another an incubus, another 
a legacy-hunter, another any fresh name he can 
invent. They put it about that he sits at your bed- 
side, fetches nurses when you feel unwell, removes 
the slops, makes you warm bandages, and folds 
compresses. People are only too ready to believe 
evil, and tales invented within doors soon get noised 
abroad. Nor need you wonder that your maids and 
footmen invent such tales about you both, when even 
your mother and brother make similar complaints. 

389 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

9. Fac igitur, quod moneo, quod precor, ut primum 
matri, dehinc, si id fieri non potest, saltim fratri 
reconcilieris. Aut si ista tarn cara nomina hostiliter 
detestaris, dividere ab eo, quern tuis diceris praetu- 
lisse. Si autem et hoc non potes — reverteris enim 
ad tuos, si ilium possis deserere — vel honestius sodali 
tuo utere. Separentur domus vestrae dividaturque 
convivium, ne maledici homines sub uno tectulo vos 
manentes lectulum quoque criminentur habere 
communem. Potes et ad necessitates tuas, quale 
voluisti, habere solacium et aliqua ex parte publica 
carere infamia, quamquam cavenda sit macula, 
quae nullo nitro secundum Hieremiam, nulla 
fullonum herba lui potest. Quando vis, ut te videat 
— et inviset — adhibe arbitros amicos, libertos, servu- 
los. Bona conscientia nullius oculos fugiet. Intret 
intrepidus, securus exeat. Taciti oculi et sermo 
silens et totius corporis habitus vel trepidationem 
interdum vel securitatem loquuntur. Aperi, quaeso, 
aures tuas et clamorem totius civitatis exaudi. 
lam perdidisti vestra vocabula et mutuo ex vobis 
cognomina suscepistis : tu illius diceris et ille tuus. 
Hoc mater audit et frater paratique sunt et precantur 
vos sibi dividere et privatam vestrae coniunctionis 
infamiam laudem facere communem. Tu esto cum 
matre, sit ille cum fratre. Audentius diliges ^ 
sodalem fratris tui : honestius amabit mater amicum 
filii quam filiae suae. Quodsi nolueris, si mea 

1 diliges : Hilberg. 



^ Jeremiah, 11. 20, 22 : ' playing the harlot.' 
39° 



LETTER CXVII 

Do, therefore, what I advise and pray you to do. 
Be reconciled >vith your mother : if that is impossible, 
at least make peace A^ith your brother. Or, if you 
abominate those dear names, separate yourself from 
the man whom you are said to have preferred to 
your own people. If even this you cannot do — for 
you would return to your o^^-n folk if you could bear 
to leave him — pay more regard to appearances in 
your dealings with your friend. Live in separate 
houses and take your meals apart ; if you stay under 
one roof, slanderers ^\^ll accuse you of sharing one 
bed together. You can thus have the help you 
wished for when you need it, and to a certain degree 
avoid public disgrace. Not but what you must 
ever beware of that stain which Jeremiah ^ tells us 
no nitre or fuller's soap can wash out. When you wish 
him to see you — and he will visit you — have people 
in the room ^Wth you, friends or freedmen or slaves. 
A good conscience \n\\ shrink from no man's gaze. 
Let him come in ■without embarrassment and go 
away without anxiety. Silent looks, unspoken 
words, a man's whole bearing, at times spell uneasi- 
ness, at other times security. Pray, open your ears 
and listen to the outcry of the whole city. You two 
have already lost your o^vn names and interchanged 
them for new ones : he is kno-vvn as your man and you 
as his woman. Your mother and your brother have 
heard this talk, and they are ready each to take one 
of you, begging you thus to turn a private disgrace 
into a common glorj'. You can live with your 
mother, he with your brother. You may then more 
boldly show affection for your brother's friend : 
your mother may with more propriety love her son's 
comrade than she could her daughter's. But if you 

391 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

monita rugata fronte contempseris, epistula tibi 
haec voce libei*a proclamabit : ' Quid alienum servum 
obsides ? Quid ministrum Christi tuum famulum 
facis ? Respice ad populum, singulorum facies 
intuere. Ille in ecclesia legit et te aspiciunt universi, 
nisi quod paene licentia coniugali de tua infamia glori- 
aris nee iam secreto dedecore potes esse contenta ; 
procacitatem libertatem vocas. " Facies meretricis 
facta est tibi, nescis erubescere." ' 

10. Iterum me malignum, iterum suspiciosum, 
iterum rumigerulum clamitas. Egone suspiciosus, 
egone malivolus, qui, ut in principio epistulae prae- 
fatus sum, ideo scripsi, quia non suspicabar, an tu 
negligens, dissoluta, contemptrix, quae annis nata 
viginti et quinque adulescentem necdum bene 
barbatulum ita brachiis tuis quasi cassibus inclusisti ? 
Optimum re vera paedagogum, qui te moneat, qui 
asperitate frontis exterreat et, quamquam in nullis 
aetatibus libido sit tuta, tamen vel cano capite ab 
aperta defendat ignominia ! Veniet, veniet tempus 
— dies adlabitur, dum ignoras — et iste formosulus 
tuus, quia cito senescunt mulieres, maxime quae 
iuxta viros sunt, vel ditiorem reperiet vel iuniorem. 
Tunc te paenitebit pertinaciae, quando et rem et 
famam amiseris, quando, quod male iunctum fuerat, 
dividetur bene, nisi forte secura es et coalescente 
tanti temporis caritate discidium non vereris. 

^ Jeremiah, iii. 3. 



LETTER CXVII 

still refuse, if with wrinkled brow you reject my 
warning, then this letter will cry aloud to you with 
unchecked voice. ' Why,' it will say, ' do you besiege 
another's servant ? Why do you make Christ's 
minister your slave ? Look at the people and 
regard each individual face. When he is reading 
in church the whole congregation fix their eyes on 
you : but you perhaps with almost a wife's reckless- 
ness glory in your shame, and secret disgrace no 
longer satisfies you ; you call boldness freedom. " You 
have a whore's forehead and refuse to be ashamed." ' ^ 
Again you cry out that I am a malignant, that I 
am suspicious, that I am a scandal-monger. Am 
I truly suspicious or malignant, I who, as I said 
at the beginning of this letter, only took up my 
pen because I felt no suspicions of you ? Is it 
not you rather who are careless, loose and scorn- 
ful, you who at the age of twenty-five have caught 
in the snare of your arms a youth whose beard has 
hardly grown ? A fine instructor in truth he must 
be, able to advise, by stern looks to frighten, and 
even by his grey hair to defend you from open 
shame ! Not but what lust is never safe at any 
time of life. The day will surely, surely come — 
for time glides on while you notice it not — -when 
your handsome youngster will find a richer or a 
more youthful mistress. Women soon grow old, 
especially when they live with a man at their side. 
You will be sorry for your decision and regret your 
obstinacy, on the day when you find property and 
reputation gone and this unhappy union happily 
broken — unless perhaps you feel quite at ease, and 
seeing that your affection has had so long a time to 
become established, you have no fear of a rupture. 

393 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

IL Tu quoque, mater, quae propter aetatem 
maledicta non metuis, noli sic vindicari, ut pecces. 
Magis a te discat filia separari, quam tu ab ilia dis- 
iungi. Habes filium et filiam et generum, immo 
contubernalem filiae tuae ; quid quaeris aliena 
solacia et ignes lam sopitos suscitas ? Honestius 
tibi est saltim culpam filiae sustentare quam occa- 
sionem tuae quaerere. Sit tecum filius monachus, 
pietatis viduitatisque praesidium. Quid tibi alienum 
hominem in ea praesertim domo, quae filium et 
filiam capere non potuit? Eius iam aetatis es, ut 
possis nepotes habere de filia. Invita ad te utrumque . 
Revertatur cum viro, quae sola exierat — virum dixi, 
non maritum ; nemo calumnietur : sexum significare 
volui, ne coniugium — aut, si erubescit et retractat et 
domum, in qua nata est, arbitratur angustam, vos 
ad eius hospitiolum pergite. Quamvis artum sit, 
facilius potest matrem et fratrem capere quam 
alienum hominem, cum quo certe in uno cubiculo 
manere non poterat. Sint in una domo duae feminae, 
duo masculi. Sin autem et tertius ille y7;po/8ocrK6s 
tuus abire non vult et seditiones ac turbas concitat, 
sit biga, sit triga, frater vester ac filius et sororem 
illis exhibebit et matrem. Alii vitricum et generum 
vocent, ille nutricium appellet et fratrem. 



^ Jerome insists that the brother should live in the house ; 
preferably with one other man — his sister's mate — but even 
if the mother's male friend remains the brother must stay : 
thus there are either two men or three men in the 
establishment. 

394 



LETTER CXVII 

As for you, my friend's mother, your age frees 
you from any fear of scandal ; but do not think that 
it gives you hberty to do wrong. Your daughter 
should rather learn from you how to separate from a 
companion than you be taught by her how to break 
away from a paramour. You have a son and a 
daughter and a son-in-law, or rather a man who 
lives under your daughter's roof. Why seek other 
consolations or try to wake sleeping fires ? It would 
at least be more respectable for you to screen your 
daughter's fault than to seek in it an occasion for 
wrongdoing on your o^vn part. Let your son who is 
a monk live with you and strengthen you in your 
natural affection and in your vow of widowhood. 
Why do you have a stranger in the house that could 
not hold a son and a daughter ? You are old enough 
now to have grandchildren by your daughter. Invite 
the pair to your home. Let her return with her man, 
she who went out alone. I say ' man,' not ' husband' ; 
so no one need cavil ; I merely refer to his sex and 
not to any conjugal relationship. If she is ashamed 
and hangs back, and thinks the house where she was 
born is too small for her, then let all of you move to 
her lodging. However cramped it may be, it can 
more easily contain a mother and a brother than it 
could a strange man, for surely she could not have 
remained in the same bedroom with him. Let there 
be two females and two males in the one house. 
But if the third male too, that ' nurturer of your 
old age,' refuses to leave you and stirs up quarrels 
and confusion, be it a team of two, be it a team of 
three, he who is both brother and son will offer to 
the other men a sister and a mother.^ Others 
may speak of them as step-father and son-in-law : 
your son must call them foster-father and brother. 

395 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

12. Haec ad brevem lucubratiunculam celeri 
sermone dictavi volens desiderio postulantis satis- 
facere et quasi ad scholasticam materiam me exercens 
— eadem enim die mane pulsabat ostium, qui pro- 
fecturus erat — simulque, ut ostenderem obtrectatori- 
bus meis, quod et ego possim, quicquid venerit in 
buceam, dicere. Unde et de scripturis pauea 
perstrinxi nee orationem meam, ut in ceteris libris 
facere solitus sum, illarum floribus texui. Extempor- 
alis est dictio et tanta ad lumen lucernulae facultate 
perfusa, ut notariorum manus lingua praecurreret et 
signa ac furta verborum volubilitas sermonis obrueret. 
Quod ideirco dixi, ut, qui non ignoscit ingenio, 
ignoscat vel tempori. 

cxxv 

AD RUSTICUM MONACHUM 

L Nihil Christiano felicius, cui promittuntur 
regna caelorum ; nihil laboriosius, qui cotidie de vita 
perielitatur. Nihil fortius, qui vincit diabolum ; 
nihil inbecillius, qui a carne superatur. Utriusque rei 
exempla sunt plurima. Latro credidit in cruce et 



^ Probably Rusticus of Narbonne ; following Jerome's 
advice he entered a monastery, was ordained later and 
consecrated Bishop of Narbonne 430. 



LETTER CXVII AND LETTER CXX\' 

Note 

I dictated this letter, talking quickly, in the 
space of one short night, wishing to satisfy a friend's 
earnest request and to try my hand, as it were, upon 
a scholastic subject — for that same morning my 
visitor, who was on the point of departure, knocked 
at my door — and at the same time, wishing to show 
my detractors that I too can say the first thing that 
comes into my head. I therefore introduced few 
quotations from the Scriptures and did not interweave 
my discourse with its flowers, as I have done in my 
other books. I extemporized as I went, and by the 
light of one small lamp poured forth my words in 
such profusion, that my tongue outstripped my 
secretaries' pens and my volubility baffled the tricks 
of their shorthand. I say this that those who make 
no excuses for lack of ability may make some for 
lack of time. 

LETTER CXX\' 

To RusTicus^ 

Good and had monks 

Written a.d. 411 

Nothing is happier than the Chiistian, for to him 
is promised the kingdom of heaven : nothing is more 
toil-worn, for every day he goes in danger of his life. 
Nothing is stronger than he is, for he triumphs over 
the devil ; nothing is weaker, for he is conquered 
by the flesh. There are many examples of the truth 
of both statements. The robber on the cross 
beUeved, and it was immediately vouchsafed him 

397 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

statim meretur audire : ' Amen, amen dico tibi : 
hodie mecum eris in paradiso.' ludas de apostolatus 
fastigio in proditionis tartarum labitur et nee fa- 
miliaritate convivii nee intinctione buccellae nee 
osculi gratia frangitur, ne quasi hominem tradat, 
quern filium Dei noverat. Quid Samaritana vilius ? 
Non solum ipsa credidit et post sex vires unum 
invenit dominum Messiamque cognoscit ad fontem, 
quem in templo ludaeorum populus ignorabat, sed 
auctor fit multorum salutis et apostolis ementibus 
cibos esurientem refieit lassumque sustentat. Quid 
Salomone sapientius ? Attamen infatuatur amoribus 
feminarum. ' Bonum est sal ' nullumque sacri- 
ficium absque huius aspersione suscipitur — unde et 
apostolus praecipit : ' Sermo vester sit sale con- 
ditus ' — quod, si infatuetur, foras proicitur in tan- 
tumque perdit nominis dignitatem, ut ne in ster- 
quilinio quidem utile sit, quo solent credentium arva 
condiri et sterile animarum solum pinguescere. 
Haec dicimus, ut prima te, fili Rustice, fronte do- 
ceamus magna coepisse, excelsa sectari et adules- 
centiae, immo pubertatis, ineentiva calcantem per- 
fectae quidem aetatis gradum scandere, sed lubricum 
iter est, per "quod ingrederis, nee • tantam sequi 
gloriam post victoriam, quantam ignominiam post 
ruinam. 

2. Non mihi nunc per virtutum prata ducendus es 
nee laborandum ut ostendam tibi variorum pulchri- 

1 St. Luke, xxiii. 43. « Colossians, iv. 6. ' Matt. v. 13. 
398 



LETTER CXXV 

to hear the words : ' Verily I say unto thee, to-day 
shalt thou be with me in Paradise.' ^ Judas on 
the other hand fell from his high place as apostle 
into the traitor's hell, and neither by the close inter- 
course of the banquet nor by the dipping of the 
sop nor by the grace of Christ's kiss was he pre- 
vented from betraying as man Him whom he had 
knowTi as the Son of God. What could be of less 
worth than the woman of Samaria ? Yet not only 
did she herself beheve, and after her six husbands 
find one Lord, not only did she recognize at the well 
the Messiah whom the Jews failed to recognize in 
the temple ; she brought salvation to many, and 
while the apostles were buying food she comforted 
Him who was hungry and weary. What could be 
^^■iser than Solomon ? Yet he was rendered foolish 
by his love of women. ' Salt is good,' and no sacrifice 
is received unless it is sprinkled with it. Therefore 
it was that the apostle gave command: ' Let your 
speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt.' ^ 
But if salt has lost its savour, it is cast out,^ and so 
completely loses its credit that it is not even useful 
on the dunghill to season believers' fields and enrich 
the barren soil of their souls. I say all this, my son 
Rusticus, because in the forefront of this treatise I 
would teach the greatness of your undertaking and 
the loftiness of your goal. You must know that only 
by treading underfoot the allurements of youth and 
early manhood can you climb to the heights of perfect 
maturity. The path you tread is slipperj', and the 
glory of success is less than the disgrace of failure. 

It is not my task now to lead you through the 
meadows of virtue, nor need I labour to show you 
the beauty of their gay blossoms, the purity of the 

399 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

tudinem florum, quid in se lilia habeant puritatis, 
quid rosarum verecundia possideat, quid violae 
purpura promittat in regno, quid rutilantium spon- 
deat pictura gemmarum. lam enim propitio domino 
stivam tenes, iam in tectum atque solarium cum 
Petro apostolo conscendisti, qui esuriens in ludaeis 
Cornelii saturatur fide et famem incredulitatis eorum 
gentium conversione restinguit atque in vase evan- 
geliorum quadrangulo, quod de caelo descendit ad 
terras, docetur et discit omnes homines posse salvari. 
Rursumque, quod viderat, in specie candidissimi 
linteaminis in superna transfertur et credentium 
turbas de terris in caelum rapit, ut pollicitatio domini 
conpleatur: ' Beati mundo corde, quoniam ipsi 
Deum videbunt.' Totum, quod adprehensa manu 
insinuare tibi cupio, quod quasi doctus nauta post 
multa naufragia rudem conor instruere vectorem, 
illud est, ut, in quo litore pudicitiae pirata sit, noveris, 
ubi Charybdis et radix omnium malorum avaritia, ubi 
Scyllaei obtrectatorum canes, de quibus apostolus 
loquitur : ' Ne mordentes invicem mutuo consu- 
mamini,' quomodo in media tranquillitate securi 
Libycis interdum vitiorum Syrtibus obruamur, quid 
venenatorum animantium desertum huius saeculi 
nutriat. 

3. Navigantes Rubrum Mare, in quo optandum 
nobis est ut verus Pharao cum suo mergatur exercitu, 
multis difficultatibus ac periculis ad urbem Abisamam 
perveniunt. Utroque litore gentes vagae, immo 



1 Acts X. 9-16. 2 St. Matthew, v. 8. 

' Galatians, v. 15. * A city of Arabia Felix. 



400 



LETTER CXXV 

lilies, the modesty of the roses, and the sure proii^.. 
of the kingdom given by the violet's purple and the 
jewelled brilliance of each painted flower. By God's 
favour you have already put your hand to the plough, 
and have already climbed up to the house-top and the 
terrace like the apostle Peter, who when he was 
hungry among the Jews was satisfied by the faith of 
Cornelius and appeased the cravings caused through 
their unbelief by the conversion of the Gentiles, being 
taught by the four-cornered vessel of the Gospels let 
down from heaven to earth that it was possible for all 
men to be saved.^ And then, again, the fair white 
sheet which he saw in his \ision was taken up, carry- 
ing hosts of believers from earth to heaven, that the 
promise of the Lord might be fulfilled : ' Blessed are 
the pure in heart, for they shall see God.' - In all 
this I only wish to take you by the hand and convey 
to you certain knowledge. Like an experienced 
sailor who has been in many a shipwreck, I seek to 
instruct a novice, and to tell you where you will find 
the pirates who would rob you of chastity, where 
lies the Chary bdis of avarice, root of all e\ils, where 
are Scylla's dogs, those calumniators of whom the 
apostle says : ' If ye bite and devour one another, 
take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.' ^ 
I would warn you too that sometimes as we sail at 
ease in calm weather we may be sucked down by the 
quicksands of vice, and that many venomous creatures 
have their home in the desert of this world. 

Those who navigate the Red Sea, where we must 
hope that the real Pharaoh may be drowned with 
all his host, have to face many difficulties and dangers 
before they reach the city of Abisama.'* Both shores 
are infested by nomad tribes and savage beasts. 

401 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

beluae habitant ferocissimae. Semper solliciti, 
semper armati totius anni vehunt cibaria. Latenti- 
bus saxis vadisque durissimis plena sunt omnia, ita ut 
speculator et ductor in summa mali arbore sedeat et 
inde regendae et circumflectendae navis dictata 
praedicat. Felix cursus est, si post sex menses 
supra dictae urbis portum teneant, a quo se incipit 
aperire oceanus, per quern vix anno perpetuo ad 
Indiam pervenitur et ad Gangem fluvium — quern 
Phison sancta scriptura cognominat — qui circuit 
omnem terram Evilat et multa genera pigmentorum 
de paradisi dicitur fonte evehere. Ibi nascitur 
carburiculus et zmaragdus et margarita candentia et 
uniones, quibus nobilium feminarum ardet ambitio, 
montesque aurei, quos adire propter dracones et 
gryphas et inmensorum corporum monstra hominibus 
inpossibile est, ut ostendatur nobis, quales eustodes 
habeat avaritia. 

4. Quorsum ista? Perspicuum est. Si negotia- 
tores saeculi tanta sustinent, ut ad incertas per- 
veniant periturasque divitias, et servant cum animae 
discrimine, quae niultis periculis quaesierunt, quid 
Christi negotiatori non faciendum est, qui venditis 
omnibus quaerit pretiosissimum margaritum, qui 
totis substantiae suis opibus emit agrum, in quo 
reperiat thesaurum, quem nee fur efFodere nee 
latro possit auferre .'' 

5. Scio me offensurum esse quam plurimos, qui 
generalem de vitiis disputationem in suam referant 
contvuneliam et, dum mihi irascuntur, suam indicant 
conscientiam multoque peius de se quam de me 
iudicant. Ego enim neminem nominabo nee veteris 

1 Genesis, ii. 11. ^ St. Matthew, xiii. 45 and vi. 19. 

402 



LETTER CXXV 

Travellers must be always on the alert, always armed, 
and they must take a year's provisions with them. 
The sea is full of hidden rocks and dangerous shoals, 
so that a look-out man on the top of the mast has to 
call out directions for the ship's course and steering. 
It is a successful trip if the harbour of the above- 
named city is reached in six months. At that point 
begins the ocean, which takes nearly a year to cross 
before you come to India and the river Ganges — 
called Phison in the Scriptures — which compasses 
the whole land of Evilat,^ and is said to carry down 
from its source in Paradise many kinds of bright 
pigments. This land is the home of the carbuncle 
and the emerald, and those gleaming pearls which 
our great ladies so ardently desire. There are also 
in it mountains of gold which men cannot approach 
because of the dragons and griffins and other huge 
monsters, set there to show us what sort of guardians 
avarice employs. 

To what end, you ask, do I say this ? My reason 
is plain. If the merchants of this world undergo 
such pains to arrive at doubtful and passing riches, 
and after seeking them in the midst of dangers keep 
them at the risk of their lives, what should Christ's 
merchant do who sells all he has to buy the pearl of 
great price, and >\ith his whole substance buys a 
field that he may find therein a treasure which 
neither thief can dig up nor robber carry away ? ^ 

I know that I shall offend a very large number of 
people, who think that any general discourse on vice 
is meant as an attack upon themselves. Their anger 
against me is evidence of a guilty conscience, and 
they pass a severer judgment on their own character 
than on mine. I shall not mention names nor use 

403 

D D 2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

comoediae licentia certas personas eligam atque 
perstringam. Prudentis viri est ac prudentium 
feminarum dissimulare, immo emendare, quod in se 
intellegant, et indignari sibi niagis quam mihi nee in 
monitorem maledicta congerere, qui, ut isdem 
teneatur criminibus, certe in eo melior est, quod sua 
ei mala non placent. 

6. Audio religiosam habere te matrem, multorum 
annorum viduam, quae aluit, quae erudivit infantem 
et post studia Galliarum, quae vel florentissima sunt, 
misit Romam non pai'cens sumptibus et absentiam 
filii spe sustinens futurorum, ut ubertatem Gallici 
nitoremque sermonis gravitas Romana condiret nee 
calcaribus in te sed frenis uteretur, quod et in diser- 
tissimis viris Graeciae legimus, qui Asianum tumorem 
Attico siccabat sale et luxuriantes flagellis vineas 
falcibus reprimebant, ut eloquentiae torcularia non 
verborum pampinis, sed sensuum quasi uvarum 
expressionibus redundarent. Hanc tu suscipe ut 
parentem, ama ut nutricem, venerare ut sanetam. 
Nee aliorum imiteris exemplum, qui relinquunt suas 
et alienas appetunt, quorum dedecus in propatulo 
est sub nominibus pietatis quaerentium suspecta 
consortia. Novi ego quasdam iam maturioris aetatis 
et plerasque generis libertini adulescentibus delectari 
et filios quaerere spiritales paulatimque pudore 
superato per ficta matrum nomina erumpere in 
licentiam maritalem. Alii sorores virgines deserunt 

404 



LETTER CXXV 

the licence of the Old Comedy to pick out definite 
persons for criticism. A wise man and wise women 
will either hide or correct any faults they find in 
themselves, they will be more indignant ^nth them- 
selves than with me, and will not heap curses upon 
their adviser. Granted that he is liable to the same 
charges as they are, in his case his faults give him no 
pleasure ; and so far at least he is their superior. 

I hear that your mother is a religious woman who 
for many years has been a ^vidow, and that when you 
were a child she reared and taught you herself. 
After you had studied in the floui'ishing academies 
of Gaul she sent you to Rome, sparing no expense 
and consoling herself for her son's absence with bright 
hopes of his future. Her idea was that Roman 
gravity would temper the exuberance and glitter of 
your Gallic eloquence, and in your case would act as 
a bit rather than as a spur. So we read of the greatest 
Greek orators, that they seasoned the bombast of 
Asia with Attic salt and pruned their vines severely 
when the shoots were too luxuriant. They wished 
to fill the wine-press of eloquence, not with leaf- 
clusters of words, but with the rich grape-juice of 
sound sense. Respect her then as a parent, love 
her as a mother, venerate her as a saint. Do not 
imitate those who leave their own relatives and run 
after strange women. Their infamy is plain ; for 
under pretext of piety they really seek illicit inter- 
course. I know some women of ripe age who in 
many cases take their pleasure with young freed- 
men, calling them their spiritual children, and 
gradually so far overcoming any sense of shame as 
to allow themselves under this pretence of mother- 
hood all the licence of marriage. In other cases men 

405 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

et extraneis viduis copulantur. Sunt, quae oderunt 
suos et non suorum palpantur aflFectu, quarum in- 
patientia, index aninii, nuUani reeepit excusationem 
et cassa inpudicitiae velamenta quasi aranearum fila 
disrumpit. Videas nonnullos accinctis renibus, pulla 
tunica, barba prolixa a mulieribus non posse dis- 
cedere, sub eodem conmanere tecto, simul inire 
convivia, ancillas iuvenes habere in ministerio et 
praeter vocabulum nuptiarum omnia esse matri- 
monii. Nee culpa est nominis Christiani, si simulator 
religionis in vitio sit, quin inmio confusio gentilium, 
cum ea vident ecclesiis displicere, quae omnibus bonis 
non placent. 

