That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.


Postby admin » Sun Sep 20, 2015 8:39 am

edited with translation and notes by Aurelia Henry
© 1904 by Aurelia Henry




Soleva Roma, che il buon mondo feo,
Duo Soli aver, che l'una e l'altra strada
Facean vedere, e del mondo e di Deo.
-- PURGATORIO, xvi. 106


Table of Contents:

• Preface
• Introduction
o I. Introduction
o II. To what end does government exist among all men?
o III. To actualize the whole capacity of the possible intellect in speculation and action
o IV. To attain this end humanity requires universal peace
o V. When several things are ordained for one end, one must rule and the others obey
o VI. The order which is found in the parts of the human race should be found in the race as a whole
o VII. The relation of kingdoms and nations to the monarch should be that of humanity to God
o VIII. Men are made in the image of God; but God is one
o IX. Men, as the sons of Heaven, should follow in the footprints of Heaven
o X. In order to settle all disputes a supreme judge is necessary
o XI. The world is best ordered when in it Justice is preeminent
o XII. Humanity is ordered for the best when most free
o XIII. He who is best adapted for ruling is the best director of other men
o XIV. What one agent can do is better done by one than by many
o XV. In every sort of thing that is best which is most one
o XVI. Christ willed to be born in the fullness of time when Augustus was Monarch
o I. Introduction
o II. What God wills in human society is to be held as right
o III. The Romans as the noblest people deserved precedence before all others
o IV. Because the Roman Empire was aided by miracles it was willed of God
o V. The Roman people in subduing the world had in view the good of the state and therefore the end of Right
o VI. He who purposes Right proceeds according to Right
o VII. The Roman people were ordained for Empire by nature
o VIII. The decree of God showed that Empire belonged to the Roman people
o IX. The Romans were victorious over all contestants for Empire
o X. That which is acquired by single combat is acquired with Right
o XI. The single combats of the Roman people
o XII. Christ in being born proved that the authority of the Roman Empire was just
o XIII. Christ in dying confirmed the jurisdiction of the Roman Empire over all humanity
o I. Introduction
o II. God wills not that which is counter to the intention of nature
o III. Of the three classes of our opponents and the too great authority many ascribe to tradition
o IV. The opponents' argument adduced from the sun and moon
o V. Argument from the precedence of Levi over Judah
o VI. Argument from the election and deposition of Saul by Samuel
o VII. Argument from the oblation of the Magi
o VIII. Argument from the prerogative of the keys consigned to Peter
o IX. Argument from the two swords
o X. Argument from the donation of Constantine
o XI. Argument from the summoning of Charles the Great by Pope Hadrian
o XII. Argument from reason
o XIII. The Authority of the Church is not the source of Imperial authority
o XIV. The Church received power of transference neither from God, from herself, nor from any Emperor
o XV. The prerogative of conferring authority upon the Empire is contrary to the nature of the Church
o XVI. The authority of the Empire derives from God directly

Whoever contemplates the good of the state contemplates the end of Right....If, therefore, the Romans had in view the good of the state, the assertion is true that they had in view the end of Right.

That in subduing the world the Roman people had in view the aforesaid good, their deeds declare. We behold them as a nation holy, pious, and full of glory, putting aside all avarice, which is ever adverse to the general welfare, cherishing universal peace and liberty, and disregarding private profit to guard the public weal of humanity. Rightly was it written, then, that "The Roman Empire takes its rise in the fountain of pity."

Concerning corporate assemblies, in which individuals seem in a measure bound to the state, the solitary authority of Cicero in the second book of Moral Duties is sufficient. "So long," he says, "as the dominion of the Republic was upheld by benefits, not by injuries, war was waged in behalf either of allies or dominion, for a conclusion either beneficent or necessary, the Senate was a harbor of refuge for kings, peoples, and nations. Our magistrates and generals strove for praise in defending with equity and fidelity the provinces and the allies; so this government might rather have been called a defense than a dominion of the whole world."