7. Tu vero, si monachus esse vis, non videri, habeto 
curam non rei familiaris, cui renuntiando hoc esse 
coepisti, sed animae tuae. Sordes vestium candidae 
mentis indicio sint, vilis tunica contemptum saeculi 
probet ita dumtaxat, ne animus tumeat, ne habitus 
sermoque dissentiat. Balnearum fomenta non 
quaeras, qui calorem corporis ieiuniorum cupis 
frigore extinguere. Quae et ipsa moderata sint, ne 
nimia debilitent stomachum et maiorem refectionem 
poscentia erumpant in cruditatem, quae parens libi- 
dinum est. Modicus et temperatus cibus et cami 
et animae utilis est. Matrem ita vide, ne per 
illam alias videre cogaris, quarum vultus cordi tuo 
406 



LETTER CXXV 

abandon their sisters who are virgins, and unite them- 
selves to widows wlio are no relations. There are 
women who hate their own kin and feel no affection 
for their family. Their restlessness reveals their 
state of mind, for it disdains excuses and rends asunder 
like cobwebs any veils that might conceal their 
licentiousness. You may see some men also -with 
girded loins, sombre tunics and long beards, who yet 
can never leave women's society. They live with 
them under one roof, they go out to dinner with 
them, they have young girls to wait upon them, and, 
save that they are not called husbands, they enjoy 
all the privileges of marriage. But it is no fault of 
Christianity if a hypocrite falls into sin : rather it is 
the confusion of the Gentiles when they see that 
the churches condemn what is condemned by all 
honest folk. 

If you wish to be, and not merely seem, a monk, 
have regard not for your property — you began your 
vows by renouncing it — but for your soul. Let a 
squalid garb be the e\idence of a clean heart : let a 
coarse tunic prove that you despise the world; 
provided only that you do not pride yourself on such 
things nor let your dress and language be at variance. 
Avoid hot baths : your aim is to quench the heat of 
the body by the help of chilling fasts. But let your 
fasts be moderate, since if they are carried to excess 
they weaken the stomach, and by making more food 
necessary to make up for it lead to indigestion, 
which is the parent of lust. A frugal, temperate 
diet is good both for body and soul. 

See your mother often, but do not be forced to see 
other women when you visit her. Their faces may 
dw^ell in your heart and so 

407 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

haereant, ' Et taciturn vivat sub pectore vulnus.' 
Ancillulas, quae illi in obsequio sunt, tibi scias esse in 
insidiis, quia, quantum vilior earum condicio, tanto 
facilior ruina est. Et lohannes Baptista sanctam 
matrem habuit pontificisque filius erat et tamen nee 
matris affectu nee patris opibus vincebatur, ut in 
domo parentum cum periculo viveret castitatis. 
Vivebat in heremo et oculis desiderantibus Christum 
nihil aliud dignabatur aspicere. Vestis aspera, zona 
pelhcia, cibus locustae melque silvestre, omnia 
virtuti et continentiae praeparata. Filii prophe- 
tarum — quos monachos in veteri legimus testamento 
■ — aedificabant sibi casulas propter fluenta lordanis et 
turbis urbium derehctis polenta et herbis agrestibus 
victitabant. Quamdiu in patria tua es, habeto 
cellulam pro paradiso, varia scripturarum poma 
decerpe, his utere deliciis, harum fruere conplexu. 
Si scandalizat te oculus, pes, manus tua, proice ea. 
Nulli parcas, ut soli parcas animae. ' Qui viderit 
mulierem ad concupiscendum eam, iam moechatus 
est eam in corde suo. Quis gloriabitur castum se 
habere cor? ' Astra non sunt munda in conspectu 
domini : quanto magis homines, quorum vita temp- 
tatio est! Vae nobis, qui, quotiens concupiscimus, 
totiens fornicamur. ' Inebriatus est,' inquit, ' gladius 
meus in caelo ' : multo amplius in terra, quae spinas 
et tribulos generat. Vas electionis, in cuius Christus 
ore sonabat, macerat corpus suum et subicit servituti 
et tamen cernit naturalem carnis ardorem suae 



1 Virgil, Aeneid, IV. 67. " St. Matthew, xviii. 9. 

3 St. Matthew, v. 28. * Proverbs, xx. 9. 

* Isaiah, xxxiv. 5. 



408 



LETTER CXXV 

' A secret wound may fester in your breast.' ^ 

You must remember too that the maids who wait 
upon her are an especial snare ; the lower they are 
in rank, the easier it is to ruin them. John the 
Baptist had a saintly mother and his father was a 
priest ; but neither his mother's love nor his father's 
wealth could prevail upon him to live in his parents' 
house at the risk of his chastity. He took up his 
abode in the desert, and desiring only to see Christ 
refused to look at anything else. His rough garb, 
his skin girdle, his diet of locusts and wild honey 
were all alike meant to ensure virtue and self- 
restraint. The sons of the prophets, who are the 
monks of the Old Testament, built huts for them- 
selves by the stream of Jordan, and leaving the 
crowded cities lived on porridge and wild herbs. 
As long as you stay in your native city, regard your 
cell as Paradise, gather in it the varied fruits of the 
Scriptures, make them your delight, and rejoice in 
their embrace. If your eye or your foot or your 
hand offend you, cast it off.- Spare nothing, provided 
that you spare your soul. ' Whosoever looketh on 
a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery 
with her already in his heart.' ^ ' Who can boast 
" I have made my heart clean "? ' * The stars are 
not pure in God's sight: how much less are men, 
whose life is one long temptation ! Woe to us, who 
commit fornication whenever we have lustful 
thoughts ! ' My sword,' says the Scripture, ' hath 
drunk its fill in heaven ' ^ : much more then will it 
on earth, which produces thorns and thistles. The 
chosen vessel, from whose mouth we hear Christ's 
o^\•n words, keeps his body under and brings it into 
subjection; but still he perceives that the natural 

409 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

repugnare sententiae, ut, quod non vult, hoc agere 
conpellatur, et quasi vim patiens vociferatur et 
dicit : ' Miser ego homo, quis ine liberabit de corpore 
mortis huius ? ' Et tu te arbitraris absque lapsu et 
vuhiere posse transire, nisi omni custodia servaveris 
cor tuum et cum salvatore dixeris : ' Mater mea et 
fratres mei hi sunt, qui faciunt voluntatem patris 
mei ' ? Crudehtas ista pietas est ; immo quid tam 
pium, quam sanctae matri sanctum fihum custodire? 
Optat et ilia te vivere, non videre ad tempus, ut 
semper cum Christo videat. Anna Samuhelem non 
sibi, sed tabernaculo genuit. 

Filii lonadab, qui vinum et siceram non bibebant, 
qui habitabant in tentoriis et, quas nox conpulerat, 
sedes habebant, scribuntur in psalmo, quod primi 
captivitatem sustinuerint, quia exercitu Chaldaeorum 
vastante ludaeam urbes introire conpulsi sunt. 

8. Viderint, quid alii sentiant — unusquisque enim 
sue sensu ducitur — mihi oppidum career est et soli- 
tudo paradisus. Quid desideramus urbium frequen- 
tiam, qui de singularite censemur.'' Moyses, ut 
praeesset populo ludaeorum, quadraginta annis 
eruditur in heremo, pastor ovium hominum factus est 
pastor; apostoli de piscatione lacus Genesar ad 
piscationem hominum transierunt. Tunc habebant 
patrem, rete, naviculam : secuti dominum protinus 
omnia reliquerunt portantes cotidie crucem suam et 



1 Romans, vii. 24. 

2 St. Luke, viii. 21. 

' Jeremiah, xxxv. 6. 

* The reference is to the heading of Psalm Ixxi, given in 
the Septuagint (70) : tu> Aavl8 vlu>v 'IwvaSdp, kuI twv v-pwruiv 

* Monachus means ' lonely.' 
410 



LETTER CXXV 

heat of the body fights against his fixed purpose, 
and he is compelled to do what he will not. Like 
a man suffering violence he cries aloud and says : 
' O wTetched man that I am, who shall deliver me 
from the body of this death ? ' ^ And do you think 
then that you can pass through life without a fall and 
without a wound, if you do not keep your heart ^v•ith 
all dihgence and say with the Saviour : ' My mother 
and my brethren are these which hear the word of 
God and do it ' ? ^ Such cruelty as this is really love. 
Nay, what greater love can there be than to guard a 
holy son for a holy mother ? She desires your eternal 
life : she is content not to see you for the moment, 
provided that she may see you for ever with Christ. 
She is like Hannah, who brought forth Samuel, not 
for her own comfort, but for the service of the 
tabernacle. 

The sons of Jonadab drank no wine nor strong 
drink and lived in tents which they pitched whenever 
night came on.^ Of them the psalm * says that they 
were the first to undergo captivit)-, for when the 
Chaldean host was devastating Judaea they were 
compelled to enter cities. Let others think as they 
will — every one follows his o^mi bent — but to me a 
town is a prison, and the wilderness a paradise. 
What do we monks want ^\^th crowded cities, we 
whose very name bespeaks loneliness ? ^ Moses was 
trained for forty years in the desert to fit him for the 
task of leading the Jewish people, and from being a 
shepherd of sheep he became a shepherd of men. The 
apostles left their fishing on Lake Gennesaret to fish 
for human souls. Then they had a father, nets, and 
a little boat : but they followed the Lord straightway 
and abandoned everj'thing, carrying their cross 

411 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

ne virgam quidem in manu habentes. Hoc dico, ut, 
etiam si clericatus te titillat desiderium, discas, quod 
possis docere, et rationabilem hostiam offeras Chris to, 
ne miles antequam tiro, ne prius magister sis quam 
discipulus. Non est humilitatis nieae neque men- 
surae iudicare de ceteris et de ministris ecclesiarum 
sinistrum quippiam dicere. Habeant illi ordinem et 
gradum suum, quern si tenueris, quomodo tibi in eo 
vivendum sit, editus ad Nepotianum liber docere te 
poterit. Nunc monachi incunabula moresque dis- 
cutimus et eius monachi, qui liberabilibus studiis 
eruditus in adulescentia iugum Christi collo suo 
inposuit. 

9. Primumque tractandum est, utrum solus an 
cum aliis in monastei'io vivere debeas. Mihi placet, 
ut habeas sanctorum contubernium nee ipse te 
doceas et absque ductore ^ ingrediaris viam, quam 
numquam ingressus es, statimque in partem tibi 
alteram declinandum sit et errori pateas plusque aut 
minus ambules, quam necesse est, ut currens lasseris, 
moram faciens obdormias. In solitudine cito subre- 
pit superbia et, si parumper ieiunaverit hominemque 
non viderit, putat se alicuius esse momenti oblitusque 
sui, unde quo venerit, intus corpore lingua foris 
vagatur. ludicat contra apostoli voluntatem alienos 
servos ; quod gula poposcerit, porrigit manus ; dormit, 
^ doctore : Hilberg. 

1 A monk — monachus — originally was a solitary living in 
the desert, but after the time of St. Basil monks were usually 
organized in communities under a rule, and devoted their time 
to prayer, meditation and useful work. If a monk wished to 
enter the ministry of the Church he had to be ordained as 
deacon by a bishop. He then normally lived in a city and 
had a cure of souls. 

^ Letter LII. ' Romans, xiv. 4. 

412 



LETTER CXXV 

every day, without so much as a stick in their hands. 
I say this, so that if you are tickled by a desire to 
become a clergyman,^ you may learn now what you 
will then be able to teach others, offering a reason- 
able sacrifice to Christ. You must not think yourself 
an old soldier while you are still a recruit, a master 
while you are still a pupil. It would not become my 
lowly rank to pass judgment on others, or to say 
anything unfavourable about those who serve in 
churches. Let them keep their proper place and 
station, and if you ever join them, my treatise 
MTitten for Xepotian - will show you how you ought 
to live in that position. For the moment I am 
discussing a monk's early training and character, a 
monk, moreover, who after a liberal education in his 
early manhood placed upon his neck the yoke of 
Christ. 

The first point with which I must deal is whether 
you ought to live alone or in a monastery ynth 
others. I would prefer you to have the society of 
holy men and not to be your own teacher. If you 
set out on a strange road without a guide you may 
easily at the start take a wrong turning and make 
a mistake, going too far or not far enough, running 
till you weary yourself or delaying your journey for 
a sleep. In solitude pride quickly creeps in, and 
when a man has fasted for a little while and has seen 
no one, he thinks himself a person of some account. 
He forgets who he is, whence he comes, and where 
he is going, and lets his body run riot within, his 
tongue abroad. Contrary to the apostle's ^ wishes, he 
judges another man's servants; he stretches out his 
hand for anything that his gullet craves ; he does 
what he pleases and sleeps as long as he pleases ; he 

413 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

quantum voluerit; nullum veretur, omnes se in- 
feriores putat crebriusque in urbibus quam in cellula 
est et inter fratres simulat vereeundiam, qui pla- 
tearum turbis conliditur. Quid igitur? Solitariam 
vitam reprehendimus ? Minime, quippe quam saepe 
laudavimus. Sed de ludo monasteriorum huiusce 
modi volumus egredi milites, quos rudimenta non 
terreant, qui specimen conversationis suae multo 
tempore dederint, qui omnium fuerunt minimi, ut 
primi omnium fierent, quos nee esuries nee saturitas 
aliquando superavit, qui paupertate laetantur, 
quorum habitus, sermo, vultus, incessus doctrina 
virtutum est, qui nesciunt secundum quosdam ineptos 
homines daemonum obpugnantium contra se portenta 
confingere, ut apud inperitos et vulgi homines 
miraculum sui faciant et exinde sectentur lucra. 

10. Vidimus nuper et planximus Croesi opes unius 
morte deprehensas urbisque stipes quasi in usus 
pauperum congregatas stirpi et posteris derelictas. 
Tunc ferrum, quod latebat in profundo, super- 
natavit aquae et inter palmarum arbores Merrae 
amaritudo monstrata est. Nee mirum : talem et 
socium habuit et magistrum, qui egentium famem 
suas fecit esse divitias et miseris derelicta in suam 
miseriam tenuit. Quorum clamor tandem pervenit 
ad caelum et patientissimas Dei vicit aures, ut missus 
angelus pessimo Nabal Carmelio diceret : ' Stulte, 
hac nocte auferent animam tuam a te ; quae autem 
preparasti, cuius erunt? ' 

1 Exodus, XV. 23. ^ gt. Luke, xii. 20. 

414 



LETTER CXXV 

fears no nne, he thinks all men his inferiors, spends 
more time in cities than in his cell, and though among 
the brethren he makes a pretence of modesty, in the 
crowded squares he ruffles it with the best. What 
then, you v.-i\\ say ? Do I disapprove of the solitary 
life ? Not at all : I have often commended it. But 
I wish to see the ^soldi£rsL_w^o_march^out from a 
monastery-school iQ£rLjdKLhayejipt been frightened 
by their early traioingj who have given proof of a 
holy life- ^OF- many months, -vvho have made them- 
selves last that they might be first, who have not 
been overCome^By hunger or satiety, who take 
pleasure in povert}-, whose garb, conversation, looks 
and gait all teach \-irtue, and who have no skill — as 
some foohsh fellows have — in inventing monstrous 
stories of their struggles with demons, tales invented 
to excite the admiration of the ignorant mob and to 
extract money from their pockets. 

Just lately, to my sorrow, I saw the fortune of a 
Croesus brought to light at one man's death, and 
beheld a city's alms collected ostensibly for the 
poor's benefit left by ^nll to his sons and their 
descendants. Then the iron which was hidden in 
the depths floated upon the surface, and amid the 
palm trees the bitter waters of Marah ^ were seen. 
Xor need we wonder at his avarice : his partner and 
teacher was a man who turned the hunger of the 
needy into a source of wealth for himself, and to his 
owii wTctchedness kept back the legacies that were 
left to the wretched. But at last their cries reached 
heaven and were too much for God's patient ears, 
so that he sent an angel to say to this \illainous 
Nabal the Carmelite : ' Thou fool, this night thy 
soul shall be required of thee : then whose shall those 
things be which thou hast pro\ided ? ' ^ 

415 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

IL Volo ergo te et propter causas, quas supra 
exposui, non habitare cum matre et praeeipue, ne 
offerentem delicatos cibos renuendo contristes aut, si 
acceperis, oleum igni adicias et inter frequentiam 
puellarum per diem videas, quod noctibus cogites. 
Numquam de manu et oculis tuis recedat liber, psal- 
terium discatur ad verbum, oratio sine intermissione, 
vigil sensus nee vanis cogitationibus patens. Corpus 
pariter animusque tendatur ad dominum. Iram 
vince patientia ; ama scientiani scripturarum et 
carnis vitia non amabis. Nee vacet mens tua variis 
perturbationibus, quae, si pectori insederint, domi- 
nabuntur tui et te deducent ad delictum maximum. 
Fac et aliquid operis, ut semper te diabolus inveniat 
occupatum. Si apostoli habentes potestatem de 
evangelic vivere laborabant manibus suis, ne quem 
gravarent, et aliis tribuebant refrigeria, quorum pro 
spiritalibus debebant metere carnalia, cur tu in usus 
tuos cessura non praepares ? Vel fiscellam texe 
iunco vel canistrum lentis plecte viminibus, sariatur 
humus, areolae aequo limite dividantur ; in quibus 
cum holerum iacta fuerint semina vel plantae per 
ordinem positae, aquae ducantur inriguae, ut pul- 
cherrimorum versuuna spectator adsistas : 

' Ecce supercilio clivosi tramitis undam 
Elicit, ilia cadens raucum per levia murmur 
Saxa ciet scatebrisque arentia temperat arva.' 

^ 2 Thessalonians, iii. 8. ^ Virgil, Georgics, I. 108. 

416 



LE'rrER cxxv 

For the reasons then, which I have given above, I 
wish you not to hve with your mother. And there 
are some further considerations. If she oifers you 
a dainty dish, you would grieve her by refusing it, 
while if you tiike it you would be throwing oil on fire. 
Moreover, in a house that is full of girls you would 
-ee things in the day-time that you would think 
about in the night. Always have a book in your 
hand and before your eyes ; learn the psalms word 
by word, pray without ceasing, keep your senses on 
the alert and closed against vain imaginings. Let 
your mind and body both strain towards the Lord, 
overcome \\Tath by patience ; love the knowledge of 
the Scriptures and you will not love the sins of the 
flesh. Do not let your mind offer a lodging to dis- 
turbing thoughts, for if they once find a home in 
your breast they will become your masters and lead 
you on into fatal sin. Engage in some occupation, 
so that the devil may always find you busy. If the 
apostles who had the power to make the Gospel their 
livelihood still worked with their hands that they 
might not be a burden on any man,^ and gave relief 
to others whose carnal possessions they had a right 
to enjoy in return for their spiritual benefits, why 
should you not provide for your o^^-n future wants ? 
Make creels of reeds or weave baskets of pliant osiers. 
Hoe the ground and mark it out into equal plots, and 
when you have sown cabbage seed or set out plants 
in rows, bring water down in channels and stand by 
like the onlooker in the lovely lines : 
' Lo, from the channelled slope he brings the stream, 

Which falls hoarse murmiuring o'er the polished 
stones 

And Mith its bubbling flood allays the heat 

Of sun-scorched fields.' ^ 

417 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

Inserantur infructuosae arbores vel gemmis vel 
surculis, et parvo post tempore laboris tui dulcia 
poma decerpas. Apum fabricare alvearia, ad quas 
te mittunt Proverbia, et monasteriorum ordinem ac 
regiam disciplinam in parvis disce corporibus. 
Texantur et lina capiendis piscibus, scribantur libri, 
ut et manus operetur cibos et anima lectione satu- 
retur. ' In desideriis est omnis otiosus.' Aegyp- 
tiorum monasteria hanc niorem tenent, ut nullum 
absque opere ac labore suscipiant, non tam propter 
victus necessaria quam propter animae salutem, ne 
vagetur pemiciosis cogitationibus, et instar fornicantis 
Hierusalem omni transeunti divaricet pedes suos. 

12. Dum essem iuvenis et solitudinis me deserta 
vallarent, incentiva vitiorum ardoremque naturae 
ferre non poteram ; quae cum crebris ieiuniis fran- 
gerem, mens tamen cogitationibus aestuabat. Ad 
quam edomandam cuidam fratri, qui ex Hebraeis 
crediderat, me in disciplinam dedi, ut post Quin- 
tiliani acumina Ciceronisque fluvios gravitatemque 
Frontonis et lenitatem Plinii alphabetum discerem, 
stridentia anhelantiaque verba meditarer. Quid ibi 
laboris insumpserim, quid sustinuerim difficultatis, 
quotiens desperaverim quotiensque cessaverim et 
contentione discendi rursus inceperim, testis est 
conscientia tam mea, qui passus sum, quam eorum, 
qui mecum duxere vitam. Et gratias ago domino, 

^ Proverbs, vi. 8, where LXX. adds : ^ TTopevdrjTi npos ttjv 
fieAtaaav kol fiade uig ipyart-s eari k.t.X. 
* Proverbs, xiii. 4. (LXX.) 

418 



LETTER CXXV 

Graft barren trees with buds or slips, so that you 
may, after a little time, pluck sweet fruit as a reward 
for your labours. Make hives for bees, for to them 
the Proverbs of Solomon send you,^ and by watching 
the tiny creatures learn the ordinance of a monastery 
and the discipline of a kingdom. Twist lines too for 
catching fish, and copy out manuscripts, so that your 
hand may earn you food and your soul be satisfied 
with reading. ' Every one that is idle is a prey to 
vain desires.' ^ Monasteries in Egj'pt make it a 
rule not to take any one who will not work, thinking 
not so much of the necessities of life as of the safety 
of men's souls, lest they should be led astray by 
dangerous imaginings, and be like Jerusalem in her 
whoredoms, who opened her feet to every chance 
comer. 

When I was a young man, though I was protected 
by the rampart of the lonely desert, I could not endure 
against the promptings of sin and the ardent heat of 
my nature. I tried to crush them by frequent 
fasting, but my mind was always in a turmoil of 
imagination. To subdue it I put myself in the hands 
of one of the brethren who had been a Hebrew 
before his conversion, and asked him to teach me 
his language. Thus, after having studied the pointed 
st\'le of Quintilian, the fluency of Cicero, the weighti- 
ness of Fronto, and the gentleness of Pliny, I now 
began to learn the alphabet again and practise 
harsh and guttural words. What efforts I spent on 
that task, what difficulties I had to face, how often 
I despaired, how often I gave up and then in my 
eagerness to learn began again, my own knowledge 
can witness from personal experience and those can 
testify who were then living -with me. I thank the 

419 

E £ 2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

quod de amaro semine litterarum dulces fructus 
capio. 

13. Dicam et aliud, quid in Aegyptio viderim. 
Graecus adulescens erat in coenobio, qui nulla con- 
tinentiae, nulla operis magnitudine flammam poterat 
carnis extinguere. Hunc periclitantem pater mona- 
sterii hac arte servavit. Imperat cuidam viro gravi, 
ut iurgiis atque conviciis insectaretur hominem et 
post inrogatam iniuriam primus veniret ad queri- 
monias. Vocati testes pro eo loquebantur, qui 
contumeliam fecerat. Flere ille contra mendacium ; 
nullus alius credere veritati, solus pater defensionem 
suani callide opponere, ne ' abundantiori tristitia 
absorberetur frater. ' Quidmulta? Ita annus ductus 
est, quo expleto interrogatus adulescens super cogi- 
tationibus pristinis, an adhuc molestiae aliquid 
sustineret: ' Papae,' inquit, ' vivere non licet, et 
fornicari libet? ' Hie si solus fuisset, quo adiutore 
superasset ? 

14. Philosophi saeculi solent amorem veterem 
amore novo quasi clavum clavo expellere. Quod et 
Asuero septem principes fecere Persarum, ut Vasti 
reginae desiderium aliarum puellarum amore con- 
pescerent. Illi vitium vitio peccatumque peccato 
remediantur, nos amore virtutum vitia superemus. 
' Declina,' ait, * a malo et fac bonum ; quaerere 
pacem et persequere earn,' Nisi oderimus malum, 
bonum amare non possumus. Quin potius facien- 
dum est bonum, ut declinemus a malo; pax 
quaerenda, ut bella fugiamus. Nee sufficit eam 



^ 2 Corinthians, ii. 7. ^ Esther, ii. 2. 

* Psalni xxxiv. 14. 

420 



LETTER CXXV 

Lord that from a bitter seed of learning I am now 
plucking sweet fruits. 

I will tell you of another thing that I saw in Egypt. 
There w'as a young Greek in a community there, who 
could not quench the fires of the flesh by any con- 
tinence or any labour however severe. In his danger 
the father of the monastery saved him by the fol- 
lowing device. He instructed a grave elder to pursue 
the young man with reWlings and abuse, and after 
having thus insulted him to be the first to lay a 
complaint. When witnesses were called they always 
spoke in favour of the aggressor. The youth could 
only weep at the false charge, but no one believed 
the truth. The father alone would cleverly- put in 
a plea on his behalf, lest ' our brother be swallowed 
up by overmuch sorrow.' ^ To cut a long tale short, 
a whole year passed in this way, and at the end the 
youth was asked about his former imaginings, whether 
they still troubled him. ' Good heavens,' he replied, 
' how can I want to fornicate, when I am not allowed 
even to live ? ' If he had been alone, by whose help 
could he have overcome temptation? 

Worldly philosophers are wont to drive out an old 
passion by a new one, as you drive out an old nail 
by hammering in another. This is what the seven 
princes of Persia did to Ahasuerus, when they 
assuaged his regret for queen Vashti by suggesting 
an amour with other maidens. ^ They cure fault by 
fault and sin by sin : we must overcome vice by love 
of virtue. ' Depart from evil,' says the Scripture, 
' and do good; seek peace and pursue it.' ^ If we 
do not hate evil we cannot love good. Nay more, 
we must do good if we are to depart from evil : we 
must seek peace, if we are to avoid wars. Nor is it 

421 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

quaerere, nisi inventam fugientemque omni studio 
persequamur, ' quae exsuperat omnem sensum,' in 
qua habitatio Dei est dicente propheta : * Et factus 
est in pace locus eius,' pulchreque persecutio pacis 
dicitur iuxta illud apostoli : ' Hospitalitatem per- 
sequentes,' ut non levi citatoque sermone et — ut ita 
loquar — summis labiis hospites invitemus, sed toto 
mentis ardore teneamus quasi auferentes secum de 
lucro nostro atque conpendio. 

15. Nulla ars absque magistro discitur. Etiam 
muta animalia et ferarum greges ductores sequuntur 
suos. In apibus principes sunt ; grues unam se- 
quuntur ordine litterato. Imperator unus, iudex 
unus provinciae. Roma, ut condita est, duos fratres 
simul habere reges non potuit et parricidio dedicatur. 
In Rebeccae utero Esau et lacob bella gesserunt. 
Singuli ecclesiarum episcopi, singuli archipresbyteri, 
singuli archidiaconi et omnis ordo ecclesiasticus suis 
rectoribus nititur. In navi unus gubernator, in domo 
unus dominus ; in quamvis grandi exercitu unius 
signum expectatur. Et ne plura replicando fasti- 
dium legenti faciam, per haec omnia ad illud tendit 
oratio, ut doceam te non tuo arbitrio dimittendum, 
sed vivere debere in monasterio sub unius disciplina 
patris consortioque multorum, ut ab alio discas 
humilitatem, ab alio patientiam, hie te silentium, ille 
doceat mansuetudinem, non facias, quod vis, comedas, 



^ Philippians, iv. 7. ^ Psalm Ixxvi. 2. (Septuagint 

Ixxv. 2.) ^ Romans, xii. 13. * Genesis, xxv. 22. 

422 



LETTER CXXV 

enough merely to seek peace ; when we have found 
it and it flies from us, we must pursue with all our 
might. ' Peace passeth all understanding,' ^ and in 
it is God's dwelling. As the prophet says : ' In 
peace also is His habitation.' ^ The pursuing of peace 
is a fine metaphor, and is like the saying of the 
apostle, ' pursuing hospitality.' ^ Our invitation to 
guests should not be a mere light form of words, 
spoken, if I may use the phrase, %\'ith the surface of 
the lips ; we should be as eager to detain them as if 
they were robbers carrjing off our savings. 

No art is learned without a master. Even dumb 
animals and herds of \vild beasts follow leaders of 
their o^\'n. Bees have rulers, and cranes fly behind 
one of their number in the shape of the letter Y. 
There is one emperor, and one judge for each province. 
\Mien Rome was founded it could not have two 
brothers reigning together, and so it was inaugurated 
by an act of fratricide. Esau and Jacob warred 
against one another in Rebecca's womb.* Each 
church has but one bishop, one arch-presbyter, one 
archdeacon; every ecclesiastical order is subjected 
to its own rulers. There is one pilot in a ship, one 
master in a house ; and however large an army may 
be, the soldiers await one man's signal. I \Yi\\ not 
weary my reader with further repetition, for the 
purpose of all these examples is simply this. I want 
to show you that you had better not be left to your 
own discretion, but should rather Hve in a monastery 
under the control of one father and with many com- 
panions. From one of them you may leam humility, 
from another patience ; this one will teach you 
silence, that one meekness. You will not do what 
you yourself wish ; you will eat what you are ordered ; 

423 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

quod iuberis, habeas, quantum acceperis, vestiaris, 
quod acceperis, operis tui pensa persolvas, subiciaris, 
cui non vis, lassus ad stratum venias ambulansque 
dormites, necdum expleto somno surgere conpel- 
laris, dicas psalmum in ordine tuo — in quo non dul- 
cedo vocis sed mentis afFectus quaeritur scribente 
apostolo : ' Psallam spiritu, psallam et mente,' et : 
' Cantantes in cordibus vestris ' : legerat enim esse 
praeceptum : ' psallite sapienter ' — servias fratribus, 
hospitum laves pedes, passus iniuriam taceas, prae- 
positum monasterii timeas ut dominum, diligas ut 
parentem, credas tibi salutare, quidquid ille prae- 
ceperit, nee de maioris sententia iudices, cuius officii 
est oboedire et inplere, quae iussa sunt, dicente 
Moyse: 'Audi, Israhel, et tace.' Tantis negotiis 
occupatus nullis vacabis cogitationibus et, dum ab 
alio transis ad aliud opusque succedit operi, illud 
solum mente retinebis, quod agere conpelleris. 

16. Vidi ego quosdam, qui, postquam renuntia- 
vere saeculo — vestimentis dumtaxat et vocis pro- 
fessione, non rebus — nihil de pristina conversatione 
mutarunt. Res familiaris magis aucta quam inmi- 
nuta est ; eadem ministeria servulorum, idem appar- 
atus convivii ; in vitro et patella fictili aurum come- 



^ 1 Corinthians, xiv. 15. ^ Ephesians, v. 19. 

3 Psalm xlvii. 7. * Deuteronomy, xxvii. 9. 



424 



/ 



LETTER CXXV 

you will take what you are given ; you will wear the 
dress allotted to you ; you will perform a set amount 
of work ; you will be subordinate to some one you do 
not like ; you will come to bed worn out with weari- 
ness and fall asleep as you walk about. Before you 
have had your fill of rest, you will be forced to get 
out of bed and take your turn in psalm-singing, a 
task where real emotion is a greater requisite than a 
sweet voice. The apostle says : ' I will pray with 
the spirit and I will pray with the understanding 
also,' ^ and, again: ' Make melody in your hearts.' '^ 
He had read the precept : ' Sing ye praises with 
understanding.' ^ You will serve the brethren ; you 
^\^ll wash the feet of guests ; if you suffer WTong you 
will say nothing; the superior of the monastery 
you \n\\ fear as a master and love as a father. What- 
ever precepts he gives you will believe to be whole- 
some for you. You will not pass judgment upon your 
elder's decisions, for it is your duty to be obedient 
and carry out orders, according to the words of 
Moses: 'Keep silence and hearken, O Israel.'* 
You will be so busy with all these tasks that you will 
have no time for vain imaginings, and while you 
pass from one occupation to the next you ^\■ill only 
have in mind the work that you are being forced 
to do. 

I myself have seen some men who after they had 
renounced the world — in garb, at least, and in verbal 
professions, but not in reality— changed nothing of 
their former mode of life. Their household has 
increased rather than diminished ; they have the 
same number of servants to wait upon them and 
keep the same elaborate table ; though they drink 
from glass and eat from plates of earthenware, it 

425 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

ditur et inter turbas et examina niinistrorum nomen 
sibi vindicant solitarii. Qui vero pauperes sunt et 
tenui substantiola videnturque sibi scioli, pomparum 
fereulis similes procedunt ad publicum, ut caninam 
exerceant facundiam. Alii sublatis in altum humeris 
et intra se nescio quid cornieantes stupentibus in 
terram oculis tumentia verba trutinantur, ut, si 
praeconem addideris, putes incedere praefecturam. 
Sunt qui, humore cellularum inmoderatisque ieiuniis, 
taedio solitudinis ac nimia lectione, dum diebus ac 
noctibus auribus suis personant, vertuntur in 
fifXayxoXiav et Hippoeratis magis fomentis quam 
nostris monitis indigent. Plerique artibus et nego- 
tiationibus pristinis carere non possunt mutatisque 
nominibus institorum eadem exercent conmercia, 
non victum et vestitum, quod apostolus prae- 
cipit, sed maiora quam saeeuli homines emolu- 
menta sectantes. Et prius quidem ab aedilibus, 
quos dyopavofiovs Graeci appellant, vendentium 
cohercebatur rabies nee erat inpune peccatum, nunc 
autem sub religionis titulo exercentur iniusta con- 
pendia et honor nominis Christiani fraudem magis 
facit quam patitur. Quodque pudet dicere, sed 
necesse est, ut saltim sic ad nostrum erubescamus 
dedecus, publice extendentes manus pannis aurum 
tegimus et contra omnium opinionem plenis sacculis 
morimur divites, qui quasi pauperes viximus. Tibi, 
cum in monasterio fueris, haec facere non licebit et 

^ Images of the gods were carried on these litters in solemn 
state. 

^ The instilores were travelling merchants who dealt 
largely in female finery. Cf. Horace, Odes, III. vi. 302; Ep. 
XVII. 20. 

» 1 Timothy, vi. 8. 

426 



LETTER CXXV 

is gold they swallow, and amidst crowds of servants 
swarming round them they claim the name of hermit. 
Others, who are poor and of slender means and think 
themselves full of Avisdom, pass through the streets 
like the pageants in a procession,^ to practise a 
cynical eloquence. Others shrug their shoulders 
and croak indistinctly to themselves, and with glassy 
eyes fixed upon the earth they balance swelling 
words upon their tongues, so that if you add a 
crier, you might think it was his excellency the 
governor who was coming along. Some, too, by 
reason of damp cells and immoderate fasts, added 
to the weariness of solitude and excessive study, 
have a singing in their ears day and night, and 
turning melancholy mad need Hippocrates' fomen- 
tations more than any advice of mine. Very many 
cannot forgo their previous trades and occupations, 
and though they change its name carry on the same 
pedlar's^ traffic as before, seeking for themselves not 
food and raiment, as the apostle directs,^ but greater 
profits than men of the world expect. In the past 
the mad greed of sellers was checked by the aediles, 
or as the Greeks call them, market-inspectors, and 
men could not cheat with impunity : to-day under 
the cloak of religion such men hoard up unjust gains, 
and the good name of Christianity does more >vTong 
than it suffers. I am ashamed to say it, but I must 
— at least we ought to blush at our disgrace — we 
hold out our hands in public for alms while we have 
goldhidden under our rags, and to every one's surprise 
after living as poor men we die rich with purses well 
filled. In your case, since you will be in a monastery, 
such conduct will not be allowed ; habits will 
gradually grow on you, and finally you will do of 

427 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

inolescente paulatim consuetudine, quod primum 
cogebaris, velle incipies et delectabit te labor tuus 
oblitusque praeteritorum semper priora sectaberis 
nequaquam considerans, quid alii mali faciant, sed 
quid boni tu facere debeas. 

17. Neque vero peccantium ducaris multitudine et 
te pereuntium turba sollicitet, ut tacitus cogites : 
* Quid ? ergo omnes peribunt, qui in urbibus habitant ? 
Ecce illi fruuntur suis rebus, ministrant eoclesiis, 
adeunt balneas, unguenta non spernunt et tamen in 
omnium flore versantur.' Ad quod et ante respondi 
et nunc breviter respondebo : me in praesenti opus- 
culo non de clericis disputare, sed monachum insti- 
tuere. Sancti sunt clerici et omnium vita laudabilis. 
Ita ergo age et vive in monasterio, ut clericus esse 
merearis, ut adulescentiam tuam nulla sorde con- 
macules, ut ad altare Christi quasi de thalamo virgo 
procedas et habeas de foris bonum testimonium 
feminaeque nomen tuum noverint, vultum nesciant. 
Cum ad perfectam aetatem veneris, si tamen vita 
comes fuerit, et te vel populus vel pontifex civitatis 
in clerum adlegerit, agito, quae clerici sunt, et inter 
ipsos seetare meliores, quia in omni condicione et 
gradu optimis mixta sunt pessima. 

18. Ne ad scribendum cite prosilias et levi ducaris 
insania. Multo tempore disce, quod doceas. Ne 

1 Cf. p. 412, n. 1. 
428 



LETTER CXXV 

vour own accord what was at first a matter of com- 
pulsion; you will take pleasure in your labours, and 
forgetting what is behind you ^vill reach out to that 
which is before ; you will not think at all of the 
evil that others do, but only of the good which it is 
your duty to perform. 

Do not be influenced by the number of those that 
sin, or disturbed by the host of the perishing, so as 
to have the unspoken thought : ' What ? Shall all 
then perish who live in cities r Behold, they enjoy 
their property, they serve in the churches, they 
frequent the baths, they do not disdain unguents, 
and yet they flourish and are universally respected.' 
To such reasonings I have replied before, and will 
now do so briefly again, merely remarking that in 
this present short treatise I am not discussing the 
beha\iour of the clergy, but laying down rules for a 
monk.^ The clergy are holy men, and in every case 
their life is worthy of praise. Go then and so live 
in your monastery that you may deserve to be a 
clergyman, that you may keep your youth free from 
all stain of defilement, and that you may come forth 
to Christ's altar as a virgin steps from her bower ; 
that you may be well spoken of abroad, and that 
women may know your reputation but not your 
looks. When you come to ripe years, that is, if hfe 
be granted you, and have been appointed as a clergy- 
man either by the people or by the bishop of the city, 
then act as becomes a cleric, and among your col- 
leagues choose the better men as your models. In 
every rank and condition of life the verv' bad is 
mingled with the very good. 

Do not rashly leap into authorship, and be led 
by light-headed madness. Spend years in learning 

429 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

credas laudatoribus tuis, immo inrisoribus aurem ne 
libenter adcommodes, qui cum te adulationibus 
foverint et quodam modo inpotem mentis eflfecerint, 
si subito respexeris, aut ciconiarum deprehendas post 
te colla curvari aut manu auriculas agitari asini aut 
aestuantem canis protendi linguam. Nulli detrahas 
nee in eo te sanctum putes, si ceteros laceres. Aocu- 
samus saepe, quod facimus, et contra nosmet ipsos 
diserti in nostra vitia invehimur muti de eloquentibus 
iudicantes, Testudineo Grunnius incedebat ad lo- 
quendum gradu et per intervalla quaedam vix pauca 
verba capiebat, ut eum putares singultire, non 
proloqui. Et tamen, cum mensa posita librorum 
exposuisset struem, adducto supercilio contractisque 
naribus ac fronte rugata duobus digitulis concre- 
pabat hoc signo ad audiendum discipulos provocans. 
Tunc nugas meras fundere et adversum singulos 
declamare ; criticum diceres esse Longiniun censo- 
remque Romanae facundiae notare, quem vellet, et 
de senatu doctorum excludere. Hie bene nummatus 
plus placebat in prandiis. Nee mirum, qui multos 
inescare solitus erat factoque cuneo circumstre- 
pentium garrulorum procedebat in publicum intus 
Nero, foris Cato, totus ambiguus, ut ex contrariis 
diversisque naturis unum monstrum novamque 
bestiam diceres esse conpactum iuxta illud poeticum : 

1 Closely copied from Persius I. 58-60. 

2 A character in the mime Porci Testamenium : here the 
reference is to Rufinus, once Jerome's friend but afterwards 
for theological reasons his bitter enemy. Cf . App. II, p. 498 ff. 

430 



LETTER CXXV 

what you are to teach. Do not believe your flat 
terers, or rather do not lend an ear too readily to 
mockers ; such men will warm your heart with ful- 
some praise and make you in a fashion lose control 
of your mind, but if you turn round quickly you will 
see them making stork-necks behind your back, or 
flapping their hands like a donkey's ears, or putting 
out the tongue like a mad dog.^ Never speak e\il 
of any man or think that holiness consists in attacking 
others. Often we accuse our neighbour of what we 
do ourselves, and eloquently inveigh against vices 
of which we too are guilty, dumb men trying to criti- 
cize orators. When the Grunter ^ came forward to 
address an audience he used to advance first at a 
snail's pace and utter a few words at such long inter- 
vals that you might have thought that he was 
gasping for breath rather than making a speech. 
He would put his table in position and arrange on 
it a pile of books, and then frowning and drawing in 
his nose and ^Tinkling his forehead he would call his 
pupils to attention ^\^th a snap of his fingers. After 
this prelude he would pour out a flood of nonsense, 
declaiming against individuals so fiercely that you 
might imagine him to be a critic like Longinus or the 
most eloquent of Roman censors, and putting a black 
mark against any one he pleased to exclude him from 
the senate of the learned. He had plenty of money, 
and was more attractive at his dinner-parties. And 
no wonder ; he hooked many with this bait, and 
gathering a wedge of noisy chatterers about him 
he would make pubUc progress, Nero at home, 
Cato abroad, a complete puzzle, so that you might 
call him one monster made up of different and 
opposing natures, a strange beast like that of which 

431 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

' Prima leo, postrema draco, media ipsa chimaera.' 

19. Numquam ergo tales videas nee huiusce modi 
hominibus adpliceris, ne declines cor tuum in verba 
malitiae et audias : ' Sedens adversus fratrem tuum 
detrahebas et adversus filium matris tuae ponebas 
scandalum,' et iterum : ' Filii hominum dentes eorum 
arma et sagittae,' et alibi : ' Molliti sunt sermones 
eius super oleum et ipsi sunt iacula,' et apertius in 
Ecclesiaste : ' Si mordeat serpens in silentio, sic, qui 
fratri suo occulte detrahit.' Sed dicis : 'Ipse non 
detraho, aliis loquentibus facere quid possum ? ' ' Ad 
excusandas excusationes in peccatis ' ista praeten- 
dimus. Christus arte non luditur. Nequaquam mea, 
sed apostoli sententia est : * Nolite errare ; Deus non 
inridetur.' Ille in corde, nos videmus in facie. 
Salomon loquitur in Proverbiis : * Ventus aquilo 
dissipat nubes et vultus tristis linguas detrahentium.' 
Sicut enim sagitta, si mittatur contra duram ma- 
teriam, nonnumquam in mittentem revertitur et 
vulnerat vulnerantem illudque conpletur : ' Facti 
sunt mihi in arcum pravum,' et alibi : ' Qui mittit in 
altum lapidein, recidet in caput eius,' ita detractor, 
cum tristem faciem viderit audientis, immo ne audien- 
tis quidem, sed obturantis aures suas, ne audiat 
indicium sanguinis, ilico conticescit, pallet vultus, 
haerent labia, saliva siccatur. Unde idem vir 

^ Lucretius, V. 905, describing the Chimaera. 
2 Psalm 1. 20. » Psalm Ivii. 4. 

* Psalm Iv. 21. * Ecclesiastes, x. 11. R.V. margin. 

* Psalm cxli. 4. ' Galatians, vi. 7. 

* Proverbs, xxv. 23. * Psalm Ixxviii. 57. 
^^ Ecclesiasticus, xxvii. 25. 

^1 Cf. Isaiah, xxxiii. 15 (of the righteous man) : qui obterat 
aures ne audiat sanguinem. 

432 



LETTER CXXV 

the poet tells us : ' In front a lion, behind a dragon, 
in the middle a very goat.' ^ 

Therefore you must never look at men such as he 
was, or have any intercourse with fellows of this kind, 
lest you turn your heart aside unto words of evil and 
hear the words : ' Thou sittest and speakest against 
thy brother; thou slanderest thine o^vn mother's 
son,' - and again : * The sons of men whose teeth 
are spears and arrows,' ^ and in another place : ' His 
words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn 
swords,' * and more clearly in Ecclesiastes : ' Surely 
the serpent will bite where there is no enchantment, 
and the slanderer is no better.' ^ But you may say : 
' I myself am not given to detraction, but if other 
people say things, what can I do ? ' Such a plea is 
only an excuse to ' practise \vicked works with men 
that work iniquity.' * Christ is not deceived by such 
a trick. It is not I but the apostle who says : ' Be 
not deceived; God is not mocked.'' God looks 
upon the heart, we only see the face. In the 
Proverbs Solomon says : ' As the north wind driveth 
away rain, so doth an angry countenance a back- 
biting tongue.' * As an arrow, if it be aimed at a 
hard substance, sometimes rebounds upon the archer 
and wounds the wounder — and so the word is ful- 
filled : ' They were turned aside like a deceitful 
bow,' * and in another place : ' Whoso casteth a 
stone on high casteth it on his own head ' ^® — so when 
a slanderer sees that his hearer is looking surly, and 
so far from listening is stopping up his ears so that 
he may not hearken to the blood judgment, ^^ he for 
his part at once falls silent, his face turns pale, his hps 
stick fast, and the moisture dries up within his mouth. 
Wherefore the same wise man says : ' Meddle not 

433 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

sapiens : ' Cum detractoribus,' inquit, ' non conmis- 
cearis, quoniam repente veniet perditio eorum ; et 
ruinam utriusque quis novit ? ' Tarn scilicet eius, 
qui loquitur, quam illius, qui audit loquentem. 
Veritas angulos non amat nee quaerit susurrones. 
Timotheo dicitur : ' Adversus presbyterum accusa- 
tionem cito ne receperis. Peccantem autem coram 
omnibus argue, ut et ceteri metum habeant.' Non 
est facile de perfecta aetate credendum, quam et vita 
praeterita defendit et honorat vocabulum dignitatis, 
verum, qui homines sumus et interdum contra an- 
norum maturitatem puerorum vitiis labimur, si me 
vis corrigi deliquentem, aperte increpa, tantum ne 
occulte mordeas : ' Corripiet me iustus in miseri- 
cordia et increpabit me, oleum autem peccatoris non 
inpinguet caput meum. Quem enim diligit dominus, 
corripit, flagellat autem omnimn filium, quem 
recipit.' Et per Esaiam clamat Deus : ' Populus 
meus, qui beatos vos dicunt, seducunt vos et semitas 
pedum vestrorum supplantant.' Quid enim mihi 
prodest, si aliis ntiala mea referas, si me nesciente 
peccatis meis, immo detractionibus tuis alium vul- 
neres et, cum certatim omnibus narres, sic singulis 
loquai'is, quasi nulli alteri dixeris ? Hoc est non me 
emendare, sed vitio tuo satisfacere. Praecipit domi- 
nus peccantes in nos argui debere secreto vel ad- 
hibito teste et, si audire noluerint, referri ad eccle- 
siam habendosque in malo pertinaces quasi ethnicos 
et publicanos. 



1 Proverbs, xxiv. 21 Vulgate. 

2 1 Timothy, v. 19 (slightly altered). 
^ Psalm cxii. 5. (Septuagint cxl. 5.) 

* Hebrews, xii. 6. * Isaiah, iii. 12 (Septuagint). 



434 



LETTER CXXV 

with them that are given to detraction : for their 
calamity shall rise suddenly ; and who knoweth the 
ruin of them both ? ' ^ — that is, the ruin of him who 
speaks and him who listens. Truth does not love 
corners nor does she seek out whisperers. To Timothy 
it is said : ' Against an elder receive not an accusa- 
tion suddenly ; but him that sinneth rebuke before 
all, that others also may fear.' ^ When a man is of 
ripe years you should not readily believe evil of 
him ; his past life is a defence and so is the honour- 
able title of elder. Still, as we are but men and 
sometimes in spite of our mature age fall into the 
sins of youth, if I do wrong and you wish to correct 
me, rebuke mie openly and do not indulge in secret 
backbiting. * Let the righteous smite me, it shall 
be a kindness, and let him reprove me ; but let not 
the oil of the sinner enrich my head.' ^ ' Whom 
the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every 
son whom he receiveth.' * By the mouth of Isaiah 
God makes proclamation : ' O my people, they who 
call you happy cause you to err and destroy the 
way of your paths.' ^ What benefit is it to me if 
you tell other people of my misdeeds, if without my 
knowledge you hurt another by the story of my sins 
or rather by your slanders, if while really eager to 
tell your tale to all you speak to each individual as 
though he were your only confidant ? Such conduct 
seeks not my improvement but the satisfaction of 
your own vice. The Lord gave commandment that 
those who sin against us should be arraigned privately 
or else in the presence of a witness, and that if they 
refuse to listen they should be brought before the 
Church, and those who persist in wickedness should 
be regarded as heathens and pubUcans. 

435 
F F 2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

20. Haec expressius loquoi*, ut adulescentem 
meum et linguae et aurium prurigine liberem, ut 
renatum in Christo sine ruga et macula quasi pudicam 
virginem exhibeam sanctamque tarn mente quam 
corpore, ne solo nomine glorietur et absque oleo 
bonorum operum extincta lampade excludatur ab 
sponso. Habes ibi sanctum doctissimumque ponti- 
ficem Proculum, qui viva et praesenti voce nostras 
scidulas superet cotidianisque tractatibus iter tuum 
dirigat nee patiatur te in partem alteram declinando 
viam relinquere regiam, per quam Israhel ad terram 
repromissionis properans se transiturum esse pro- 
mittit. Atque utinam exaudiatur vox ecclesiae con- 
plorantis : ' Domine, pacem da nobis ; omnia enim 
reddidisti nobis.' Utinam, quod renuntiamus sae- 
culo, voluntas sit, non necessitas, et paupertas habeat 
expetita gloriam, non inlata cruciatum. Ceterum 
iuxta miserias huius temporis et ubique gladios 
saevientes satis dives est, qui pane non indiget, 
nimium potens, qui servire non cogitur. Sanctus 
Exsuperius, Tolosae episcopus, viduae Sareptensis 
imitator, esuriens pascit alios et ore pallente ieiuniis 
fame torquetur aliena omnemque substantiam Christi 
visceribus erogavit. Nihil illo ditius, qui corpus 
domini canistro vimineo, sanguinem portat vitro, qui 
avaritiam pi'oiecit e templo, qui absque funiculo et 



^ Bishop of Marseilles. 