Of individual persons I shall speak briefly. Can we say they were not intent on the common weal who in sweat, in poverty, in exile, in deprivation of children, in loss of limbs, and even in the sacrifice of their lives, strove to augment the public good?

Did not the renowned Cincinnatus leave to us a sacred example, when he freely chose the time to lay aside that dignity which, as Livy says, took him from the plough to make him dictator? After his victory, after his triumph, he gave back to the consuls the imperial sceptre, and voluntarily returned to toil at the plough handle behind his oxen. Cicero, disputing with Epicurus in his volume of the Chief Good, remembered and lauded this excellent action, saying, "And thus our ancestors took great Cincinnatus from the plough that he might become dictator."

And did not Brutus first teach that the love of sons and of all others should be subordinated to the love of national liberty? When he was consul, Livy says, he delivered up to death his own sons for conspiring with the enemy. In the sixth book our Poet revives the glory of this hero: "In behalf of beauteous liberty shall the father doom to death his own sons instigating new wars."

That people, then, which was victorious over all the contestants for Empire gained its victory by the decree of God. For as it is of deeper concern to God to adjust a universal contention than a particular one, and as even in particular contentions the decree of God is sought by the contestants, according to the familiar proverb, "To him whom God grants aught, let Peter give his blessing," therefore undoubtedly among the contestants for the Empire of the world, victory ensued from a decree of God. That among the rivals for world-Empire the Roman people came off victor will be clear if we consider the contestants and the prize or goal toward which they strove. This prize or goal was sovereign power over all mortals, or what we mean by Empire. This was attained by none save by the Roman people, not only the first but the sole contestant to reach the goal contended for.

The kingdom is apportioned by the sword, and the fortune of the mighty nation that is master over sea, over land, and over all the globe, suffers not two in command. Wars engaged in for the crown of Empire should be waged without bitterness.

If to contradict the truth thus manifested, the usual objection be raised concerning the inequality of men's strength, it may be refuted by the instance of David's victory over Goliath. And if the Gentiles seek another instance, they may refute it by the victory of Hercules over Antaeus.

Now let presumptuous jurists behold how far they stand beneath that watch-tower of reason whence the human mind looks out upon these principles, and let them be silent, content to give counsel and judgment according to the import of the law.

Thus far the argument has progressed through reason based chiefly on rational principles, but from now on it shall be re-demonstrated through the principles of Christian faith.

Now Christ willed to be born of a Virgin Mother under an edict of Roman authority, according to the testimony of Luke, his scribe, in order that the Son of Man, made man, might be numbered as a man in that unique census. This fulfilled the edict. It were perhaps more reverent to believe that the Divine Will caused the edict to go forth through Caesar, in order that God might number Himself among the society of mortals who had so many ages awaited His coming. So Christ in His action established as just the edict of Augustus, exerciser of Roman authority. Since to decree justly presupposes jurisdictional power, whoever confirms the justice of an edict confirms also the jurisdictional power whence it issued.

By the sin of Adam we are all sinners, according to the Apostle: "As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.'" If satisfaction had not been given for this sin through the death of Christ, we, owing to our depraved nature, should still be children of wrath.

For greater clearness, let it be understood that punishment is not simply penalty visited upon the doer of wrong, but penalty visited upon the doer of wrong by one having penal jurisdiction. Wherefore unless punishment is inflicted by a lawful judge, it is no punishment; rather must it be called a wrong. If therefore Christ did not suffer under a lawful judge, his penalty was not punishment. Lawful judge meant in that case one having jurisdiction over the entire human race, since all humanity was punished in the flesh of Christ, who, as the Prophet says, "hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." And Tiberius Caesar, whose vicar was Pilate, would not have possessed jurisdiction over the entire human race had not the Roman Empire existed by Right. Wherefore let those who pretend they are sons of the Church cease to defame the Roman Empire, to which Christ the Bridegroom gave His sanction both at the beginning and at the close of His warfare.