2 Isaiah, xxvi. 12 (Septuagint). 

^ Bishop of Toulouse in the beginning of the fifth century, 
and a friend of Jerome. He lived at Rome before his 
episcopate (Letter LIV, 11). 

* 1 Kings, xvii. 12. 



436 



LETTER CXXV 

I have spoken thus definitely because I wish to 
free a young friend of mine from an itching tongue 
and itching ears, so that I may present him born 
again in Christ without spot or roughness as a chaste 
virgin, holy both in body and in mind. I would not 
have him boast in name alone, or be shut out by the 
Bridegroom because his lamp has gone out for want 
of the oil of good works. You have in your town a 
saintly and most learned prelate, Proculus,^ and he by 
the living sound of his voice can do more for you than 
any pages I can write. By daily homilies he will 
keep you in the straight path and not suffer you to 
turn right or left and leave the king's highway, 
whereby Israel undertakes to pass on its hasty 
journey to the promised land. May the voice of the 
Church's supplication be heard : ' Lord, ordain peace 
for us, for thou also hast wrought all our works for 
us.' 2 May our renunciation of the world be a matter 
of free will and not of necessity ! May we seek 
poverty as a glorious thing, not have it forced upon 
us as a punishment ! However, in our present 
miseries, with swords raging fiercely all around us, 
he is rich enough who is not in actual want of bread, 
he is more powerful than he needs be who is not 
reduced to slavery. Exuperius,^ the saintly bishop 
of Toulouse, like the \vidow of Zarephath feeds 
others and goes hungry himself."* His face is pale 
with fasting, but it is the craving of others that tor- 
ments him, and he has spent all his substance on 
those that are Christ's flesh. Yet none is richer than 
he : for in his wicker basket he carries the body of 
the Lord and in his glass cup His blood. He has 
driven greed from the temple ; without scourge of 
ropes or chiding words he has overthrown the tables 

437 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

increpatione vendentiiun columbas, id est dona 
Spiritus Sancti, mensas subvertit mammonae et 
nummulariorum aera dispersit, ut domus Dei domus 
vocaretur orationis et non latronum spelunca. Huius 
e vieino sectare vestigia et ceterorum, qui virtutum 
illius similes sunt, quos sacerdotium et humiliores 
facit et pauperiores, aut, si perfecta desideras, exi 
cum Abraham de patria et de cognatione tua et 
perge, quo nescis. Si habes substantiam, vende et 
da pauperibus, si non habes, grandi onere hberatus 
es ; nudum Christum nudus setjuere. Durum, 
grande, difficile, sed magna sunt praemia. 



CXXVII 

Ad Principiam Virginem de Vita Sanctae 
Marcellae 

1, Saepe et multum flagitas, virgo Christi Prin- 
cipia, ut memoriam sanctae feminae Marcellae 
litteris recolam et bonum, quo diu fruiti sumus, etiam 
ceteris noscendum imitandumque describam. Satis- 
que doleo, quod hortaris spe ate cu rrentem. et me 
arbitraris indigere precibus, qui ne tibi quidem in 



1 This letter is really a memoir of Marcella, the noble lady 
in whose house on the Aventine Jerome used to meet his 
female disciples while he was living in Rome. The chief 
facts of her life are given here by Jerome, who concludes 
with an account of the sack of Rome in a.d. 410. In 408 the 
Goths, who had been settled in Dalmatia, by Theodosius 
(379-395), taking advantage of Stilicho's death, marched into 
Italy under Alaric, and forced Rome to pay ransom. The 
process was repeated in the next year and in 410 the city 
was stormed and sacked, although the Goths, who were 

438 



LETTER CXXV AND LETTER CXXVII 

of mammon of those that sell doves, that is, the gifts 
of the Holy Spirit ; he has scattered the money of 
the money-changers, so that the house of God might 
be called a house of prayer and not a den of 
robbers. Follow closely in his steps and in those of 
others like him in virtue, men whom their holy 
office only makes more humble and more poor. Or 
else, if you desire perfection, go out like Abraham 
from your native city and your kin, and travel whither 
you know not. If you have substance, sell it and 
give it to the poor. If you have none, you are free 
from a great burden. Naked yourself follow a naked 
Christ. The task is hard and great and difficult; 
but great also are the rewards. 

LETTER CXXVII 

To Prin'cipia 

Marcella ^ arid the sack of Rome 

Written a.d. 412 

You have often and earnestly begged me, Prin- 
cipia, virgin of Christ, to honour in WTiting the 
memorj' of that saintly woman Marcella, and to 
set forth the goodness we so long enjoyed for 
others to know and imitate. It is, however, some- 
thing of a grief to me that you should spur a 
willing horse,- or that you should think I need 

Christians, spared the churches. Soon afterwards Alaric died 
in South Italy, his sudden end being used as a warning to 
Attila in 452 by Leo the Great. For Marcella and her circle, 
of. Appendix I. 

^ A proverb : Cic. Alt., xiii. 45. 1 : (juod me hortaris . . . , 
currentem tu quidem. 

439 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

eius dilectione concedam multoque plus accipiam 
quam tribuam beneficii^' tantarum recordatione 
virtutum. Nam ut hucusque reticerem et bien- 
nium praeterirem silentio, non fuit dissimulationis, 
ut male aestimas, sed tristitiae incredibilis, quae ita 
meum obpressit animum, ut melius iudicarem tacere 
inpraesentiarum, quam nihil dignum illius laudibus 
dicere. Neque vero Mareellam tuam, immo meam 
et, ut verius loquar, nostram, omniumque sanctorum 
et proprie Romanae urbis inclitum decus, institutis 
rhetorum praedicabo, ut exponam illustrem familiam, 
alti sanguinis decus et stemmata per consules et 
praefectos praetorio decurrentia. Nihil in ilia lau- 
dabo, nisi quod proprium est et in eo nobilius, quod 
opibus et nobilitate contempta facta est paupertate 
et humilitate nobilior. 

2. Orbata patris morte viro quoque post nuptias 
septimo mense privata est. Cumque earn Cerealis, 
cuius clarum inter consules nomen est, propter 
aetatem et antiquitatem familiae et insignem — quod 
maxime viris placere consuevit — decorem corporis ac 
insignem temperantiam ambitiosiu s peteret suasque 
longaevus polliceretur divitias et non quasi in uxorem 
sed quasi in filiam vellet donationem transfundere 
Albinaque mater tam clarum praesidium viduitati 
domus ultro appeteret, ilia respondit : ' Si vellem 

440 



LETTER CXXVII 

your entreaties, seeing that I do not yield even 
to you in love for her. In recording her signal 
virtues I shall indeed receive more benefit myself 
than I confer upon others. That I have kept silence 
up till now, and have allowed two years to pass 
without speaking, has not been due to any wish to 
repress my feelings, as you wrongly think, but 
rather to my incredible grief; which has so over- 
whelmed my mind that I judged it better to remam 
silent for the moment than to produce something 
unworthy of her fame. And even now I shall 
not follow the rules of rhetoric in praising your, 
mine, or to speak more truly, our Marcella, 
the glory of all the saints and peculiarly of the 
city of Rome. I shall not describe her illustrious 
household, the splendour of her ancient lineage, 
and the long series of consuls and praetorian pre- 
fects who have been her ancestors. I shall praise 
nothing in her save that which is her own, the 
more noble in that, despising wealth and rank, 
by poverty and lowliness she has won higher [ 
nobility. 

On her father's death she was left an orphan, and 
she also lost her husband seven months after marriage. ( 
Thereupon Cerealis, a man of high consular rank, 
paid her assiduous court, attracted by her youth, 
her ancient family, her modest character, and those 
personal charms which always find such favour with 
men. Being an old man he promised her all his 
money, and offered to make over his fortune as 
though she were his daughter, not his wife. Her 
mother Albina was excessively anxious to secure so 
illustrious a protector for the endowed household, 
but Marcella's answer was this : ' If I \nshed to 

441 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

nubere et non aeternae me cuperem pudicitiae dedi- 
care, uticme maritum quaererem, non hereditatem.' 
lUoque mandante posse et senes diu vivere et iuvenes 
cite mori eleganter lusit : ' luvenis quidem potest 
cito mori, sed senex diu vivere non potest.' Qua 
sententia repudiatus exemplo ceteris fuit, ut eius 
nuptias desperarent. Legimus in evangelic secun- 
dum Lucam : * Et erat Anna prophetissa, filia 
Phanuhelis, de tribu Aser et haec provectae aetatis 
in diebus plurimis. Vixeratque cum viro annis 
septem a virginitate sua et erat vidua annis octo- 
ginta quattuor nee recedebat de templo ieiuniis et 
obsecrationibus serviens nocte ac die.' Nee mirum, 
si videre meruit salvatorem, quern tanto labore 
quaerebat. Conferamus septem annos septem men- 
sibus, sperare Christum et tenere, natum confiteri et 
in crucifixum credere, parvulum non negare et virum 
gaudere regnantem : non facio ullam inter sanctas 
feminas differentiam, quod nonnulli inter sanctos 
viros et ecclesiarum principes stulte facere consuerunt, 
sed.ill o tendit ad sertio, ut, quarum unus labor, unum 
et praemium sit. 

3. Difficile est in maledica civitate et in urbe, in 
qua orbis quondam populus fuit palmaque vitiorum, 
si honestis detraherent et pura ac munda macularent, 
non aliquam sinistri rumoris fabulam trahere. Unde 

1 St. Luke, ii. 36. 
442 



LETTER CXXVII 

marry and did not rather desire to dedicate myself 
to perpetual chastity, I should in any case look for 
a husband, not an inheritance.' Cerealis urged that 
old men might possibly live long and young men 
die early, but to that she wittily retorted : ' a\ 
young man may possibly die early, but an old man 
cannot possibly live long.' This definite rejection 
warned other men that they had no hope of winning 
her as A^ife. In the Gospel according to Luke we 
read : ' There was one Anna, a prophetess, the 
daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser : she was 
of great age, and had seen many days ; and she 
had lived with an husband seven years from her vir- 
ginity ; and she was a widow of about fourscore 
and four years, which departed not from the temple 
but served God with fastings and prayers night and 
day.'i It is not strange that she earned the vision 
of the Saviour whom she sought so earnestly. Let 
us now compare the two cases. Anna was mtarried 
for seven years, Marcella for seven months. Anna 
hoped for Christ, Marcella held Him fast. Anna 
confessed Him at his birth, Marcella believed in 
Him crucified. Anna did not deny the child, Mar- 
cella rejoiced in the man as king. I am not drawing 
distinctions of merit between two saintly women, 
as some people foolishly do between saintly men 
and heads of churches. The point of my claim is 
this ; as these two shared one labour so they will 
gain one reward. 

Jn a slander-loving place, and in a city where 
the people once was the world, and it was the 
triumph of \-ice to disparage virtue and to defile all 
that is pure and clean, it is difficult not to drag 
along some fables of calumnious gossips. Therefore 

443 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

quasi rem difficillimam ac paene inpossibilem optat 
propheta potius quam praesuiiiit dicens : ' Beati 
inmaculati in via, qui ambulant in lege domini,' 
inmaculatos in via huius appellans saeculi, quos 
nulla obscena rumoris aura macularit, qui obpro- 
brium non acceperint adversus proximos suos. De 
quibus ef salvator in evangelic : ' Esto,' inquit, 
' benivolus ' — sive ' bene sentiens ' — ' de adversario 
tuo, dum es cum illo in via.' Quis umquam de hac 
muliere, quod displiceret, audivit, ut crederet? 
Quis credidit, ut non magis se ipsiun malignitatis et 
infamiae condemnaret ? Ab hac primum confusa 
gentilitas est, dum omnibus p atuit , quae esset vi- 
duitas Christiana, quam et conscientia et habitu 
promittebat. 

Illae enim solent purpurisso et cerussa ora depin- 
gere, sericis nitere vestibus, splendere gemmis, 
aurum portare cervicibus et auribus perforatis Rubri 
Maris pretiosissima grana suspendere, flagrare mure, 
,,^b' tandem dominatu virorum se caruisse laetentur 
quaerantque alios, non quibus iuxta Dei sententiam 
serviant, sed quibus imperent. Unde et pauperes 
eligunt, ut nomen tantum virorum habere videantur, 
qui patienter rivales sustineant, si mussitaverint, ilico 
proiciendi. Nostra vidua talibus usa est vestibus, 
quibus obstaret frigus, non membra nudaret, aurum 
usque ad anuli signaculum repudians et magis in 
ventribus egenorum quam in marsuppiis recondens. 
Nusquam sine matre, nullum clericorum et mon- 

1 Psalm cxix. 1. "St. Matthew, v. 25. 

444 



LETTER CXXVII 

it is for a thing difficult and almost impossible 
that the prophet hopes rather than thinks to win 
when he says : ' Blessed are the undefiled in the 
way who walk in the law of the Lord.' ^ He 
means by the undefiled in this world's way those 
whom no breath of scandal has sulUed and who have 
incurred no reproach from their neighbours. So too 
the Saviour in the Gospel says : ' Agree AWth [or 
be kindly to] thine adversary whilst thou art in the 
way with him.' ^ Whoever heard anything dis- 
pleasing about Marcella that deserved belief? Who 
that believed such a tale did not rather convict him- 
self of malice and backbiting ? She put the Gentiles 
to confusion by sho^^'ing to all what sort of thing 
that Christian ^\^dowhood is which she revealed ini 
every thought and look. 

Gentile widows are wont to paint their faces with 
rouge and white lead, to flaunt in silk dresses, to 
deck themselves in gleaming jewels, to wear gold 
necklaces, to hang from their pierced ears the 
costliest Red Sea pearls, and to reek of musk. 
Rejoiciftg that they have at length escaped from a 
husband's dominion, tKey*look about for a new mate, 
intending not to yield him obedience, as God ordained, 
but to be his lord and master. With this object 
they choose poor men, husbands only in name, who 
must patiently put up -s^ith rivals, and if they murmur 
can be kicked out on the spot. Our ^\^dow, on the 
other hand, wore clothes that were meant to keep 
out the cold, not to reveal her bare limbs. Even a 
gold signet ring she rejected, preferring to store her 
money in the stomachs of the needy rather than 
hide it in a purse. Nowhere would she go without 
her mother, never would she inter\iew without 

445 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

achorum — quod amplae domus interdum exigebat 
necessitas — vidit absque arbitris. Semper in comitatu 
suo virgines ac viduas et ipsas graves feminas habuit 
sciens ex lascivia puellarum saepe de dominarum 
moribus iudicari et, qualis quaeque sit, talium 
consortio delectari. 

4. Divinarum scripturarum ardor incredibilis, sem- 
perque cantabat : ' In corde meo abscondi eloquia tua, 
ut non peccem tibi,' et illud de perfecto viro : ' Et in 
lege domini voluntas eius et in lege eius meditabitur 
die ac nocte,' meditationem legis non replicando, 
quae scrip ta sunt, ut ludaeorum aestimant Pharisaei, 
sed in opere intellegens iuxta illud apostolicum : 
' Sive comeditis sive bibitis sive quid agitis, omnia 
in gloriam domini facientes ' et prophetae verba 
dicentis : ' A mandatis tuis intellexi,' ut, postquam 
mandata conplesset, tunc se sciret mereri intelle- 
gentiam scripturarum. Quod et alibi legimus : 
* jQuia coepit lesus facere et docere.' Erubescit enim 
quamvis praeclara doctrina, quam propria repre- 
hendit conscientia, frustraque lingua praedicat pau- 
pertatem et docet elemosynas, qui Croesi divitiis 
tumet vilique opertus palliolo pugnat contra tineas 
vestium sericarum. Moderata ieiunia, carnium ab- 
stinentia, vini odor magis quam gustus propter sto- 



^ Psalm cxix. 11. " Psalm i. 2. 

' 1 Corinthians, x. 31. * Psalm cxix. 104. 

5 Acts, i. 1. 

446 



LETTER CXXVII 

\i-itnesses one of the monks, or clergy, which was 
often necessary for the needs of her large household. 
Always her retinue consisted of virgins and widows, 
and they were all staid women ; for she knew that 
a saucy maid is a reflection on her mistress' character, 
and that women usually prefer the company of people 
like themselves. Her ardent love for God's Scriptures 
surpasses all belief. She was for ever singing : ' Thy 
words have I hid in my heart that I might not sin 
against thee ' ; ^ and also the passage about the 
perfect man : ' His delight is in the law of the 
Lord; and in his law he doth meditate day and 
night.' 2 Meditation in the law meant for her not 
a mere reperusal of the Scriptures, as the Jewish 
Pharisees think, but a carrying it out in action. She 
obeyed the apostle's command: ' WTiether there- 
fore ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to 
the glory of God ' ; ^ and also the words of the 
prophet : ' Through thy precepts I have got under- 
standing. ' * She knew that only when she had ful- 
filled those precepts would she deserve to under- 
stand the Scriptures. So we read in another place 
' that Jesus began both to do and teach.' ^ How- 
ever fine a man's teaching may be, it is put to the 
blush when his own conscience reproves him ; and 
it is in vain that his tongue preaches poverty and 
teaches almsgiving, if he himself is swollen with 
the wealth of a Croesus, and though he wears a 
coarse cloak fights to keep the moths from the 
silken robes in his cupboard. 

Marcella practised fasting, but in moderation; 
and she abstained from eating meat. The scent of 
wine was more familiar to her than the taste, for 
she drank it only for her stomach's sake and her 

447 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

machum et frequentes infirmitates. Raro pro- 
cedebat ad publicum et maxime nobilium matro- 
narum vitabat domus, ne cogeretur videre, quod con- 
tempserat, apostolorum et martyrum basilicas secretis 
celebrans orationibus et quae populorum frequentiam 
declinarent. Matri in tantum oboediens, ut interdum 
faceret, quod nolebat. Nam cum ilia suum diligeret 
sanguinem et absque filiis ac nepotibus vellet in 
fratris liberos universa conferri, ista pauperes eli- 
gebat et tamen matri contraii'e non poterat monilia 
et, quicquid siipg]1ff|.t.ilis fuit, divitibus peritura 
concedens magisque volens pecuniam perdere quam 
parentis animum contristare. 

5. Nulla eo tempore nobilium feminarum noverat 
Romae propositum monachorum nee audebat propter 
rei novitatem ignominiosum, ut tunc putabatur, et 
vile in populis nomen adsumere. Haec ab Alexan- 
drinis sacerdotibus papaque Athanasio et postea 
Petro, qui persecutionem Arrianae hereseos decli- 
nantes quasi ad tutissimum communionis suae portum 
Roman confugerant, vitam beati Antonii adhuc tunc 
viventis monasteriaque in Thebaide Pachumii et 
virginum ac viduarum didicit disciplinam nee erubuit 
profiteri, quod Christo placere cognoverat. Hanc 
multos post annos imitata est Sophronia et aliae, 
quibus rectissime illud Ennianum aptari potest : 



1 1 Timothy, v. 23. 

* For Athanasius see F. A. Wright, Later Greek Literature, 
pp. 331-333. Peter succeeded him at Alexandria. For 
"Pope" cf. p. 308, n. 2. 

448 



< 



LETTER CXXVII 

frequent iuf'u-mities.^ She seldom appeared in public 
and carefully avoided the houses of ladies of rank, 
that she might not be forced to see there what she 
herself had rejected; but she frequently visited the 
churches of the apostles and martyrs for quiet 
prayer, avoiding the people's throng. To her 
mother she was so obedient that occasionally she 
did for her sake things that went against her own 
inclination. For example, Albina was devoted to 
her own kinsfolk, and wished to leave all her property 
to her brother's children, cutting out her sons and 
grandsons : Marcella would have preferred to give 
it to the poor, but still she could not go against 
her mother, and handed over her necklaces and 
other effects to people already rich for them to 
squander. She chose rather to see money lost than 
to vex her mother's feelings. 

At that time no great lady in Rome knew any- 
thing of the monastic life, nor ventured to call her- 
self a nun. The thing itself was strange and the 
name was commonly accounted ignominious and 
degrading. It was from some priests of Alexandria 
and from Pope Athanasius ^ and from Peter after- 
wards, who to escape the persecution of the Arian 
heretics had all fled to Rome as being the safest 
refuge for their communion, that Marcella was told 
of the life of the blessed Antony, then still in this 
woi'ld, and of the monasteries founded by Pachumius 
in the Thebaid, and of the discipline laid down there 
for virgins and widows. She was not ashamed to 
profess a life which she knew was pleasing to Christ ; 
and many years later her example was followed by 
Sophronia and by some other ladies, to whom the 
lines of Ennius may most fitly be applied : 

449 

G G 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

' Utinam ne in nemore Pelio.' Huius amicitiis fruita 
est Paula venerabilis, in huius nutrita cubiculo Eusto- 
chium, virginitatis decus, ut facilis aestimatio sit, 
qualis magistra, ubi tales discipulae. 

Rideat forsitan infidelis lector me in muliercularum 
laudibus inmorari : qui si recordetur sanctas feminas, 
comites domini salvatoris, quae ministrabant ei de 
sua substantia, et tres Marias stantes ante crucem 
Mariamque proprie Magdalenen, quae ob seduli- 
tatem et ardorem fidei ' turritae ' nomen aceepit et 
prima ante apostolos Christum videre meruit resur- 
gentem, se potius superbiae quam nos condemnabit 
ineptiarum, qui virtutes non sexu sed animo iudi- 
camus. Unde et lesus lohannem evangelistam 
amabat plurimum, qui propter generis nobilitatem 
erat notus pontifici et ludaeorum insidias non time- 
bat, in tantum, ut Petrum introduceret in atrium et 
staret solus apostolorum ante crucem matremque 
salvatoris in sua reciperet, ut hereditatem virginis 
domini virginem matrem filius virgo susciperet. 

6. Annis igitur plurimis sic suam transegit aetatem, 
ut ante se vetulam cerneret, quam adulescentulam 
fuisse meminisset, laudans illud Platonicum, qui 
philosophiam meditationem mortis esse dixisset. 
Unde et noster apostolus : ' Cotidie morior per ves- 
tram salutem,' et dominus iuxta antiqua exemplaria: 
' Nisi quis tulerit crucem suam cotidie et secutus 

^ The phrase, used here as an expression of regret for the loss 
of two noble women, comes from the opening lines of Ennius' 
translation of the Medea (Ennius, Medea, fr. 1 : utinam ne in 
nemore Pelio securibvs | Caesa accidisset abiegna ad terram trabes). 

2 Magdala means 'tower.' ^ St. John, xviii. 15-16. 

* Plato, Phaedo, 67. E. to* ovri dpa . . . ol opdcis (fiiXo- 
oo(f>oiJVTes aTToOvrjOKeiv fie^ercboiv. 

® 1 Corinthians, xv. 31. 

45° 



LETTER CXXVII 

' Would that ne'er in Pelion's woods ! ' ^ 

Her friendship was also enjoyed by the revered 
Paula, and in her cell that paragon of virgins 
Eustochium was trained. Such pupils as these 
make it easy for us to judge the character of their 
teacher. \ 

Those unbelievers who read me may perhaps ] 
smile to find me lingering over the praises of weak 
women. But if they ^^ill recall how holy women 1 
attended Our Lord and Saviour and ministered to j 
Him of their substance, and how the three Marys [ 
stood before the cross, and particularly how Mary ; 
of Magdala,2 called ' of the tower ' because of her ! 
earnestness and ardent faith, was pri\-ileged to see \ 
the rising Christ first even before the apostles, they 
will convict themselves of pride rather than me of 
folly, who judge of virtue not by the sex but by 
the mind. Therefore it was that Jesus loved the 
evangelist John most of all ; for he was of noble 
birth and known to the high priest, but he feared 
the Jews' plottings so little that he brought Peter 
into the priest's palace,^ and was the only apostle j 
who stood before the cross and took the Saviour's 1 
mother to his own home, a virgin son receiving I 
the Virgin Mother as a legacy from Our \'irgin | 
Lord. / 

So Marcella lived her life for many years, and 
found herself old before she ever remembered that 
once she had been young, approving Plato's saying, 
who declared that philosophy is a preparation for 
death.* Wherefore our own apostle also says : ' For 
your salvation I die daily.' ^ So Our Lord too, 
according to the ancient copies, said : ' Whosoever 
doth not bear his cross daily and come after me 

451 

G G 2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

fuerit me, non potest meus esse discipulus,' multoque 
ante per prophetam Spiritus Sanctus : ' Propter te 
mortificamur tota die, aestimati sumus ut oves 
occTsionis ' et post multas aetates ilia sententia : 
' Memento semper diem mortis et mimquam pecca- 
bis,' disertissimique praeceptum satirici : 

* Yive memor leti, fugit hora, hoc, quod loquor, 
inde est.' 

Sic ergo — ut dicere coeperamus — aetatem duxit et 
vixit, ut semper se crederet esse morituram. Sic 
induta est vestibus, ut meminisset sepulchri, ofFerens 
hostiam rationabilem, vivam, placentem Deo. 

7. Denique, cum et me Romam cum Sanctis ponti- 
ficibus Paulino et Epiphanio ecclesiastica traxisset 
necessitas — quorum alter Antiochenam Syriae, alter 
Salaminiam Cypri rexit ecclesiam— et verecunde 
nobiliarum feminarum oculos declinarem, ita .£git^ 
secundum apostolum ' inportune, oportune,' ut 
pudorem meum sua superaret industria. Et quia 
alicuius tunc nominis aestimabar super studio scrip- 
turarum, numquam conygni t, . quin de scripturis 
aliquid interrogaret nee statim adquiesceret, sed 
moveret e contrario quaestiones, non ut contenderet, 
sed ut quaerendo disceret earum solutiones, quas 
opponi posse intellegebat. Quid in ilia virtutum, 
quid ingenii, quid sanctitatis, quid puritatis inve- 
nerim, vereor dicere, ne fidem credulitatis excedam 

1 St. Luke, xiv. 27. ^ pgalm xHv. 22. 

^ Ecclesiasticus, vii. 36. * Persius, V. 153. 

« In A.D. 382. « 2 Timothy, iv. 2. 

452 



M 



LETTER CXXVII 

cannot be my disciple.' ^ Indeed ages ago the 
Holy Spirit by the mouth of the prophet declared : 
' For thy sake are we killed all the day long; we 
are counted as sheep for the slaughter.' ^ And 
again after many generations we have the proverb : 
' Remember ever the day of death and you will 
never go wrong.' ^ Lastly there is the satirist's 
shrewd precept : 

' Live thou remembering death, for time flies fast. 
This moment's speech I snatch before 'tis past.' * 

Well then, as I began to say, Marcella in all the 
davs of her life remembered that she must die. 
Her very dress reminded her of the tomb, and she 
offered herself as a li\ing sacrifice, reasonable and 
acceptable unto God. 

Lastly, when the needs of the Church brought me also 
to Rome ^ in company A\-ith the holy pontiffs Paulinus 
and Epiphanius, directors respectively of the churches 
of Syrian Antioch and of Salamis in Cyprus, I in my 
modesty was inclined to avoid the gaze of ladies of 
rank. But Marcella was so urgent ' both in season 
and out of season,' ® as the apostle says, that her 
persistence overcame my timidity. At that time I 
had some repute as a student of the Scriptures, and 
so she never met me without asking me some ques- 
tion about them, nor would she rest content at once, 
but would bring for-svard points on the other side ; 
this, however, was not for the sake of argument, 
but that by questioning she might learn an answer 
to such objections as she saw might be raised. What 
virtue and intellect, what holiness and purity I found 
in her I am afraid to say, both lest I should exceed 
the limits of men's belief, and also that I may not 

453 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

et tibi maiorem dolorem incutiam recordanti, quanto 
bono carueris. Hoc solum dicam, quod, quicquid 
in nobis longo fuit studio congregatum et meditatione 
diuturna quasi in naturam versum, hoc ilia libavit, 
hoc didicit atque possedit, ita ut post perfectionem 
nostram, si aliquo testimonio scripturarum esset 
oborta contentio, ad illam iudicem pergeretur. Et 
quia valde prudens erat et noverat illud, quod appel- 
lant philosophi TO irpiirov, id est decere, quod facias, 
sic interrogata respondebat, ut etiam sua non sua 
dieeret, sed vel mea vel cuiuslibet alterius, ut et in 
ipso, quod docebat, se discipulam fateretur — sciebat 
enim dictum ab apostolo : ' Docere autem mulieri 
non permitto '■ — ne virili sexui et interdum sacer- 
dotibus de obscuris et ambiguis sciscitantibus facere 
videretur iniuriam. 

8. \n nostrum locum statim audivimus te illius 
adhaesisse consortio et numquam ab ilia ne trans- 
versum quidem unguis, ut dicitur, recessisse eadem 
domo, eodem cubiculo, una usam cubili et omnibus in 
urbe clarissima notum fieret et te matrem et illam 
filiam repperisse. Suburbanus ager vobis pro mona- 
sterio fuit et rus electum propter solitudinem. 
Multoque ita vixisti tempore, ut imitatione vestri et 
eonversatione multarum gauderemus Romam factam 
Hierosolymam. Crebra virginum monasteria, mona- 
chorum innumerabilis multitudo, ut pro frequentia 

1 1 Timothy, ii. 12. 
454 



LETTER CXXVII 

increase the pain of your grief by reminding you of 
the blessings you have lost. ''This only will I say ; 
all that I had gathered together by long study, and 
by constant meditation made part of my nature, she 
first sipped, then learned, and finally took for her 
own. Consequently, after my departure from Rome, 
if any argument arose concerning the testimony of 
the Scriptures, it was to her verdict that appeal was 
made. <^ She was extremely prudent and always 
followed the rules of what philosophers call to 
TrpeVov, that is, propriety of conduct. Therefore, 
even when her answers to questions were her own, 
she said they came not from her but from me or 
some one else, admitting herself to be a pupil even 
when she was teaching — for she knew that the 
apostle said : ' I do not allow a woman to teach ' — ^ 
so that she might not seem to do a wrong to the 
male sex, and sometimes even to priests, when they 
asked questions on obscure and doubtful points. 

I have heard that you at once took my place as 
her close companion, and that you never left her 
side even for a finger's breadth, as the saying goes. 
You lived in the same house, and had the same cell 
and bed, so that every one in the great city knew 
that you had found a mother and she a daughter. 
A farm near Rome was your monastery, the country 
being chosen because of its loneliness. You Uved 
thus together for a long time, and as many other 
ladies followed your example and joined your com- 
pany, I had the joy of seeing Rome become another 
Jerusalem. Monastic establishments for virgins 
were founded in many places, and the number of 
monks in the city surpassed all counting. Indeed, 
so great was the crowd of God's servants that the 

455 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

servientium Deo, quod prius ignominiae fuerat, 
esset postea gloriae. Interim absentiam nostri 
mutuis solabamur adloquiis et, quod came non 
poteramus, spiritu reddebamus. Semper se obviare 
epistulae, su perarq offi ciis. salutationibus praevenire. 
Non niultum perdebatp quae iugibus sibi litteris 
iungebatur. 

9. In hac tranquillitate et domini servitute heretica 
in his provinciis exorta tempestas cuncta turbavit et 
in tantam rabiem concitata est, ut nee sibi nee ulli 
bonorum parceret. Et quasi parum esset hie uni- 
versa movisse, navem plenam blasphemiarum Romano 
intulit portui invenitque protinus patella operculum 
et Romanae fidei purissimum fontem lutosa caeno 
permiscuere vestigia. Nee mirum, si in plateis et 
in foro rerum venalium piciu&..iiriolus stultorum 
verberet nates et obtorto fuste dentes mordentium 
quatiat, cum venenata spurcaj^ ue doctrina Romae 
invenerit, quos induceret. Tunc librorum -mpl apxtav 
infamis interpretatio, tunc discipulus oX/Sios vere 
/ nominis sui, si in talem magistrum non inpegisset, 
tunc nostrorum 8ia7rv/aos contradictio et Phari- 
saeorum turbata schola. Tunc sancta Marcella, quae 
diu coniverat, ne per aemulationem quippiam facere 
crederetur, postquam sensit fidem apostolico ore 
laudatana in plerisque violari, ita ut sacerdotes 

^ The movement, led by Rufinus and Macarius, to bring 
Origen's teaching before the Romaai public. Cf. App. II, p. 4982. 
2 ' Like to like,' a favourite proverb with Jerome. 

* For Origen (a.d. 185-254) and his writings see F. A. Wright, 
Later Greek Literature, pp. 317-320. The De Principiis is the 
first systematic account of Christian theology and the most 
profound work of serious philosophy which the third century 
produced. 

* Macarius {ixaKapioi — uA^ioj). Jerome here, as often, plays 
upon words. 



LETTER CXXVII 

name, which previously had been a term of reproach, 
was now one of honour. Meanwhile we consoled 
ourselves for our separation by an interchange of 
conversation, discharging in the spirit the debt 
that we could not pay in the flesh. Our letters 
always crossed, outvied in courtesies, anticipated 
in greetings. Separation brought no great loss, 
since it was bridged by a continual correspondence. 
In the midst of this tranquillity and service 
rendered to God, there arose in these provinces a 
tempest ^ which threw everything into confusion, 
and finally swelled to such heights of madness that 
it spared neither itself nor anything that was good. 
As though it were not enough to have disturbed all 
our community here, it despatched a ship laden 
with blasphemies to the port of Rome. There the 
dish soon found a cover to match it ,2 and muddy 
feet fouled the clear fountain of the Roman faith. 
It is not surprising that in the streets and market- 
places of the city a painted quack can strike fools 
on the buttocks and knock out the teeth of objectors 
with a blow from his stick, seeing that this poisonous 
and filthy teaching found dupes at Rome to lead 
astray. Then came the disgraceful version of 
Origen's book On First Principles,^ and that disciple^ 
who might truly have been called ' Felix ' if he had 
never fallen in with such a teacher. Next followed 
my supporters' fiery confutation which threw the 
whole school of the Pharisees into confusion. 
Finally our saintly Marcella, who for a long time 
had closed her eyes to all this lest she should be 
thought to put herself in rivalry, finding that the 
faith which the apostle once praised was now in 
many people being endangered, came forward 

457 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

quoque nonnullos monachorum maximeque saeculi 
homines in adsensum sui traheret hereticus ac sim- 
plicitati inluderet episcopi, qui de suo ingenio ceteros 
aestimabat, publice restitit malens Deo placere quam 
hominibus. 

10. Laudat salvator in evangelio vilicum iniquitatis, 
quod contra dominum quidem, attamen pro se pru- 
denter fecerit. Cernentes heretici de parva scintilla 
maxima incendia concitari et suppositam dudum 
flammam iam ad culmina pervenisse nee posse latere, 
quod multos deceperat, petunt et inpetrant eccle- 
siasticas epistulas. ut communicantes ecclesiae 
discedere viderentur. Non multum tempus in 
medio, succedit in pontificatum vir insignis Anas- 
tasius, quem diu Roma habere non meruit^ ne orbis 
caput sub tali episcopo truncaretur; immo idcireo 
raptus atque translatus est, ne semel latam sen- 
tentiam precibus suis flectere conaretur dicente 
domino ad Hieremiam : ' Ne oraveris pro populo 
isto neque depreceris in bonum, quia, si ieiunaverint, 
non exaudiam preces eorum et, si obtulerint iioLi- 
causta et victimas, non suscipiam eas ; in gladio enim, 
fame ' et pestilentia ego consumam eos.' Dicas : 
' Quo hoc ? ' ad laudem Marcellae. Damnationis 
hereticorum haec fuit principium, dum adducit 
testes, qui prius ab eis eruditi et postea ab heretico 
fuerant errore correcti, dum ostendit multitudinem 



1 Pope Siricius. 2 gt. Luke, xvi. 8. » a.d. 398. 

* ' The head of the world ' is Rome, sacked in 410. 
* Jeremiah, xiv. 11. 

458 



LETTER CXXVII 

openly on my side. As the heretic was drawing to 
his cause not only priests, monks and laity, but was 
even imposing on the simplicity of the bishop,^ who 
judged other men by himself, she publicly withstood 
him, choosing to please God rather than men. 

In the Gospel the Saviour praises the unjust 
steward, because, though he cheated his master, he 
acted wisely for himself.^ The heretics in the same 
way, seeing that a small spark had kindled a great 
fire, and that the flames which for a long time had 
been hidden were now at the housetops, so that the 
deception practised on many could no longer be 
hid, asked for and obtained letters from the church 
of Rome, that it might seem that they were in full 
communion until the day of their departure. Soon 
after this the great Anastasius ^ succeeded to the 
pontificate ; but Rome was not privileged to have 
him long, lest the head of the world should be 
struck oft* while so noble a man was bishop. He was 
indeed swiftly removed from this earth that he 
might not seek by his prayers to avert the sentence 
which God once for all had passed. For the Lord 
said to Jeremiah : ' Pray not for this people for 
their good. When they fast I will not hear their 
cry ; and when they off"er burnt-off'ering and oblation, 
I will not accept them ; but I will consume them by 
the sword and by the famine and by the pestilence.' ^ 
You may say : ' What has this to do with the praise 
of Marcella ? ' The answer is that she took the 
first steps in getting the heretics condemned. It 
was she who brought forward as witnesses those who 
first had been instructed by them and afterwards 
had seen the error of their heresy. It was she who 
revealed the numbers they had deceived, and 

459 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

deceptovum, dum inpia irepl dp)(^!hv ingerit volumina, 
quae emendata manu scorpii monstrantur, dum 
acciti frequentibus litteris heretici, ut se defenderent, 
venire non ausi sunt tantaque vis conscientiae fuit, 
ut magis absentes daninari quam praesentes co- 
argui malueriiit. Huius tarn gloriosae victoriae 
origo Marcella est tuque caput horum et causa 
bonorum, quae scis me vera narrare quae nosti 
vix de multis pauca dicere, ne legenti fastidium 
faciat odiosa replicatio et videar apud malivolos sub 
occasione laudis alterius stomachum meum djgerere. 
Pergam ad reliqua. 

11. De occidentis partibus ad orientem turbo trans- 
gressus minitabatur plurimis magna naufragia. 
Tunc inpletum est : ' Putas, veniens filius hominis 
inveniet fidem super terram ? ' Refrigerata caritate 
multorum pauci, quTamabant fidei veritatem, nostro 
lateri iungebantur, quorum publice petebatur caput, 
contra quos omnes opes parabantur, ita ut ' Barnabas 
quoque adduceret3i_r_in illam simulationem,' immo 
apertum parricidium, quod non viribus sed voluntate 
commisit. Sed ecce universa tempestas domino 
flante deleta est et expletum vaticinium prophetale : 
' Auferes spiritum eorum et deficient et in pulverem 
suum revertentur. In ilia die peribunt omnes 
cogitationes eorum,' et illud evangelicum : ' Stulte, 
hac nocte aufertur anima tua abs te ; quae autem 
praeparasti, cuius erunt? ' 

1 Rufinus. " St. Luke, xviii. 8. 

^ Galatians, ii. 13. 

* The allusion is perhaps to John of Jerusalem, with whom 
Jerome was frequently at variance : but this is only a 
conjecture, though a probable one. 

* Psalm civ. 29. * Psalm cxlvi. 4 (slightly altered). 
' St. Luke, xii. 20. 

460 



LETTER CXXVII 

brandished in their faces the impious books On First 
Principles, which as emended by that scorpion's ^ 
hand were then openly on view. It was she finally 
who in a succession of letters challenged the heretics 
to defend themselves ; a challenge which they did 
not dare to accept, for so strong was their conscious- 
ness of sin that they preferred to be condemned in 
their absence rather than appear and be proved 
guilty. For this glorious victory Marcella was 
responsible ; she with you was the source and cause 
of this great blessing. You, who know that my 
story is true, understand that I am only mentioning 
a few incidents out of many, lest a tedious repetition 
should weary the reader. Moreover, I do not wish 
malignant people to think that under pretence of 
praising another I am giving vent to my own rancour. 
I will now proceed to the rest of my tale. 

The hurricane passed from the Western world 
into the East and threatened very many with dire 
ship^^TCck. Then were fulfilled the words : ' Thinkest 
thou that when the son of man cometh he shall find 
faith on earth? ' ^ The love of many grew cold, 
but a few who loved the truth of faith rallied to my 
side. Their lives were openly sought and every 
means was used to attack them, so that indeed 
' Barnabas also was carried away with their dis- 
simulation,' 3 and committed plain murder,* in ^^■ish 
at least if not in deed. But lo ! the Lord blew and 
all the tempest passed away, and the prediction of 
the prophet was fulfilled : ' Thou takest away their 
breath, they die, and return to their dust.' ^ ' In that 
very day their thoughts perish.' ^ With it also the 
Gospel words were accomphshed : ' Thou fool, this 
night thy soul shall be required of thee : then whose 
shall those things be, which thou hast provided ? ' ' 

461 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

12. Dum haec aguntur in lebus, terribilis de occi- 
dente rumor adfertur obsideri Romam et auro 
salutem civium redimi spoliatosque rursum circum- 
dari, ut post substantiam vitam quoque amitterent. 
Haeret vox et singultus intercipiunt verba dictantis. 
Capitur urbs, quae totum cepit orbem, immo fame 
perit ante quam gladio et vix pauoi, qui caperentur, 
inventi sunt. Ad nefandos cibos erupit esurientium 
rabies et sua invieem membra laniarunt, dum mater 
non parcit lactanti infantiae et recipit utero, quem 
paulo ante effuderat. ' Nocte Moab capta est, noete 
cecidit murus eius. Deus, venerunt gentes in here- 
ditatem tuam, polluerunt templum sanctum tuum, 
posuerunt Hierusalem in pomorum custodiam, 
posuerunt cadavera servorum tuorum escas volati- 
libus caeli, carnes sanctorum tuorum bestiis terrae. 
Effuderunt sanguinem ipsorum sicut aquam in oir- 
cuitu Hierusalem et non erat, qui sepeliret.' 

* Quis cladem illius noctis, quis funera fando 
Explicet aut possit lacrimis aequare dolorem? 
Urbs antiqua ruit multos dominata per annos 
Plurima perque vias sparguntur inertia passim 
Corpora perque domos, et plurima mortis imago. 

13. Cum interim, ut tanta confusione rerum, 
Marcellae quoque domum cruentus victor ingre- 



^ The Canaanite name for Jerusalem. 

2 Isaiah, xv. 1. ^ Psahn Ixxix. 1-3. 

* Virgil, Aeneid, II. 361-5 and 369. 

462 



LETTER CXXVII 

While these things were taking place in Jebus,^ 
a dreadful rumour reached us from the West. We 
heard that Rome was besieged, that the citizens 
were buying their safety with gold, and that when 
they had been thus despoiled they were again 
beleaguered, so as to lose not only their substance 
but their lives. The city which had taken the whole 
world was itself taken ; nay, it fell by famine before 
it fell by the sword, and there were but a few found 
to be made prisoners. The rage of hunger had 
recourse to impious food ; men tore one another's 
limbs, and the mother did not spare the baby at her 
breast, taking again within her body that which 
her body had just brought forth. ' In the night 
was Moab taken, in the night did her wall fall 
down.' 2 ' O God, the heathen have come into 
thine inheritance ; thy holy temple have they de- 
filed ; they have made Jerusalem an orchard. The 
dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be 
meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy 
saints unto the beasts of the earth. Their blood 
have they shed like water round about Jerusalem ; 
and there was none to bury them.' ^ 

' Who can tell that night of havoc, who can shed 
enough of tears 

For those deaths ? The ancient city that for many 
a hundred years 

Ruled the world comes down in ruin : corpses lie in 
every street 

And men's eyes in every household death in count- 
less phases meet.' * 

Meanwhile, as you might expect in such a turmoil, 
the blood-stained conquerors burst their way into 
Marcella's house. 

463 



SELECT LETIERS OF ST. JEROME 

ditur — ' Sit mihi fas audita loqui,' immo a Sanctis 
viris visa narrare, qui interfuere praesentes, qui te 
dicunt in periculo quoque ei fuisse sociatam — intre- 
pido vultu excepisse dicitur introgressos ; cumque 
posceretur aurum et defossas opes vili excusaret 
tunica, non tamen fecit fidem voluntariae paupertatis. 
Caesam fustibus flagellisque aiunt non sensisse tor- 
menta, sed hoc lacrimis, hoc pedibus eorum egisse 
prostratam, ne te a suo consortio separarent, ne sus- 
tineret adulescentia, quod senihs aetas timere non 
poterat. Christus dura corda mollivit et inter 
cruentos gladios invenit locum pietas. Cumque et 
illam et te ad beati Pauli basilicam barbari deduxis- 
sent, ut vel salutem vobis ostenderet vel sepulchrum, 
in tantam laetitiam dicitur erupisse, ut gratias ageret 
Deo, quod te sibi integram reservasset, quod pau- 
perem illam non fecisset captivitas, sed invenisset, 
quod egeret cotidiano cibo, quod saturata Christo 
non sentiret esuriem, quod et voce et o pere loque- 
retur : ' Nuda exivi de ventre matris meae, nuda et 
redeam. Sicut domino visum est, ita et factum est. 
Sit nomen domini benedictum.' 

14. Post aliquot menses sana, integra vegetoque 
corpusculo dormivit in domino et te paupertatulae 
suae, immo per te pauperes reliquit heredes claudens 
oculos in manibus tuis, reddens spiritum in tuis 
osculis, dum inter lacrimas tuas ilia rideret consci- 

1 Virgil, Aeneid, VI. 266. ^ j^b, i. 21. 

' This passage may have inspired the lines by Sir William 
Jones (1746-1794) ' to a friend on his birthday ' : 
' On parents' knee a naked newborn child 
Weeping thou sat'st, while all around thee smiled ; 
So live that sinking to thy life's last sleep, 
Calm thou mayst smile, while all around thee weep.' 
Cf. Letter LX. 13. 
464 



LETTER CXXVII 

' Be it mine to say what I have heard,' ^ 

nay, rather to relate what was seen by those holy 
men who were present at that hour, and found you, 
Principia, at her side in the time of danger. They 
tell me that she confronted the intruders with fear- 
less face, and when they asked her for gold and 
hidden treasures pointed to her coarse gown. How- 
ever, they would not give credence to her self- 
chosen poverty, but beat her with sticks and whipped 
her. She felt no pain, but throwing herself in tears 
at their feet begged them not to take you from her 
or force your youth to endure the fate which her old 
age had no occasion to fear. Christ softened their 
hard hearts, and even among blood-stained swords 
a sense of duty found place. The barbarians escorted 
both her and you to the church of the apostle Paul, 
for you to find there either safety or a tomb. There 
she burst into cries of joy, thanking God for having 
kept you unharmed for her. ' By heaven's grace,' 
'^he said, ' captivity has found me a poor woman, 
not made me one. Now I shall go in want of daily 
bread, but I shall not feel hunger since I am full of 
Christ and can say in word and deed : " Naked came 
I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return 
thither : the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken 
away ; blessed be the name of the Lord." ' ^ 

Some months after this she fell asleep in the 
Lord, sound in mind and not suffering from any 
malady, with her poor body still active. She made 
you the heir of her poverty, or rather she made 
the poor her heirs through you. In your arms 
she closed her eyes, your lips received her last 
breath ; you were weeping, but she smiled,^ con- 
scious of having hved a good life and hoping for a 

465 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

entia vitae bonae et praemiis futurorum. Haec tibi, 
Marcella venerabilis, et haec tibi, Principia filia, una 
et brevi lucubratione dictavi non eloquii venustate sed 
voluntate gratissimi in vos animi et Deo et legentibus 
placere desiderans. 

CXXVIII 

Ad Pacatulam 

1. Causa difficilis parvulae scribere, quae non 
intellegat, quid loquaris, cuius animam nescias, de 
cuius pei'iculose voluntate promittas, ut secundum 
praeclari oratoris exordium spes magis in ea lau- 
danda quam res sit. Quid enim horteris ad conti 
nentiam, quae placentas desiderat, quae in sinu 
matris garrula voce balbuttit, cui dulciora sunt mella 
quam verba? Audiat profunda apostoli, quae anili- 
bus magis fabulis delectatur ? Prophetarum aiVty/tara 
sentiat, quam tristior gerulae vultus exagitat ? 
Evangelii intellegat maiestatem, ad cuius fulgura 
omnis mortalium hebebatur sensus ? Ut parenti 
subiciatur, horter, quae manu tenera ridentem 
verberat matrem ? Itaque Pacatula nostra hoc 
epistulium post lectura suscipiat ; interim modo 
litterularum elementa cognoscat, iungat syllabas, 1 



1 Cicero, De Republica, fr. 5. 
466 



I 



LETTER CXXVII AND LETTER CXXVIII 

reward hereafter. This letter to you, revered 
Marcella, and to you, my daughter Principia, I 
have dictated in the wakeful hours of one short 
night. I have used no charms of eloquence ; my 
one wish has been to show my gratitude to you 
both, my one desire to please both God and my 
readers. 

LETTER CXXVIII 

To Pacatula 

Feminine training 

Written a.d. 413 

It is a difficult matter to write to a little girl who 
will not understand what you say, of whose mind 
you know nothing, and whose inclinations it would 
be dangerous to warrant. To use the words of a 
famous orator's preface — ' in her case praise is based 
on expectation rather than accomplishment.' ^ How 
can you urge self-control on a child who still craves 
after cakes, who babbles softly in her mother's arms, 
and finds honey sweeter than words ? Can she pay 
attention to the deep sayings of the apostle, when 
she takes more pleasure in old wives' tales than in 
them? Can she heed the dark riddles of the pro- 
phets when her nurse's frown is sufficient to frighten 
her? Can she appreciate the majesty of the Gospel 
when its lightnings dazzle all men's senses ? How 
can I bid her to be obedient to her parents, this 
child who beats her mother with baby hand? So 
my little Pacatula must read this letter herself in 
days to come ; and in the meantime learn her alpha- 
bet, spelUng, grammar, and syntax. To get her to 

467 

H H 2 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

discat nomina, verba consociet, atque, ut voce 
tinnula ista meditetur, proponatur ei crustula mulsi 
praemia et, quicquid gustu suave est, quod vernat 
in floribus, quod rutilat in gemmis, quod blanditur 
in pupis, aceeptura festinet ; interim et tenero 
temptet poUice fila deducere, rumpat saepe stamina, 
ut aliquando non rumpat, post laborem lusibus 
gestiat, de matris pendeat collo, rapiat oscula pro- 
pinquorum, psalmos mercede decantet, amet, quod 
eogitur dieere, ut non opus sit, sed delectatio, non 
necessitas, sed voluntas. 