It must be understood that man alone of all beings holds the middle place between corruptibility and incorruptibility, and is therefore rightly compared by philosophers to the horizon which lies between the two hemispheres. Man may be considered with regard to either of his essential parts, body or soul. If considered in regard to the body alone, he is perishable; if in regard to the soul alone, he is imperishable.

If man holds a middle place between the perishable and imperishable, then, inasmuch as every mean shares the nature of the extremes, man must share both natures. And inasmuch as every nature is ordained for a certain ultimate end, it follows that there exists for man a twofold end, in order that as he alone of all beings partakes of the perishable and the imperishable, so he alone of all beings should be ordained for two ultimate ends.

Ineffable Providence has thus designed two ends to be contemplated of man: first, the happiness of this life, which consists in the activity of his natural powers, and is prefigured by the terrestrial Paradise; and then the blessedness of life everlasting, which consists in the enjoyment of the countenance of God, to which man's natural powers may not attain unless aided by divine light, and which may be symbolized by the celestial Paradise.

To these states of blessedness, just as to diverse conclusions, man must come by diverse means. To the former we come by the teachings of philosophy, obeying them by acting in conformity with the moral and intellectual virtues; to the latter through spiritual teachings which transcend human reason, and which we obey by acting in conformity with the theological virtues, Faith, Hope, and Charity. Now the former end and means are made known to us by human reason, which the philosophers have wholly explained to us; and the latter by the Holy Spirit, which has revealed to us supernatural but essential truth through the Prophets and Sacred Writers, through Jesus Christ, the coeternal Son of God, and through His disciples. Nevertheless, human passion would cast all these behind, were not men, like horses astray in their brutishness, held to the road by bit and rein.

Wherefore a twofold directive agent was necessary to man, in accordance with the twofold end; the Supreme Pontiff to lead the human race to life eternal by means of revelation, and the Emperor to guide it to temporal felicity by means of philosophic instruction. And since none or few -- and these with exceeding difficulty -- could attain this port, were not the waves of seductive desire calmed, and mankind made free to rest in the tranquillity of peace, therefore this is the goal which he whom we call the guardian of the earth and Roman Prince should most urgently seek; then would it be possible for life on this mortal threshing-floor to pass in freedom and peace.

-- De Monarchia of Dante Alighieri
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Postby admin » Sun Sep 20, 2015 8:40 am


THE De Monarchia is easily accessible in Latin editions, but an English version is practically unobtainable, at least by the American student of Dante. To be sure, it has twice been done into English, once by Mr. F. J. Church (Macmillan, 1878), and again by Mr. P. H. Wicksteed (Hull, 1896). If the former translation had not been long out of print, and the latter had not been published for private circulation only, the present volume would have less excuse for being. But with the growing interest in Dante, and the increasing number of Dante students in this country, the demand for ready access to all the poet's work becomes imperative. It is in response to this demand of the American student of Dante in and out of college that this translation has been undertaken.

In the notes which accompany the text the translator has had in mind chiefly the needs and interests of the literary student. Although the purpose of the annotation is to make the treatise clear in whole and in part by explanation and citation, it includes the effort to indicate at every possible point the relation existing between the De Monarchia and the Divine Comedy, the Convito, and the Letters. Many of the notes may be of little use to the student of civil government or to the general reader, but it is believed their value to the literary student will prove sufficient reason for their presence. The source of Dante's theories is noted wherever practicable, his debt to Aristotle, to the Hebrew Scriptures, and to Thomas Aquinas needing most frequent mention. In the cross-references to Dante's other works the translator has endeavored to point out as exhaustively as possible the recurrence of favorite ideas, and even of favorite figures of speech, as in the case of the metaphor of the seal and the wax. [1]

The references to Aristotle, and quotations from him, are almost without exception based on the Bohn translations of Aristotle. Biblical references are to the Authorized Version, except where indication is made to the contrary. In citations from the Summa Theologiae, the Latin text (Bloud and Barral, Paris, 1880) has been used, save in the few cases where the translation of the Ethics by Joseph Rickaby (New York, 1896) is indicated. In the quotations from the Divine Comedy, the edition and translation of A. J. Butler (Macmillan, 1891-92) has invariably been made use of; in quotations from the Convito, the translation of Miss Katharine Hillard (Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1889), and in those from the Letters, that of C. L Latham (Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1891).