2. Solent quaedam, cum futuram virginem spo- 
ponderint, pulla tunica eam induere et furvo operire 
palliolo, auferre linteamina, nihil in collo, nihil in 
capita auri sinere re vera bono consilio, ne habere 
discat in tenero, quod postea deponere conpellatur. 
Aliis contra videtur. ' Quid enim,' aiunt, ' si 
ipsa non habuerit, habentes alias non videbit ? 
^iXoKocr/jiov genus femineum est multasque etiam 
insignis pudicitiae, quamvis nulli virorum, tamen 
sibi scimus libenter ornari. Quin potius habendo 
satietur et cernat laudari alias, quae ista non 
habeant. Meliusque est, ut satiata contemnat, 
quam non habendo habere desideret.' Tale quid 
468 



LETTER CXXVIII 

repeat her lessons in her little shrill voice she must 
have a prize of a honey cake offered to her. She 
will do her work quickly if she is going to receive 
as reward some sweetmeat, or bright flower, or 
glittering bauble, or pretty doll. Meanwhile, too, 
she must learn to spin, drawing do^\'n the threads 
with tender fingers ; and though at first she may 
often break the yarn, she will one day cease to do 
so. Then, when work is over, she may indulge in 
play, hanging on her mother's neck and snatching 
kisses from her relations. Let her be rewarded for 
singing the psalms aloud, so that she may love 
what she is forced to do, and it be not work but 
pleasure, not a matter of necessity but one of free- 
will. 

Some mothers, when they have vowed a daughter 
to virginity, are wont to dress her in dark clothes, 
to wrap her up in a little black cloak, and to let her 
wear no gold ornaments on her head and neck. In 
reality this method is a wise one, for the child does 
not then become accustomed to things which after- 
wards she must lay aside. Other mothers think 
differently. ' Wliat is the use,' they say, ' of her 
not having pretty things ? Will she not see other 
girls having them? The toilette appeals to all 
women, and we know that many whose chastity is 
beyond reproach take pleasure in dressing not for 
men but for themselves. Nay rather, let her grow 
sated with having, and let her see that others are 
praised, who have not. And it is better that 
she should despise through being sated, than that 
by not having she should want to have.' ' This,' 
they argue, ' is the plan that the Lord used with 
the people of Israel. They craved after the flesh- 

469 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

et Israheletico fecisse dominum populo, ut cupienti- 
bus Aeg} ptias carnes usque ad nauseam et vomitum 
praeberet examina corturnicum, multosque saeculi 
prius homines facilius carere experta corporis 
voluptate quam eos, qui a pueritia libidinem nesci- 
ant ; ab aliis enim nota calcari, ab aliis ignota appeti, 
illos vitare paenitendo suavitatis insidias, quas 
fugerunt, hos carnis inlecebris et dulci titillatione 
corporis blandientis, dum mella putant venena noxia 
reperire ; mel enim distillare labiis meretricis 
mulieris, quod ad tempus inpinguet vescentium 
fauces et postea amarius felle inveniatur. Unde et 
in domini mel sacrificiis non offerri ceraque con- 
tempta, quae mellis hospitium est, oleum accendi in 
templo Dei, quod de amaritudine exprimitur oli- 
varum, pascha quoque cum amaritudinibus comedi 
in ' azymis sinceritatis et veritatis,' quos qui habuerit, 
in saeculo persecutionem sustinebit. Unde et pro- 
pheta mystice cantat : ' Solus sedebam, quia amari- 
tudine repletus sum.' 

3. Quid igitur ? Luxuriandum est in adulescentia, 
ut postea luxuria fortius contemnatur ? Absit, 
inquiunt; ' Unusquisque,' enim, ' in qua vocatione 
vocatus est, in ea pei'maneat.' ' Circumcisus quis,' 
id est virgo, ' vocatus est: non adducat praeputium,' 
hoc est non quaerat pellicias tunicas nuptiarum, 
quibus Adam eiectus de paradiso virginitatis indutus 



^ Proverbs, v. 3. ^1 Corinthians, v. 7, 8. 

^ Jeremiah, xv. 17 (Septuagint). 
* 1 Corinthians, vii. 24, 18, » Genesis, iii. 21. 

470 



Jli 



LETTER CXXVIII 

pots of Ecrypt, and so He sent them swarms of 
quails until they gorged themselves and were 
sick. Many worldlings who have tried all the 
pleasures of the senses find it easier to give them 
up than do those who from youth have known 
nothing of desire. The one tread underfoot what 
they know, the others are attracted by what is 
unknown. The one penitently avoid the snares of 
pleasure from which they have escaped, the others 
are allured by the delights of the body and the 
titillation of the flesh until they find that what they 
thought was honey is really deadly poison. For we 
know that " the lips of a strange woman drop as an 
honeycomb, which for the moment is as oil in the 
eater's mouth, but is afterwards found more bitter 
than gall." ^ Therefore it is that honey is never 
offered in the sacrifices of the Lord, that the wax 
in which honey is stored is held in contempt, and 
that oil expressed from the bitter olive is burned in 
God's temple. Moreover, the passover is eaten 
with bitter herbs and with ' the unleavened bread of 
sincerity and truth.' ^ Those who take thereof shall 
suffer persecution in this world. Wherefore the 
prophet sings symbolically : "I sat alone, because 
I was filled with bitterness." ' ^ 

Well, is wantonness to be encouraged in youth, 
so that in later Ufe it may be the more firmly 
rejected? 'Heaven forbid I ' they say, for 'let 
every man, wherein he is called, therein abide.' 
' Is any called being circumcised — that is, a virgin — 
let him not become uncircumcised ' * — that is, let 
him not seek in marriage the ' coats of skins,' where- 
with Adam clothed himself when he was expelled 
from the paradise of \irginity.^ ' Is any called in 

471 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

est. ' In praeputio quis vocatus est,' hoc est habens 
uxorem et matrimonio pelle circumdatus: non 
quaerat virginitatis et aeternae pudicitiae nuditatem, 
quam semel habere desivit, sed utatur vase suo hi 
sanctificatione et pudicitia bibatque de fontibus suis 
et non quaerat cisternas lupanarium dissipatas, quae 
purissimas aquas pudicitiae continere non possunt, 
Unde et idem Paulus in eodem capitulo de virgini- 
tate et nuptiis disputans servos carnis vocat in matri- 
monio constitutos, hberos eos, qui absque ullo 
nuptiarum iugo tota domino serviunt hbertate. 
Quod loquimur, non in universum loquimur, sed 
in parte tractamus, nee de omnibus, sed de quibus- 
dam dicunus. Ad utrumque sexum, non solum ad 
vas infirmius, noster sei*mo dirigitur. Virgo es : quid 
te muheris delectat societas? Quid fragilem et 
sutilem ratem magnis committis fluctibus et grande 
periculum navigationis incertae securus ascendis ? 
Nescis, quid desideres, et tamen sic ei iungeris, 
quasi aut ante desideraveris aut — ut levissime dicam 
— postea desideraturus sis. ' Sed ad ministerium 
iste sexus est aptior.' Elige ergo anum, ehge de- 
formem, elige probatae in domino continentiae. 
Quid te adulescentia, quid pulchra, quid luxuriosa 
delectat? Uteris balneis, cute nitida, rubicundus 
incedis, carnibus vesceris, affluis divitiis, pretiosa 
veste circumdaris et iuxta serpentem mortiferum 

1 1 Thessalonians, iv. 4. ^ cf, j Corinthians, vii. 22. 

472 



LETTER CXXMII 

uncircumcision ' — that is, having a wife and covered 
with the skin of matrimony : let him not seek the 
nakedness of virginity and of that eternal chastity 
which he has forfeited once for all. Let him rather 
possess his vessel in sanctification and honour ; ^ let 
him drink from his own fountain and not seek in 
brothels those cisterns of vice which can never con- 
tain the pure water of chastity. Therefore Paul 
again in the same chapter, when he is discussing the 
question of \lrginity and marriage, calls those who 
are married slaves of the flesh, but whose who are 
not under the yoke of wedlock freemen serving the 
Lord in all Uberty.* 

What I am saying now I am not saying as a 
universal truth ; I am treating of but a part of this 
subject, and am speaking of some men only, not of 
all. Moreover, my words are addressed to both 
sexes ; not merely to the weaker vessel. You, my 
brother, are a \"irgin : why then do you find pleasure 
in a woman's society? \Miy do you risk your 
frail, patched barque in heavy seas, and lightly face 
the danger of a hazardous voyage ? You know not 
what you desire, and yet your union is as close as 
though you either desired her before or, to put it 
as leniently as possible, were going to desire her in 
the future. ' Her sex,' you will say, * is particularly 
suitable for household service.' Choose an old 
woman, then, chose one who is misshapen, choose 
one of proved continence in the Lord. \Miy should 
you take pleasure in a young girl, pretty and volup- 
tuous? You frequent the baths, you walk abroad 
with rosy cheeks and sleek skin, you eat meat and 
you abound in riches, you dress in costly clothes; 
and do you fancy that you can sleep safe beside a 

473 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

securum dormire te credis ? An non habitas in 
codem hospitio, in nocte dumtaxat ? Ceterum totos 
dies in huiusce modi confabulatione consumens 
quare solus cum sola et non cum arbitris sedes ? 
Cum etiam ipse non pecces, aliis peccare videaris, 
ut exemplo sis miseris, qui nominis tui auctoritate 
delinquant. Tu quoque, virgo vel vidua, cur tarn 
longo viri sermone retineris ? Cur cum solo relicta 
non metuis ? Saltim alvi te et vesicae cogat necessi- 
tas, ut exeas foras, ut deseras in hac re, cum quo 
licentius quam cum germano, multo verecundius 
egisti cum marito. Sed de scripturis Sanctis aliquid 
interrogas : interroga publice ; audiant pedisequae, 
audiant comites tuae. ' Omne, quod manifestatur, 
lux est.' Bonus sermo secreta non quaerit, quin 
potius delectatur laudibus suis et testimonio pluri- 
morum. Magister egregius contemnit viros, fratres 
despicit et in unius mulierculae secreta eruditione 
desudat. 

4. Declinavi parumper de via occasione aliorum 
et, dum infantem Pacatulam instituo, immo enutrio, 
multarum subito male mihi pacatarum bella suscepi. 
Revertar ad propositum. Sexus femineus suo iunga- 
tur sexui ; nesciat, immo timeat cum pueris ludere. 
Nullum inpudicum verbum noverit et, si forte in 
tumultu familiae discurrentis aliquid turpe audierit, 

1 Ephesians, v. 13. 

2 Pacatula, male pacatae : a play on words. 

474 



LETTER CXXVIII 

deadly serpent ? Do you say that you do not live 
in the same house with her, at least at night ? Well, 
you spend whole days with her in this sort of con- 
versation. Why do you sit alone with her and with- 
out any other companions? Why, even if you do 
not sin yourself, do you seem to others to be sinning, 
leading poor wretches into error. by the authority of 
your name ? You also, my sister, whether you are 
a virgin or a widow, why do you spend so many 
hours in talking with a man ? Why are you not 
afraid to be left with him alone ? The needs of 
nature should at least compel you to go out some- 
times and leave him. You were more modest with 
your husband, and even with your brother you did 
not behave with such freedom as this. You say 
that you are asking him some question concerning 
the Holy Scriptures. Ask it publicly ; let your 
maidservants and attendants hear it. ' Everything 
that is made manifest is light.' ^ Honest words 
seek no quiet retreat ; nay rather, they take pleasure 
in a crowd of witnesses, and in the praise which they 
win. He must be a fine teacher who despises men, 
scorns his brethren, and labours in secret to instruct 
one weak woman ! 

Other people's conduct has made me wander 
somewhat from my path, and in instructing, or rather 
nursing, the baby Pacatula, I have in a moment 
incurred the enmity of many ladies who will be hard 
to pacify. 2 I will now return to my subject. Females 
should only mix with their o\\'n sex ; they should 
not know how to play with boys, nay, they should 
be afraid to do so. A girl should have no acquaint- 
ance with lewd talk, and if amid the noisy bustle of 
a household she hears an unclean word, she should 

475 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

non intellegat. Matris nutum pro verbis ac moni- 
tum pro impcrio habeat. Araet ut parentem, subi- 
ciatur ut dominae, timeat ut magistram. Cum 
autem virgunculam et rudem edentulam septimus 
aetatis annus exceperit et coeperit erubescere, scire, 
quid taceat, dubitare, quid dicat, discat memoriter 
psalterium et usque ad annos pubertatis libros Salo- 
monis, evangelia, apostolos ac prophetas sui cordis 
thesaurum faciat. Nee liberius procedat ad publi- 
cum nee semper ecclesiarum quaerat celebritatem. 
In cubiculo suo totas delicias habeat. Numquam 
iuvenculos, numquam cincinnatos videat vocis dulce- 
dine per aures animam vulnerantes. Puellarum 
quoque lascivia repellatur, quae quanto licentius 
adeunt, tanto difficilius evitantur et, quod didicerunt, 
secreto docent inclusamque Danaen vulgi sermonibus 
violant. Sit ei magistra comes, paedagoga custos 
non multo vino dedita, non iuxta apostolum otiosa 
ac verbosa, sed sobria, gravis, lanifica et ea tantum 
loquens, quae animum puellarum ad virtutem insti- 
tuant. Ut autem aqua in areola digitum sequitur 
praecedentem, ita aetas mollis et tenera in utramque 
partem flexibilis est et, quocumque duxeris, trahitur. 
Solent lascivi et comptuli iuvenes blandimentis, 
affabilitate, munusculis aditum sibi per nutrices ad 
alumnas quaerere et, cum clementer intraverint, de 
scintillis incendia concitare paulatimque proficere ad 

^ Danae was imprisoned by her father to keep her un- 
married. 

2 1 Timothy, v. 13. 
476 



LETTER CXXVIII 

not understand it. Her mother's nod should be as 
good as speech, her mother's advice equivalent to 
a command. She should love her as her parent, 
obey her as her mistress, fear her as her teacher. 
At first she will be but a shy little maid ^^ithout all 
her teeth, but as soon as she has reached her seventh 
year and has learned to blush, knowing what she 
should not say, and doubting what she should say, 
she should commit the psalter to memory, and until 
she is grown up she should make the books of 
Solomon, the Gospels, the apostles, and the prophets 
the treasure of her heart. She should not appear in 
public too freely nor always seek a crowded church. 
Let her find all her pleasure in her own room. She 
must never look at foppish youths or curled cox- 
combs, who wound the soul through the ears with 
their honeyed talk. She must be protected also 
from the wantonness of other girls. The more free- 
dom of access such persons have, the more difficult 
they are to shake off; the knowledge they have 
acquired they impart in secret and corrupt a secluded 
Danae with vulgar gossip.^ Let her teacher be her 
companion, her attendant her guardian, and let her 
be a woman not given to much wine, one who, as 
the apostle says, is not idle nor a tattler,- but sober, 
grave, skilled in spinning, saying only such words 
as will train a girl's mind in virtue. For as water 
follows behind a finger in the sand, so soft and tender 
youth is pliable for good or evil, and can be drawn 
wherever you guide it. Spruce gallants often try 
the effect of soft words, affable manners, and trifling 
gifts upon a nurse in order to win access to her 
charge. After succeeding in a gentle approach, 
they blow the spark into a flame and become 

477 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

inpudentiam et nequaquam posse prohiberi illo in 
se versiculo conprobato : ' Aegre reprehendas, 
quod sinas consuescere.' Pudet dicere et tamen 
dicendum est: nobiles feminae nobiliores habiturae 
procos vilissimae condicionis hominibus et servulis 
copulantur ac sub nomine religionis et umbra conti- 
nentiae interdum deserunt viros, Helenae sequuntur 
Alexandres nee Menelaos pertimescunt. Videntur 
haec, planguntur et non vindicantur, quia multitude 
peccantium peccandi licentiam subministrat. 

5. Pro nefas, orbis terrarum ruit et in nobis peccata 
non coruunt. Urbs inclita et Romani imperii caput 
uno hausta est incendio. Nulla regio, quae non 
exules eius habeat. In cineres ac favillas sacrae 
quondam ecclesiae conciderunt et tamen studemus 
avaritiae. Vivimus quasi altera die morituri et 
aedifieamus quasi semper in hoc victuri saeculo. 
Auro parietes, auro laquearia, auro fulgent capita 
columnarum et nudus atque esuriens ante fores 
nostras in paupere Christus moritur. Legimus 
Aaron pontificem isse obviam furentibus flammis et 
accenso turibulo Dei iram eohibuisse ; stetit inter 
mortem et vitam sacerdos maximus nee ultra vestigia 
eius ignis procedere ausus est, Moysi loquitur 
Deus : ' Dimitte me et delebo populum istum.' 
Quando dicit ' dimitte me,' ostendit se tenei'i, ne 



^ Publilius Syrus, Sent., 180, already quoted, cf. p. 358. 
* 2 Numbers, xvi. 46-48. * Exodus, xxxii. 10. 



478 



LETTER CXXVIII 

gradually more and more shameless. It is then 
impossible to stop them, and they prove the truth 
of the line : 

' You can hardly blame a habit which yourself you 
have allowed. ' ^ 

I am ashamed to say it, and yet I must ; women of 
rank who could have suitors of even higher station 
cohabit with men of the lowest class and even with 
slaves. Sometimes in the name of religion and under 
a cloak of continence they desert their husbands, 
and like another Helen follow their Paris without 
any fear of Menelaus. Such things are seen and 
lamented, but they are not punished, for the multi- 
tude of sinners gives licence to sin. 

Shame on us, the world is falling in ruins, but our 
sins still flourish. The glorious city that was the 
head of the Roman Empire has been engulfed in 
one terrific blaze. There is no part of the earth 
where exiles from Rome are not to be found. 
Churches once held sacred have fallen into dust and 
ashes, and still we set our hearts greedily on money. 
We live as though we were doomed to death on the 
morrow, but we build houses as though we were 
going to live for ever in this world. Our walls 
glitter with gold, gold gleams upon our ceilings and 
upon the capitals of our pillars : yet Christ is dying 
at our doors in the persons of His poor, naked and 
hungry. We read that Aaron the high priest faced 
the furious flames and with his burning censer stayed 
God'g wrath. In the might of his priesthood he 
stood between life and death, and the fire did not 
dare to pass his feet.^ God said to Moses : ' Let 
me alone and I will consume this people,' ^ sho\\'ing 
by the words ' let me alone ' that he can be stayed 

479 



SELECT LETTERS OF ST. JEROME 

faciat, quod minatus est; Dei enim potentiam servi 
preces inpediebant. Quis, putas, ille sub caelo est, qui 
nunc irae Dei possit occurrere, qui obviare flammis 
et iuxta apostolum dicere : ' Optabam ego anathema 
esse pro fratribus meis ' ? Pereunt cum pastoribus 
greges, quia, sicut populus, sic sacerdos. Moyses 
conpassionis loquebatur afFectu : ' Si dimittis populo 
huic, dimitte ; sin autem, dele me de libro tuo.' 
Vult perire cum pereuntibus nee propria salute con- 
tentus est. ' Gloria ' quippe ' regis multitude populi.' 
His Pacatula est nata temporibus, inter haec cre- 
pundia primam carpit aetatem ante lacrimas scitura 
quam risum, prius fletum sensura quam gaudium. 
Necdum introitus, iam exitus ; talem semper fuisse 
putat mundum. Nescit praeterita, fugit praesentia, 
futura desiderat. Quae ut tumultuario sermone 
dictarem et post neces amicorum luctumque per- 
petuum infanti senex longo postliminio scriberem, 
tua me, Gaudenti fratri, inpulit caritas; maluique 
parum quam nihil omnino poscenti dare, quia in 
altero voluntas oppressa luctu, in altero amicitiae 
dissimulatio est. 

1 Romans, ix. 3. ^ Exodus, xxxii. 32. 

^ Proverbs, xiv. 28. * Pacatula's father. 



480 



LETTER CXXVm 

from carrying out his threat ; for the prayers of His 
servant hindered God's power. Who, think you, is 
there now under heaven able to face God's wrath, 
to meet the flames, and to say >\ith the apostle : 
' I could wish that I myself were accursed for my 
brethren ' ? ^ Flocks and shepherds perish together, 
because the priest is now even as the people. Moses 
in his compassionate love said : ' Yet now if thou 
wilt, forgive their sin ; and if not, blot me, I pray 
thee, out of thy book.* ^ He wished to perish \\ith 
the perishing, and was not content to win salvation 
for himself ; for indeed ' in the multitude of people 
is the king's honour.' ^ 

Such are the times into which our Pacatula has 
been born, these are the rattles of her infancy. She 
will know of tears before laughter, she •will feel 
sorrow sooner than joy. Scarcely has she trod the 
stage before the curtain falls. She thinks that the 
world was ever thus, she knows not of the past, she 
shrinks from the present, she fixes her desires on what 
is to come. After mourning incessantly for my dead 
friends I have at length recovered composure, and my 
affection for you, brother Gaudentius,* has induced 
me to dictate this rough discourse and in my old 
age ^vrite a letter to an infant. I preferred to 
answer your request inadequately rather than not 
to answer it at all. As it is, my own inclinations 
have been paralysed by my grief; in the other case, 
you might have doubted the sincerity of my friend- 
ship. 



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APPENDIX I 

ON JEROME'S CORRESPONDENCE 
WITH ROMAN WOMEN 

Jerome had many friends at Rome whose names 
occur frequently in his correspondence/ but some 
of his most interesting letters are addressed to his 
women friends in that city. Of these, those to 
Marcella are the most numerous,^ and she and her 
circle had a great influence on the life and work 
of Jerome from 382 onwards. 

1 Among such names are Pope Damasus (Introd., p. viii); 
the senator Pammachius, a member of the Furian family 
and a cousin of Marcella, whose friendship with Jerome dated 
from their student days, when they had together attended 
the lectiu-ea of Victorinus (cf. Letter LXVIII. 1, and preface 
to Hosea); Pammachius was an ardent churchman and as 
much interested in theological controversy as Jerome himself ; 
Oceanus, another lajrman, who was connected with the great 
Fabian family and was probably also a senator (cf. esp. 
Letter LXVII.); his friendship with Jerome, like that of two 
other Roman correspondents, Desiderius and Domnio (Letters 
XL VII. and L.), seems to have begun after Jerome's second 
visit in 382. 

* About one-fifth of Jerome's letters are addressed to women, 
most of them to Marcella. Besides the extant letters to her, 
there was a collection which has been lost. Jerome says in 
the catalogue of his works (De viris ill. 135) that he cannot 
count his letters to Paula and Eustochium, as he wrote every 
day. Most of these letters were impersonal and entirely 
devoted to the interpretation of passages of scripture or 
points of doctrine. 

483 

ii2 



APPENDIX I 

At the time of his second visit to Rome, in that 
year, there was ah-eady estabUshed on the Aventine 
Mount a community of women, presided over by 
Albina and her daughter Marcella, leading a form 
of conventual life, the first impulse to which at Rome 
had been given many years before by Athanasius,^ 
the famous opponent of Arianism, who had been 
driven from his see at Alexandria about 341 and spent 
some years in exile at Rome. He and two Egyptian 
monks who accompanied him, Isidore ^ and Ammon, 
had been welcomed and entei-tained by Albina, a 
noble and rich widow, at her palace on the Aventine, 
and her daughter Marcella, though only a child, 
was deeply impressed by the personalities of the 
Eastern bishop and his companions and by their 
tales of the wonderful lives led by the hermits and 
cenobites, men and women, who already peopled 
the deserts of Syria and Egypt. When Athanasius 
departed he left with the child as a parting gift 
his life of St. Antony, the study of which inspired 
her with a deep admiration and desire for the monastic 
life. Marcella grew up and married, but when her 
husband died, after only seven months of married 
life, leaving her a childless widow, she refused all 
further offers of marriage, and, while continuing 
to transact the necessary business connected with 
her household and property, she henceforth tried 
to lead, though staying at home with her mother, 

1 Letter CXXVII. 5. 

* Probably the monk of Nitria referred to in Letter XXII. 
33. When Paula visited Alexandria in 385 he was governor 
of the pilgrims' hospice there; later he was involved in the 
quarrel between Jerome and John, Bishop of Jerusalem, and 
died, a very old man, in 403. 

484 



APPENDIX I 

the kind of life for which she had always longed. 
She wore the plainest of clothes, fasted often and 
devoted most of her time to prayer and study of 
the scriptures. Gradually she collected around 
her a number of like-minded women, virgins and 
endows, who all lived together and looked up to 
Albina as a common mother. Among these was 
Marcellina, the sister of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, 
who wTote for her his famous treatises on virginity. 
She had received the veil from Pope Liberius in 
352, but lived for many years after ^\-ith her own 
mother, and only after her death joined Marcella's 
community. Other members of the household, 
Sophronia, Felicita and another Marcella, are known 
to us by name only, but of Asella more is told. She 
was perhaps a sister ^ of Marcella, perhaps only a 
kinswoman, but when a mere child of ten she vowed 
herself to a hfe of \irginity, and when her mother 
refused to buy her the plain brown dress worn by 
those dedicated to the religious hfe, Jerome tells 
us how the child sold her gold chain and bought 
the clothing for herself. Thenceforward she lived 
a life of fasting and of prayer, hardly seeing her own 
sister, only going out to \isit the martyrs' shrines, 
and making for herself a hermitage in the midst of 
the busy life of Rome.^ Such solitude and austerity 
were exceptional, and Marcella herself kept in touch 
with the world and welcomed as \isitors at her 
home women whose tastes and interests were the 
same as her own. One of these friends was Lea,^ 
a widow, who was at the head of another community 



Letter XLV. 7. * Letter XXIV. 

» Cf. Letter XXIU. 



485 



APPENDIX I 

of women ; others, such as Titiana and her daughter 
Furia, were still living their normal life in the Roman 
society of the day.^ Another member of the circle 
was Fabiola, who had married young and unhappily, 
and after divorcing her first husband had married 
again. Strictly speaking the Church did not recog- 
nize such a union, but legally it was valid, and no 
slur seems to have rested upon her. After her 
second husband's death, however, Fabiola's con- 
science troubled her for having contracted the mar- 
riage, and she astounded the world of Rome by 
publicly appearing as a penitent to expiate the sin 
of her second marriage. After receiving absolution 
she devoted her life and fortune to the care of the 
sick and poor, not only at Rome, but throughout 
Italy.2 

But of all Marcella's circle, the most famous was 
her kinswoman the rich patrician Paula.^ Her 
parents, Rogatus and Blesilla, were probably both 

1 Letter LIV. 

* Cf. Letter LXXVII. The dale of this public penance 
is uncertain. Jerome's account seems to make it clear that 
it took place before her visit to Palestine in 394, and it is 
tempting to place it during, or soon after, Jerome's stay in 
Rome (382-5) and to ascribe it to his influence. The descrip- 
tion of the ceremony suggests the public act of penance which 
Bishop Ambrose exacted from the Emperor Theodosius in 392 
and it may have been inspired by that. M. Thierry (Life 
of S. Jerome, II. p. 20 ff.) thinks it took place after Fabiola's 
visit to Palestine and connects it with a letter (LV.) Avritten 
by Jerome to the priest Amandus in 394 in answer to a query 
about the validity of such a marriage as Fabiola's. 

* For Paula and her family c;f. Gibbon, Chs. XXXI. and 
XXXVIl. : also Letter CVIIl. L Gracchorum stirps, 
suboles scipionum, Pauli heres, cuius vocabulum trahit, 
maeciae Papiriae, matris Africani, vera et germana progenies. 

486 



APPENDIX I 

Christians, but her husband Toxotius had been a 
pagan.^ The marriage was apparently a ver}' happy 
one in spite of the difference of religion, and during 
his lifetime she had led the usual life of a Roman 
matron of high rank, but after his death in 379 she 
tried to find consolation in a life of the strictest 
asceticism, and she spent so much money on charity 
that she was reproached for squandering her children's 
inheritance.- Jerome draws a \ivid picture of the 
austerities which she practised and contrasts them 
with her pre\-ious life of luxury,^ but she still main- 
tained her household on a scale that enabled her to 
offer hospitality to Bishop Epiphanius during his 
stay in Rome in 382.* 

The family hfe of Paula illustrates the struggle 
between Christianity and paganism in the Roman 
society of the day.^ Her four daughters were all 
Christians. Blesilla, the eldest of them, had married 
Furius, a son of the devout Titiana, and had been 
left a widow before she was twenty, but as yet she 
was indifferent to her religion and enjoyed to the 
full the Ufe of gay luxury which her wealth and 
position offered to her. Julia or Eustochium, the 
third daughter, had ^^ished from a child to take the 
veil and much of her time had been spent with 

1 Cf. Letter CVIU. 3 fF. 

» Letter C^^II. 5. 

=» Letter C^^II. 4. Cf. Letter CVIII. 15. 

* Cf. Letter CVIU. 6. 

* In Marcella's own family there was a similar division; 
Albina had been a Christian for many years, but her kinsman 
Albinxis was not only a pagan, but a pontiff of Jupiter, though 
his wife and daughter were both Christians, and it was only 
years later that his Christian grandchild finally converted the 
old man (Letter CVII. 1-4). 

487 



APPENDIX I 

Marcella, whose instruction and example had con- 
firmed her natural bent. Paula sympathised with 
this desire, but it was strongly opposed by the 
child's uncle Hymetius, her father's brother. He 
had been a favourite of the Emperor Julian and he 
and his wife Praetextata held fast to the old religion, 
and their influence and authority kept Paula's 
only son, the young Toxotius, at this time a child 
of nine or ten, from becoming a Christian. They 
invited Eustochium to visit them, and by dressing 
her in fine clothes and giving her a glimpse of the 
social hfe in which she would naturally take part, 
they tried to detach her from opinions which to them 
seemed fanatical and unnatural. To modern minds 
the scheme seems but a natural attempt to let the 
child — she was only fourteen or fifteen— see some- 
thing of the world which she was so determined to 
abjure, but Jerome, ^vriting of the incident twenty 
years later, exults in its failure and denounced the 
wickedness of the worldly uncle and aunt, whose 
death, which occurred soon after, he ascribes to the 
direct judgment of Heaven for this attempt to turn 
the young virgin from her chosen path.^ 

Marcella and her circle were not only all wealthy 
and well born, but they were also women of cultivated 
intellect, and the visit of the Eastern bishops ^ with 
whom Jerome came to Rome in 382 was an event 
of great interest to them. Jerome at first, as he 
tells us himself, avoided the society of women, but 
Marcella and her friends longed to meet and to be 

1 Letter CVII. 5. 

* Paulinus of Antioch (cf. Introd., p. viii) and Epiphanius 
of Salamis in Cyprus. Cf. Letter CVIII. 6. 



APPENDIX I 

taught by one whose reputation for sanctity and 
learning stood so high. The letters MTitten from 
his hermitage had been circulated in the West as 
well as in the East, and like the treatises of Ambrose 
of Milan and of Pope Damasus ^ had formed part 
of the reading of Marcella's circle. Many years 
later Jerome tells us ^ how Fabiola knew by heart 
and recited to him the letter in praise of the ascetic 
hfe which he had >\Titten to his friend Heliodorus 
in 374. He could not refuse to teach such eager 
disciples, and in response to Marcella's earnest 
request he gave a series of lectures and readings 
to her and her friends and finally became their 
director and spiritual guide.^ He found his pupils 
intelligent and sympathetic and intensely interested 
in all questions of scriptural interpretation and 
theological controversy. Probably they all knew 
Greek and Paula and her daughters studied Hebrew 
as well,* so as to be able to help him in his great 
work of translating the Bible into the vulgar tongue. 
Long letters to Marcella, Paula and others ^ explain 
passages of scripture or points of doctrine and 
some essays on Je^\'ish observances originated in the 
eager questions of Fabiola.® Not only many of 
Jerome's letters but some of his most important 
treatises were inspired by Marcella and her friends. 
During his stay in Rome a certain Helvidius, a lay- 

1 Cf. p. 102 and note 3. 
» Letter LXXVII. 9, written 399. 

* Cf. esp. Letter XXX. 14 (to Paula), saluta reliquum 
castitatis chorum et domesticam tuam ecclesiam. 
It Letters XXXIX. and CVIII. 
5 E.g. Letters XXXIIl. and XXXIV., also LXIV. 
« Letters LXIV. and LXXVIIL, and p. 329, note. 

489 



APPENDIX I 

man, wrote an attack on the celibate life, extolled 
by Jerome as the highest, placing the estate of 
marriage above it.^ Such an attack struck at the 
root of the life of celibacy which Marcella and her 
friends were leading and trying to induce others 
to lead, and it was probably in response to their 
entreaties that he wrote in 383 his treatise against 
Helvidius. It was certainly at Marcella's request 
that ten years later Jerome, from his monastery 
at Bethlehem, denounced the similar teaching of 
the renegade monk Jovinian, who again made an 
attempt to discredit the celibate life which Jerome 
had done so much to encourage, and with such 
success that by that time, as he exultantly writes, 
Italy was full of nunneries and the number of monks 
in Rome was past counting. ^ 

But interesting as these general treatises and 
letters are, it is in the more personal letters on life 
and conduct that the influence of Jerome's ardent 
and magnetic personality on his disciples is best 
seen. That influence was especially strong on 
Paula and her family. He confirmed the young 
Eustochium, Paula's third daughter, in her desire 
to take the veil,^ and his famous letter to her in 
praise of virginity, much of which reads strangely 
when we remember that it was addressed to a child 
of fourteen or fifteen, was really intended for a larger 
public and was a defence of the celibate life and 
an attack on its opponents. The marriage of Paulina, 
Paula's second daughter, to his friend the senator 



1 Cf. esp. Letter XXIV. 1. 

« Letter CXXVIl. 8. Cf. also Palladius de Opiano. 

3 Letter XXIL, written in 384. 



490 



APPENDIX I 

Pammachius, a man of more than twice her age, was 
approved by him, but it was on the Ufe of Paula 
herself and her eldest daughter Blesilla that his 
influence was strongest. 

Ever since the \Tsit of Epiphanius to her house 
in 382,^ Paula had longed to abandon her life in 
Rome and to xisit the Holy Land and the famous 
sohtaries of Egypt and the East, and there to adopt 
a conventual life. Such a desire, invoking, as it 
did, the abandonment of her children, two of whom 
were still quite young, and the loss to them of much 
of their inheritance, naturally aroused strong opposi- 
tion among Paula's family and friends, part of which 
was directed against Jerome, to whose influence 
it was ascribed ; and just at this time Pope Damasus, 
his friend and patron, died. Siricius, his successor, 
was jealous of his predecessor's friend, and perhaps 
frightened by the unpopularity which his uncom- 
promising principles had aroused — his advocacy of 
asceticism, his exaltation of monastic as oppjosed to 
family Ufe, and the \4olence of his attacks on those 
who disagreed with him. This unpopularity was 
brought to a head by the death of Blesilla towards 
the end of the year 384, shortly after that of the 
Pope. For nearly two years Paula and Jerome, 
her spiritual director, had striven to turn the gay 
young widow to a more serious way of Hfe, but it 
was only after a dangerous illness in the summer 
of 384 that Blesilla was converted and threw herself 
into a life of self-denial and study ^vith the same 
ardour with which she had previously pursued a 
life of pleasure. Her health was delicate and a few 

1 Letter CVIII. 6. 

491 



APPENDIX I 

months later she died. The populace ascribed her 
illness to the fasting and asceticism advocated by 
Jerome, and clamoured for the expulsion of the 
monk ^ whose austere teaching was held responsible 
for her death. ^ Darker accusations still were brought 
against him, and it was openly declared that the 
friendship between him and the dead girl's mother 
was only the cloak for a more guilty relation.^ 
Jerome exposed the lie and the slanderer confessed 
his falsehood, but no doubt an atmosphere of sus- 
picion remained, and as he now no longer had the 
Pope's friendship and protection, Jerome decided 
to leave Rome. He embarked at Ostia with his 
brother Paulinus and his friend the priest Vincentius 
in August 385, and wrote thence a letter of fare- 
well to his women friends and disciples, which he 
addressed, not to Paula or Marcella, but to the 
virgin Asella,* perhaps because she, absorbed in a 
Ufe of prayer and contemplation, was unaffected by 
the atmosphere of slander and suspicion which was 
surrounding him. 

A few months after Jerome's departure, Paula 
finally made up her mind to start on her long-'svished- 
for journey to the East. The storm of anger and 
disapproval which the death of Blesilla and her 
friendship with Jerome had brought upon her, added 
to her natural grief at the loss of her child, had 

1 Cf. Letter XXXIX. 6. 

2 Letters XXXVIIL and XXXIX. 

' Cf. Letter XLV. 2 where Jerome alludes somewhat 
obscurely to this incident. Who the accuser was is un- 
known. Apparently legal proceedings were taken against 
him for the slander, and the mention of torture suggests that 
he was a slave. 

* Letter XLV. 

492 



APPENDIX I 

reduced her to a condition of deep depression and 
despair from which Jerome had tried in vain to rouse 
her,^ and he himself seems to have been sincerely 
fond of his young disciple, whose memory, he pro- 
mised, should be kept ahve wherever his works 
were read.^ Paula and Eustochium and the band 
of widows and \irgins who went with them were 
escorted to the port of embarkation by a crowd of 
friends and relations, hoping, we may think, even 
to the last to dissuade them from the journey.^ 
Jerome movingly describes how the young Toxotius 
stood on the shore stretching out his arms to his 
mother as he implored her to return, and how her 
youngest daughter vainly begged her to stop till 
she should be settled in niarriage. But no family 
ties could now keep her back from her pilgrimage. 

Such journeys were not without precedent ; 
about thirteen years before, Melania, a wealthy 
widow of Spanish origin, had left Rome, abandoning 
her home there and her only child, to travel in the 
East and establish a convent on the Mount of Olives ; 
associated with her on her travels and in her Ufe at 
Jerusalem was Rufinus, the friend of Jerome's 
youth, and later his bitter enemy. Jerome was 
perhaps at Rome when Melania thus exiled herself, 
though there is no certain evidence * that he knew 
her or had influenced her conduct, but he no doubt 

^ Letter XXXJX., written to Paula on the death of Blesilla. 

* Op. cit. section 7. 
' Letter CVIII. 

* The fact that Melania's freedman Hylas was one of the 
band of ascetics with Jerome at Aquileia, and accompanied 
him to SjTia, suggests that he knew Melania when in Rome 
as a student. 

493 



APPENDIX I 

had used this pi*ecedent to confirm Paula in her 
purpose, for in his eyes, as his letters prove,^ no 
home ties or duties should prevail once the vocation 
for the religious hfe had been felt. There still 
exists a guide ^vritten for the assistance of such 
pilgrims as Paula and Melania which gave a list of 
inns and hospices and the best route to follow,^ 
and perhaps aided by some such itinerary, Paula 
and her companions made their way through the 
Aegaean islands to Salamis in Cyprus, where they 
stayed with the venerable Bishop Epiphanius, and 
thence to Antioch, where they met Jerome and his 
monks, who accompanied them to Egypt, where 
the monk Isidore entertained them, and afterwards 
to Jerusalem. Here they probably stayed at the 
monasteries on the Mount of OUves with Jerome's 
old friend Rufinus and Melania, whose experiences 
had been so like Paula's o^vti hfe.^ But this is not 
expressly told us ; when Jerome wrote the history 
of these travels,* the bitterness of theological con- 

1 Cf. esp. Letter XIV. 

* Itinerarium a Bordigala Hierusalem u^g'ue, written 333 a.d. 
(ed. Tobler and Molinier, Geneva, 1879). 

* It was the death of her husband and two of her children 
which had led Melania to leave her home in Rome and her 
only remaining cliild and to go on a pilgrimage to the East, 
where she lived for nearly a quarter of a century. Jerome 
couples the names of the two women together in a letter 
written in 385 (Letter XLV. 4 and 5), but the most striking 
parallels in their lives were then still in the future — Paula's 
journey to the East, her convent at Bethlehem beside Jerome's 
monastery, like Melania's at Jerusalem beside the monastery 
of Rufinus. Melania, however, revisited Rome in 397 and 
lived there with her son Publicola and his family for eleven 
years, ultimately persuading her grand-daughter the younger 
Melania and her husband Pinianus to return with her to the East. 

* Letter CVIII., circ. 404. 

494 



APPENDIX I 

troversy had estranged him for ever from the friend 
of his youth. Finally, the pilgrims came to Bethle- 
hem, where they settled, and in the monasteries 
built there Jerome carried on his literary work, 
Paula and Eustochiuna acting as his secretaries, and 
kept up a constant correspondence, not only ^vith his 
disciples in Rome, but with friends all over the world. 
To NIarcella, especially, he ^\Tote constantly, and 
when her mother died, Paula and Eustochium 
urged her to join them in Palestine.^ She, however, 
had no wish to leave Rome and continued to Uve her 
life there, somewhat more austere and more definitely 
conventual after the loss of her mother, till she 
died after the sack of Rome by Alaric in 410, which 
Jerome graphically describes in a letter in praise of 
her life, written to the virgin Principia who had 
taken Eustochium 's place as Marcella's constant 
companion. 2 Fabiola, however, came to visit her 
friends at Bethlehem, and under the escort of her 
kinsman Oceanus, Jerome's friend and correspondent, 
made a pilgrimage through the Holy Land and even 
thouorht of settUncr down there for the rest of her 
life, but the threatened invasion of the Huns in 
394, the danger of which was so imminent that the 
monks and nuns of Bethlehem left their monasteries 
and took refuge on the sea-coast, caused her to 
abandon this idea and she returned to Rome.^ 

Jerome's letters show how close a connection 
the solitaries of Bethlehem kept up with their 
Roman friends, and he still acted as a spiritual 
director to his disciples, exhorting one against a 

1 Letter XL VI., 386 a.d. 

2 Letter CXXVIL Cf. Letter LXV. 

3 Letter LXXVIL 7 and 8. 

495 



APPENDIX I 

second marriage,^ instructing others on the education 
and upbringing of their children,^ condoling with 
others on the loss of friends or relations.^ 

Paula too kept in close touch -with her children 
and felt deeply the successive loss of those whom 
she had left in Rome. Her youngest daughter 
Rufina had died a year or two after her mother's 
departure ; ^ and in 394 her second daughter Paulina 
died. Pammachius, heartbroken at the death of 
his young wife, gave away all her fortune to the 
poor and himself assumed the habit of a monk ; 
though he continued to take his seat in the senate 
and fulfil his pubUc duties, he devoted his life to 
the care of the poor and joined with Fabiola, till 
her death in 399, in maintaining a hostel for pilgrims 
at Ostia.^ The marriage of Toxotius brought 
Paula some comfort. Soon after her departure he 
became a Christian, and afterwards married Laeta, 
a devout Christian, though her father Albinus, 
Marcella's cousin, was a pagan. There was one 
child of this marriage, a second Paula who was 
dedicated to the cloister from her birth. Her 
mother asked Jerome for advice on her education ; ® 
and it was by his counsel that she was sent to 
Bethlehem to be brought up in the convent there. 
But before this her father and grandmother were 
both dead. The peace of Paula's last years had 
been disturbed, not only by the death of her children, 
one after the other, and by her own ill-health caused 

1 Letter LIV. 

2 Letters CVII. and CXXVIII. 

3 Letters LXVI. and LXXVII. 
« Letter CVIII. 

6 Cf. Letters LXVI. and LXXVII. 10. « Letter CVII. 

496 



APPENDIX I 

by the austerities which she practised, but also %y 
the theological disputes which had alienated Jerome 
from his early friend Rufinus and which caused 
dissension throughout the Christian world. 

After Paula's death in 404: Eustochium took over 
the government of the nunnery, and continued to 
work as Jerome's secretary ; his correspondence 
was as active as ever — ^nth Rome, Gaul, Spain and 
Africa. In 418 Eustochium too died and was 
succeeded by her niece the younger Paula, and it 
was she who nursed the aged Jeronnie in his last 
illness in the following year. 

Note. — In addition to the works referred to, pp. xv-xvi, an 
interesting account of Jerome's circle in Rome is given in Mrs. 
Oliphant's "Makers of Modem Rome," Chs. I.-\^., and in 
Lady Herbert's "Wives and Mothers in the Olden Time" 
(Bentley, 1885). 



497 

K K 



APPENDIX II 

JEROME AND ORIGENISM 

" The tempest " ^ which disturbed the earlier 
years of Jerome's monastic life in Bethlehem arose 
from the revival of Origenism ^ in the East ^ and the 
attempt to introduce its doctrines in the West ; the 
theological controversy led to personal quarrels with 
his old friend and fellow-student Rufinus * and with 
John, Bishop of Jerusalem,^ the bitterness of which 
was reflected in many references to them in his later 
letters.^ 

Jerome in his earlier years had been an enthusiastic 
admirer of Origen ; he had translated some of 

1 Letter CXXVII. 9; cf. LXXVII. 8. 

* The following were the chief points of Origen's teaching 
which were deemed heretical : the pre-existence of soul ; the 
denial of the resurrection of the body ; the limitation of eternal 
punishment; and the possibility of salvation even for the 
devil. Cf. Letter LI. Epiphanius to John of Jerusalem, trans- 
lated by Jerome. 

* Origen's works had always been much admired in his 
native country, Egypt, and many of the monks there were 
Origenists. 

* Rufinus (of Aquileia) (c. 344-410) was a member of Jerome's 
first band of ascetics at Aquileia; when this broke up he 
accompanied Melania to Palestine and founded, with her, 
monastic establishments on the Mount of Olives, where he 
carried on literary and educational work. He was still on 
friendly terms with Jerome in 392. 

* Since 385. 

* In this volume of. pp. 431, 461, note 4. 

498 



APPENDIX II 

Origen's works and brought them to the knowledge 
of Pope Damasus, ^vriting of them with unquaUfied 
approval.^ It was perhaps the consciousness of this 
which induced Jerome to defend his own orthodoxy 
fiercely against a certain Aterbius, who \isited 
Palestine in 395 and charged him, together with 
Rufinus and Bishop John, of being adherents of 
Origenism. The vehemence of his defence alienated 
him from his friend and from his bishop, who declined 
to answer the charge which, in their opinion, Aterbius 
had no authority to bring against them. \Mien, 
therefore, in the following year, the aged bishop of 
Salamis, Epiphanius, who was the leader of the 
movement against Origenism, visited Jerusalem and 
denounced the errors of the heresy in Bishop John's 
o\vn church, Rufinus sided with John in the ensuing 
controversy between the bishops, while Jerome and 
his monks took the side of Epiphanius. ^ 

John appealed to Theophilus, the Patriarch of 
Alexandria, who at first sided with the Origenists ; 
the monasteries at Bethlehem were practicall}- placed 
under an interdict, and the bishop even tried to induce 
Rufinus,^ the powerful minister of Theodosius, to 
banish Jerome from Palestine. This danger, however, 
passed away with the assassination of Rufinus at the 
end of 395, and soon after Theophilus changed his 
\iews and made peace Anth Jerome, whom he 
reconciled also >Wth John. They worked together 

^ Cf. the preface to his translation of Origen's two homilies 
on the Song of Songs (383) ; also Letter XXXIII. written to 
Paula in 384. As late as 392 he wTote of Origen in terms of 
the highest admiration (Preface to Micah). 

* The particulars of this controversy are given in Jerome's 
treatise '" against John of Jerusalem " and in Letter LI. 

' To be distinguished from Jerome's friend, p. 1, note 4. 

499 
KK 2 



APPENDIX II 

against the teachings of Origenism ^ and finally 
secured its condemnation in the East.^ 

While Jerome's dispute with Bishop John was still 
at its height, Rufinus (of Aquileia) decided to-ieave 
Palestine and return with Melania to Italy ; before 
his departure he was solemnly reconciled to Jerome 
at Easter 397, perhaps through the intervention of 
Melania.^ 

The reconciliation between Jerome and Rufinus 
was probably sincere, but it did not stand the test of 
a further controversy on Origenism which arose in 
Italy. On his arrival there Rufinus was strongly 
urged to translate the speculative works of Origen 
into Latin by a certain Macarius of Pinetum, a 
Roman of good position, perhaps a senator.^ The 
recrudescence of Origenism in the East had aroused 
interest in his works all over the Christian world, and 
in spite of Jerome's translations, the Western Church 
seems to have known little about him.^ Rufinus, 
who always remained his fervent admirer, was glad 
of the opportunity to make his works known, and 
translated two books of the De Principiis, Origen's 
most controversial work, softening down or altering 
many passages which had been condemned as hereti- 
cal, on the ground that these were not in the original 

^ Jerome translated the encyclicals of Theophilus into 
Latin (Letters LXXXV., LXXXVI. and LXXXIX.). Letter 
CXXVII. alludes to this. 

2 In A.D. 400 Letters XC, XCI. and XCII. 

^ Jerome, Apol. IIL 33. For Melania's part in it cf. 
Palladius, Hist. Laus., ch. 1. 

* Cf. p. 457 and Letter LXXX. (from Rufinus to Macarius). 

* Pope Anastasius, when he condemned Origen's works as 
heretical, stated that he had never read them (Letter to John 
of Jerusalem). 

500 



APPENDIX II 

work.^ He published this work in the spring of 398, 
and added a preface in which he clearly referred to 
Jerome, though not by name, speaking of him in 
terms of the highest praise as a translator and 
admirer of Origen.^ Such a description, though true 
of Jerome's opinions a few years before, was mani- 
festly misleading in view of his attitude during the 
recent controversy in Palestine, and was strongly 
resented by Jerome's friends in Rome, especially 
Pammachius, Oceanus and Marcella, who sent a copy 
of Rufinus' work to Bethlehem.^ Jerome repUed by 
making a literal translation of the first two books of 
the De Principiis and sending it to Pammachius at 
Rome with a letter defending his own orthodoxy,* 
^\-ith which he enclosed a personal and not unfriendly 
letter to Rufinus.^ This letter, however, which 
might have averted an open breach, never reached 
Rufinus. When it got to Rome, circumstances there 
had changed ; the pope Siricius, never favourably 
disposed to Jerome and his circle, was dead,® and his 
successor, Anastasius, was under the influence of 
Jerome's friends ; after considerable controversy, 
which seems to show that the teachings of Origen 
had made some headway in the West, Origenism 
Avas formally condemned as heretical in 400.' Rufinus 
had left Rome on the death of Siricius and settled 
first at Milan and then at Aquileia, where he lived on 

^ Such licence in translators was not uncommon and is 
defended by Jerome (by whose example Rufinus justifies his 
own methods) in Letters LVII., LXI. and LXVI. 

* Letter LXXX. » Letter LXXXIII. 

* Letter LXXXIV. » Letter LXXXL 

* A.D. 398. 

^ Letter XCV. In Letter CXXVII. 9 and 10, Jerome 
ascribes this chiefly to MarceUa. 



APPENDIX II 

friendly terms with Jerome's friend, Bishop Chro- 
matius, for about ten years. It was there that he 
read the attack which Jerome had made on him in 
the letter sent to Pammachius, who seems to have 
suppressed the personal letter addressed to Rufinus 
himself.^ A bitter controversy ensued in consequence 
between Jerome and Rufinus.^ Their friends tried 
in vain to reconcile them ^ ; and Jerome's anger 
against his former friend did not end even with the 
latter 's death.* 

^ In Apol. 111. 28, Jerome defends this action of 
Pammachius. 

^ Jerome, Apology, and Rufinus, Apology. 

^ Chromatius of Aquileia; Augustine also deplored the 
quarrel (CX. 6). Melania was included in Jerome's wrath 
(Letter CXXXIII. 3). 

* A.D. 410. Cf. the preface to the commentary on Ezekiel 
(written 410-14) and to Jeremiah (written 417-19); also 
Letter CXXV. (p. 431). 



502 



INDEX OF PROPER NAMES 



AlRON, 209, 319, 479 

Abel, 151 

Abigail, 191 

Abisatna, 401 

Abishag, 191, 195, 199 

Abraham, 55, 93, 97, 151, 159, 191, 

269, 271,279.333,439 
Abundantius, 301 
Adam, 269, 347, 471 
Aegaean sea, 494 
Aelius Donatus. Cf . Donatus. 
Aemilian familv, viii 
Aeneas, 338 
Africa, 496 
Africanus, 486 
Ahab, 319 
Ahasuerus, 421 
Alans, 301 
Alaric, 438, 439 
Albina (mother of Marcella), 187, 441, 

449, 484, 485. 487 
Albinus, Pontifi of Jupiter, 338, 339, 

487, 496 
Alexander, 147 
Alexander the Great, 349; gates of 

(i.e. Caspian Gates), 329 
Alexandria, 308, 343, 448, 484, 499 
Alps, 5, 301 

Altinum, liv, 188, 282, 283, 295 
Amalek, 305 
Amandns, 486 
Ambrose (bishop of Milan 374-397), 

17, 102, 103, 170, 485, 486, 489 
Ambrose (a friend of Origen), 171 
Anunon (son of Noah), 73, 79 
Anunon (an Egyptian monk), 484 
Amos, 47, 167 
Ananias, 219. 279 
Anastasius (Pope 398-402), 459, 500, 

501 



Anaiagoras, 273 

Anna, 27, 157, 259, 263, 443 

Antimos, 119 

Antioch, vii, viii, lii, 2, 16, 303, 308, 

331, 453, 488, 494 
Antony, St . (bom in Egypt c. 250, after 

living as a hermit for many years he 

left his solitude to become the 

founder of monasticism in N. 

Egypt), 143, 449, 484 
Aquileia, vii, 2, 23, 27, 308, 493, 498- 

502 
Arabia, 303, 400 
Arcadians, 303 
Arcadius (emperor of the East 395- 

408), 300 
Argns, 245 

Arian (heresy), 17, 27, 299, 449, 484 
Aristotle, 53, 349 
Armenians, 343 
Amobins, 287 

Asella, 178, 179, 187, 485, 492 
Aser (tribe of), 259, 443 
Asia, 405 
Assa, 301 

Assyria, Assyrians, 105", 167, 305 
Assvrian Mng, 61 
Ateilan (farces), 190, 191 
Aterbius, 499 
Atbanasins (Patriarch of Alexandria 

and the principal opponent of 

Arianism, d. 373), 365, 448, 449, 

484 
Athens, Athenians, Attic, 173, 303, 

307, 405 
Atlantic Ocean, 271 
Attalus (king of Pergamum), 21 
Altila, 439 
Aufidii, 275 

Augiensis (Turicensis), xv 
Augustine (the Great; Bishop of 
Hippo, d. 432), xii, liv, 602 



INDEX OF PROPER NAMES 



Auxentius (Bishop of Milan), 17 
Aventine, viii, 439, 484 
Azov, sea of, 329 



B 

Babylon, 23, 63, 67, 186, 187, 247, 

341, 353, 371 
Babylonian, 365 
Bacchus, 247 
Balaam, 327 
Barak, 261 
Barnabas, 461 
Basil, St., 412 
Basle, XV 

Bathsheba, 77, 191 
Beelzebub, 167 
Belial, 125 
Belsbazzar, 105 
Benedictine (edition), xv 
Benjamin, 158, 159, 279 
Berolinensis, xv 
Bessians (tribe of), 273 
Bethlehem, ix-xii, 178, 227, 255, 264, 

313, 330, 338, 490, 494, 495, 496, 499, 

501 
Bezaleel, 291 
Black Sea, 337 
Blesilla(d. of Paula), \-iii, ix, 83, 158, 

159, 161, 167, 231, 311, 487, 490, 

491, 492 
Blesilla (mother of Paula), 486 
Bonosus, vii, 21, 23 
Brahmans, 257 
Britain, 271, 335 
Bruti, 275 
Burdigala (Bordeaux), 493 



Caesar, 317. Cf . Kero. 

CamUlus (Furius), 229, 233, 337 

Canaan, 136 

Cannae, 19 

Canticles, xi 

Capitol, 341 

Cappadocian, 210 

Caracalla (emperor), 314 

Carmelite, 415 

Cameades, 273 

Carthage, 102 

Caspian, 328 

Oato, Catos, 195, 4?1 

Caucasus, 303, 329 



Cenobites, 137 

Oerealis, 441, 443 

Ceres, 247, 363 

Chalcis (desert of), vii, 18 

Chaldaean, xi, 55, 65, 167, 411 

Charybdis, 39, 401 

Ohimaera, 433 

Chremes, 230, 231 

Chromatius (Bishop of Aquileia), 19, 

27, 309, 502 
Chronicle (of Eusebius), xii 
Chronicles (the), 305, 319 
Cicero, Ciceronian, xii, xiii, 125, 127, 

213, 233, 273, 275,419 
Cleanthes, 195 
Clitomachus, 273 
Colonieusis, xv 

Constantinople, 8, 298, 301, 308 
Constantius (Emperor), 398, 399 
Corinthians, 153, 215, 303, 339 
Cornelia, 233 

Cornelius (Centurion), 47, 281, 401 
Crantor, 273 
Crassi, Crassus, 25, 275 
Croesus, 287, 415, 447 
Cvbele, 175, 361 
Cydnus, 303 
Cyprian (Bishop of Carthage, fl. 258), 

102, 103, 287, 365 
Cyprus, 453, 488, 494 



D 

Dacia, 301 

Dalilah, 77 

Dalmatia, vii, 19, 301, 438 

Dalmsftian Islands. 283 

Damasus (Pope 366-384), viii, 102, 

103,183,483,489,491,499 
Danae, 476, 477 
Daniel, xi, 13, 47, 75, 113, 247 
Dardania,301 
Darius, 287, 329 
David, 47, 51, 77, 191, 203, 217, 233, 

275, 319 
Deborah, 261 
Deiphobus, 168 
Democritus, 195, 273 
Demosthenes, 213 
Desiderius, 483 
Didvmus, xii, 170 
Dinah, 109, 353 
Diogenes, 273 
Diomede, 120, 121 



504 



INDEX OF PROPER NAMES 



Dives, 97 
Domitins, 2»)9 
Domnio, 483 
Donatus, Aelius, vii 



Ecclesiastes, xi 

Effvpt, Egyptians, 21, 53, 77, 107, 135, 

169, 187, 273, 283, 303, 322, 327, 

329, 335, 343, 359, 419, 471, 484, 

491, 494, 498 
EU, 353 

Elijah, 59, 73, 91, 99, 133, 259, 319 
Elis. 290 

Elisha, 59, 73. 99 
Ennius. 297, 449, 460 
Epaphras, 277 
Ephesians, xi 
Epicurus, 213 
Epiphanius fBishop of Salamis in 

Cyprus), 453, 487, 488, 491, 494, 498, 

499 
Epirus, 301 
Erasmus, xv 
Esau, 279, 423 
Essenes, 141 
Esther (roll of), 365 
Ethiopia, 57, 343 
Ethiopians, 67, 329 
Etna, 243 
Etruscan Sea, 325 
Engenius, 298, 301 
Euphrates, 23, 167, 303 
Euripides, 213 
Europe, ix 

Eusebius (Bishop of Caesarea), xii 
Busebius (brother of Chromatitis), 19, 

27,308 
Eusebius (father of Jerome), vii 
Eusebius Hieronymus. Ct. Jerome. 

ristochicun (Eustochia), viii-x, 53, 
67, 111, 178, 187, 227, 231, 232, 338, 
351, 367, 450, 451, 483, 487,488,490, 
492 494—496 
Euxine (Black Sea), 3, 337 
Evagrius, 16, 17, 19 
Eve, 93, 99 
Evilat,403 
Eiuperius (Bishop of Touloaae), 228, 

249, 437 
Ezekiel, x, xi, 77, 167, 239, 502 
Ezra, 187,365 



Fabiola, 308-337, 486, 489, 495 

FabiuB (Q. Fabius Maiimus), 313 

Fabins (Q. Fabius Pictor), 291 

FeUcitae, 187, 485 

Felix. Cf. Macarius. 

Felix (Minucius), 287 

Freemantle (Canon), xi, xv 

Fronto, 419 

Furia (d. of Titiana), 228, 229, 232, 

486 
Furitis. Cf . CJamillus. 
Ftirius (son of Titiana), 487 



Gabriel. 147, 355 

Gainas, 30<J 

Galatians, xi 

Galen, 245 

Galli(the). 275 

Gallius, Quintus, 213 

Ganges, 403 

Gaudentius, 481 

Gaul, xi, 299, 371-372, 405, 496 

(Jauls (the), 337 

Gaza, 342, 343 

Genesis, 197 

Gennesaret (Lake), 411 

Getae, 343 

Gotha, XV 

Gothic OVar), 299 

Ck)ths, vii. 273, 301, 438 

Gracchi, 232, 235, 349 

Gracchorum stirps (of Paula), 486 

Gracchus (Prefect of Rome), 341 

Gratian, 298, 299 

Greek, xi, 143, 165, 195, 273, 303, 349, 

405, 421, 489 
Gregory Sazianzen, viii, 211 
Gregory of Nyssa, viii 
Gymnoeophists, 357 



H 

Habakknk, 61, 75 

Halys (River), 303 

Haman, 101 

Hannah, 345, 369, 411 

Hannibal, 19 

Hebrew, Hebrews, 273, 419, 489 



505 



INDEX OF PROPER NAMES 



Hecuba, 297 

Helen, 479 

Heliodorus (Bishop of Altinutn), xiv, 

29, 188, 189, 199, 265, 311, 331, 488 
HeMdius, xii, 101, 489, 490 
Heptateuch, 365 
Herbert, Lady, 496 
Hercules, 175 
Herodotus, 329 
Hesiod, 195, 297 
Hezekiah, 105, 159, 305 
Hieronymus, Eusebius. Cf. Jerome. 
Hilarion (a hermit), xii, xiii 
Hilary (Bishop of Poitiers, fl. 360), 

287, 367 
Hilberg, xiv, xv 
Hippias (of Blis), 290 
Hippocrates, 225, 427 
Hiram, 291 
Holofernes, 101, 261 
Holy Land (the), 331, 493 
Homer, 195 
Horace, 125 
Hortensius, 349 
Hosea, 269, 483 

Huns, 301, 304, 309, 329, 343, 495 
HTlas, 487, 493 

Hymetius, Julius Festus, 351 , 487-488 
Hyrcanian, 33 



Iconium, 156 

India, Indians, 271, 273, 343, 403 

Irmocentius, 2, 3 

Isaac, 191, 269, 279, 367 

Isaiah, xi, 111, 145, 157, 167, 261, 435 

Ishmael, 279 

Isidore, 135, 484, 494 

Isis, 361 

Isocrates, 195 

Israel, 63, 73, 109, 191, 263, 271, 305, 

333, 469 
Italy, 295, 329, 438, 439, 486,490, 500 



Jacob, 61, 77, 97, 135, 153, 239, 269, 

275, 333, 423 
James, St., 101 
Jebus (cf. Jerusalem), 463 
Jehoshaphat, 305 
Jephthah, 279 
Jeremiah, x, xii, 99, 143, 167, 249, 

391, 459, 502 



Jericho, 197 

Jerome, vii fE., 2, 16, 18, 19, 24, 54, 74, 

77, 88, 178, 188, 192, 196, 214, 228, 

264, 308, 309, 338, 352, 396, 430, 436, 

438, 4.56, 460, 483, 484, 486-496, 

498-502 
Jerusalem (Jebus), vii, 35, 55, 97, 113, 

125, 157, 167, 181, 186, 187, 203, 308, 

321, 327, 331, 419, 455, 463, 493, 

494, 498-500 
Jesse, 93 
Jews, Jewish, 53, 55, 143, 153, 161, 

185, 186, 187, 217, 275, 357, 399, 

401, 411, 447, 451 
Jezebel, 73 
Job, xi, 61, 77, 365 
John of Jerusalem, xii, 460, 484, 498- 

500 
John (the Baptist), 77, 143, 161, 271, 

345, 409 
John (the Evangelist), 23, 101, 451 
Jonadab, 410, 411 
Jonah, 267, 321 
Jones, Sir William, 464 
Jordan, 279, 327, 409 
Josedech, 187 
Joseph, 159 
Josephus, 143 
Joshua, 95, 187, 275 
Jove, 341 
Jovian, 299 

Jovinian, xii, xiii, 265, 490 
Jovinus, 19 

Judaea, vii, 105, 215, 261, 411 
Judah, 131, 271 
Judas, 47, 145, 239, 399 
Judith, xi, 101, 261 
Julia. Cf. Eustochium. 
Julian, 23, 25 
Julian Alps, 301 
Julian (Emperor), 298, 299, 488 
Jupiter, 53 



Kenites, 197 
Keturah, 97 



LabrioUc, P. dc, xvi 

Lacedaemonians, 303 

Lactantius, 287 

Laeta (dau.-in-law of Paula), 338, 339, 

496 
Lake Gennesaret, 411 



506 



INDEX OF PROPER NAMES 



Lateranus, 317 

lAtios, xiv, 273, 275 

Lazanis, 97, 267, 269, 277, 325 

Lea, 485 

LeotheGrvat, 439 

Loonides (tutor of Alexander), 319 

Levite, 187, 201 

Ijberiiis (Pope 352-365), 485 

Ugiirian, 5 

Livj, lii, 143 

lonmnos, 431 

Lot, 57. 71 

Lot's wife, 57 

Lucifer, Luciferian, lii, 61 

Lucilius, 25, 372, 373 

Lacius Faolus, 275 

Lake, St., xi, 211, 259, 347 

Lapicinus, 24, 25 

Lyons, Lugdonensis, it, 298, 299 

M 

Macarius (a monk of Nitria, probably 
the same as one mentioned in a 
letter to Bofinos dated 374, ep. Ill), 
135 

Macarius (a Boman (Christian, disciple 
of Bufinos), 456, 457, 500 

Maccabees, 27 

Macedonia. 301, 371 

Maecia. Cf. Pi^iria. 

Magdala (Mary of), 451 

Malchus (hermit), vii, lii, liii 

Malta, 335 

Manasseh, 319 

Manes, Manichaean, 81, 149 

Marah, 73, 415 

Marcella, vlii, x, 117, 158, 159, 
166, 167, 171, 177, 187, 263, 343, 
438, 439, 441-^67, 4S#-49<3, 492, 
494-496, 501 

Marcella, perhaps sister of the above, 
187, 485 

Marcelli (the), 275 

Maroellina (sister of Ambrose), 102, 
103, 187, 485 

Marcellus, 19 

Marcomanni, 301, 303 

Maria Maggiore (church of), x 

Marianna Victcsius, xr 

Marii(tbe), 275 

Hamas, 343 

lCaraemes,436 

Martha, 107 

Maitianay, xr 



Mary (mother of Christ), 91, 99 101, 

147, 155, 199, 329, 345, 355, 357, 

367, 451 
Marv of Magdala, 450, 451 
Mary (sister of Martha), 167, 451 
Massagetac (tribe of), 329 
Matthew, St., xi. 347 
Maximi (the), 275 
Maximns (emperor), 298, 301 
Maximus, Quintus Fabius. Cf. 

Qointos. 
Medea, 450 

Medes, Media, 299, 329 
Melanium (or Melania), 183, 185, 493, 

494, 498-502 
Melania (granddaughter of the abore), 

494 
Menander, 213 
Menelaos, 479 
Mesopotamia, 167, 2S3 
Metelli(the), 275 
Methuselah, 207, 295 
Micah, 499 
Migne, xv 

Milan, 17, 170, 485, 489, 501 
Minucius, Felix, 287 
Miriam, 253, 321 
Mithras, 341 

Moab, Moabite, 73, 261, 463 
Moeris, 191 
Monacensis, xt 
Montanns, 321 
Mopsus (Mopsucrene, near TarsnsX 

299 
Moses, 73, 95, 107, 191, 269, 275, 283, 

305, 321, 327, 411, 425, 479, 481 



N 

Nabal (the Carmelite), 415 

Naboth, 319 

Xs^vius, 297 

Xaomi, 261 

Kazianzen. Cf . Gregory. 

Xeapolitanos, xr 

Xebnchadnezzar, 23, 99, 187, 305, 341 

Nepotian, xiv, 31, 188, 189, 227, 265, 

277, 279, 281-289, 291, 305, 309, 311, 

413 
Nero, 253, 316, 317, 431 
Nestor, 195 

Nicolas, Nicolaitanes, 47 
Nineveh, 269, 319 
Nidbe, 297 
Nitria (Egypt), 135, 484 



507 



INDEX OF PROPER NAMES 



Noah, 71, 95 
Nola, 19 
Novatius, 321 
Kumantia, 337 
Jfyssa. Cf . Gregory. 

O 

Oceaous (kinsman of Fabiola, corre- 
spondent of Jerome), 308, 309, 311, 
483, 495, 501 

Oedipus, 195 

Olives, Mt. of, 493, 494, 498 

OUiphant, Mrs., 496 

Olympus, 243 

Onasus (of Segcsta), 1G6-1G9 

Ophite (heresy), 47 

Origen of Alexandria (185-253), xi, 
170, 171, 173, 456, 457, 498-503 

Orontes, 303 

Orpheus, 387 

Ostia, 178, 309, 492, 496 



Pacatula, 467, 475, 480, 481 
Pachumius, Pachomius (d. c. 349; the 
founder of Monasticism in Upper 
Egypt and one of the first to collect 
solitary ascetics under a rule; his 
sister founded a convent for 
women), xiv, 449 
Palestine, ix, x, 303, 309, 372, 486, 

495, 498-501 
Pambos (d. 393 ; a mont of Nitria ; he 
entertained Melania on her visit 
there and was a prominent sup- 
porter of the Xicene doctrine), 135 
Pammachius (son-in-law of Paula and 
correspondent of Jerome), 204, 309, 
311, 333, 483, 490, 496, 501, 603 
Pannonia, 136, 301 
Papinian, 315 
Papiria, Maecia, 486 
Papirius, 337 
Paris, Parisinus, xv 
Paris, 479 
Parthians, 335 

Paul, St., 33, 35, 49, 61, 71, 125, 147, 
153, 156, 158, 159, 169, 211, 215, 
217, 239, 247, 279, 315, 339, 465, 
475 
Paula, viii-x, 178, 181-187, 231, 232, 
277, 309, 338, 367, 369, 371, 450, 
451, 484, 486-^96, 499 



Paula (grand-daughter of the above), 

338-371, 496 
Paulina (d. of Paula I), 309, 311, 333, 

490, 495 
Paulinian, or Paulinus (brother of 

Jerome), 178, 492 
Paulinus (bishop of Antioch), viii,463. 

488 
Pauli heres (of Paula), 486 
Paulus (Lucius), 275 
Paulus (a hermit), xii, xiii, 142, 143 
Pelion, 450-451 
Pergamum, 21 
Pericles, 273 

Persia, Persian, 273, 298, 343, 421 
Persius, 171 
Peter, St., 35, 47, 133, 159, 209, 217, 

317, 401, 451 
Peter (Patriarch of Alexandria), 448, 

449 
Phanuel, 157, 259, 443 
Pharaoh, 107, 156, 253, 401 
Phares, 197 

Pharisee, 321, 447, 451, 457 
Philemon, xi 
Philip (of Jlacedon), 349 
Philo, 143 
Phison, 403 
Phoenicia, 303 
Phygellus, 147 
Pinetum, 500 
Pinianus, 494 
Pisos (the), 275 
Pityus, 301 

Plato, 53, 143, 195, 273, 295, 451 
Plautus, 125 
Pliny, xiii, 419 
Pompey, 337 
Posidonius, 273 
Pouget, XT^ 
Praetextata (wife of Hymetius), 351. 

488 
Principia (companion of Marcella), 

439, 465, 467, 495 
Procopius, 298, 301 
Proculus (Bishop of Marseilles), 437 
Ptolemy, 21 

Publicola, son of Melania, 494 
Publius, 335 
PulvUlus, 275 
Pythagoras, 195, 273, 354, 355 



Q 



Quadians, 301 



508 



INDEX OF PROPER NAMES 



QttintUiaii, 419 
Quintus Fabius, 291 
Quintns Gallius. Cf. Gallius. 
Quintus Maximus. Cf. Fabios. 

R 

Rachel, 99, 153 

Rahab, 149. 197 

Rebecca, 191, 423 

Rechab, 197 

Red Sea, 155, 401, 445 

Remnouth, 137 

Rogatus (father of Paula), 486 

Rome, Romans, vii, xii, it, 17, 19, 53, 
67, 83, 119, 125, 133. 152. 169, 175, 
183, 195, 232, 254, 255, 263, 275, 
277, 299, 301-309, 316, 317, 325- 
337, 363, 364, 367, 405, 423, 436- 
441, 449, 453-165, 479, 483-196, 500, 
501 

Rofina (d. of Paola), 495 

Rufinus (of AqoUeia), lii, 430, 456, 
493,494,496, 498-502 

Rufinus, 301, 499 

Rusticus (Bishop of Xarbonne), 396, 
397, 399 



Salamis (in Crpnis), 453, 488, 494, 499 

Sallust, 305, 33; 

Samaria, Samaritans, 53, 73, 167, 187, 

231, 399 
SMnnites, 337 
Samaon, 77, 345 
Samuel, 27, 345, 367, 411 
Saracens, 19 
Sarah, 157, 191 
Sardanapallus, 253 
Sarmatians, 3ul 
Satan, 45, 75, 131, 105, 181, 183, 255, 

317 
Sauhes, 137 
Scaevolas (the), 275 
Scauri (the), 275 
Scipio, 337; Scipionum suboles (of 

Paula), 486 
ScvUa, 39, 401 
ScTthia, 301, 325, 343 
Segesta, 169 
Seneca, liii 
Sephora, 191 

Serapis (Temple of), 342, 343 
Sharon, 93 



Sharpe (Eer. Father), ivi 

Shnmanite, 191, 192, 193, 197 

Simonides, 195 

Sion, 23, 65, 97, 187 

Siricius (Pope 384-398), viii,491, 501 

Socrates, 213, 273 

Sodom, 57 

Solomon, 57. 79, 83, 151, 193, 203, 

225, 365, 399, 419, 433, 477 
Sophocles, 195 
Sophronia, 449, 485 
Sophronius, 119 
Spain, 496 
Spinaliensis, xv 
Stephen, St., 47 
Stesichorus, 195 
Stilicho, 438 

Stridon (Dalmatia), vii, 24 
Susannah, 13, 246 

Svria, Svrians, 19, 131, 342, 453, 484, 
"493 



Tanais, 329 

Telamon, 273 

Terence, 230 

Tertullian, 103, 287 

Thamar, 79 

Thebaid (Egypt), 449 

Thecla, 157 

Theodosius (a hermit), vii 

Theodosins 1 lemperor 379-395), 298, 

300, 438, 486 
Theophilus (Patriarch of Alexandria), 

499,500 
Theophrastus, 194 
Thessalv, 301 
Thierrv, xv,486 

Thrace, Thracians, 272, 299, 301 
Thucvdides, 305 
Tiber", ix 
Timasius, 301 

Timothy, 71, 219, 247, 283, 435 
Tishbite, 319 
Titiana, 229, 487 
Titus, xi, 339, 369 
Tobit, xi 
Torcello, 282 
Toulouse, 228, 436, 437 
Toiotius. Julius (husband of Paula), 

338, 486 
Toiotius (son of the above), 338, 339, 

369, 488, 493, 496 
Tyre, Tyrian, 291, 331 



509 



INDEX OF PROPER NAMES 

U Vincentius (a priest, friend of Jerome), 

Uzziah,105 T7--^^-^,'to^ior 

Virgil, 33, 125 

Volsciau (Province), 325 

y Vulcan, 169, 243 

Valens, 298, 299 tt- 

Valentinian, 204, 298, 299 

Valerian (Bishop of Aquileia in 370), Wright, P. A., xvi, 448, 456 

25 
Vallarsi, Dominic, xy v 

Vandals, 301 

Vashti, 421 ' Xenocrates, 195 

Vaticanus, xv Xenophon, 273 

Venetia, 282 Xerxes, 307 

Venus, 175, 247 

Vercellae, 5 2 

Verona, xv 

Vesuvius, 243 Zarephath, 133, 259, 437 

Victorinus, 287, 483 Zechariah, 199 

Victorias. Cf. Marianus. Zeno, 195 

Vigilantius, xii Zockler, O., iv 



510 



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