The principal Latin texts of the De Monarchia are those edited by Fraticelli, Florence, 1860; Witte, Vienna, 1874; Giuliani, Florence, 1878; and Moore, Oxford, 1894. The Oxford text has been followed without exception, though in a few cases variant readings have been given in the notes. The earliest edition of the De Monarchia was printed at Basle in 1559. It had been translated into Italian in the fifteenth century by Marsilio Ficino. There are two German versions, that of Kannegiesser, Leipzig, 1845, and that of Hubatsch, Berlin, 1872. The two English translations have already been mentioned. Of them it only remains to add that a part of Church's translation is reprinted in Old South Leaflets, No. 123.

The Bibliography includes books likely to be helpful to the reader of the De Monarchia or the more general Dante student.

In the notes I am indebted to many commentaries and reference books. Moore's Studies in Dante, First Series, was indispensable for classical sources, Witte's Latin edition of 1874 for mediaeval sources, and Toynbee's Dante Dictionary for general reference.

I wish to express my gratitude to Mr. Charles Allen Dinsmore of Boston for his kindly interest and assistance in this translation, and to Dr. Albert S. Cook of Yale University, from whom came the first suggestion of the undertaking, and a continued encouragement and aid without which its completion would not have been possible.

A. H.

YALE UNIVERSITY, August, 1903.



1. See Professor Cook's list of the passages, and references to Aristotle, in Mod. Lang. Notes 15 (1900). 256 (511, 512).
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Postby admin » Sun Sep 20, 2015 8:40 am


HE who was "the spokesman of the Middle Ages," who saw and told of his fellow-men and their destiny, uttered a message not for one century of time only, nor of one significance. In each of Dante's larger works, the Vita Nuova, the Convito, the De Monarchia, and the Divine Comedy, this message is pronounced in one or all of its three phases, the religious, the philosophical, and the political. Because no author wrote with such singleness of purpose, nor through such diverse mediums carried to completion a solemn intent, the series of his productions are bound together as inevitably as the links of a chain, lending to one another meaning and value. And because these productions are so similar in purpose, if various in manner of expression, we may call them a unified message, and may apply to them all the words of explanation the poet sent to Can Grande when he presented to him "the sublime Canticle of the Comedy which is graced with the title of Paradiso." "The aim of the whole and the part," he wrote, "is to remove those living in this life from a state of misery, and to guide them to a state of happiness."

The recognition by the student of this desire to know and to help his brother man, which gives to Dante's writings a loftiness of tone and elevation of character that six centuries have failed to obscure, is the preventer of much misunderstanding, and the first essential to appreciative interpretation. The keynote of philanthropic endeavor Dante strikes early in the Convito, where he says, "I, knowing the miserable life of those whom I have left behind me, and moved to mercy by the sweetness of that which I have gained little by little, while not forgetting myself have reserved for those wretched ones something which I have already for some time held before their eyes." And again in the De Monarchia the author determines to concern himself in laboring for posterity, in order that future generations may be enriched" by his efforts. The message that Dante felt called upon to deliver to the world is, then, virtually the same in the four works we have mentioned, but in the Vita Nuova the religious aspect is paramount, in the Convito the philosophical, in the De Monarchia the political, while the Divine Comedy concerns itself with the message as a whole. We might say that each of the first three writings has its own melody, a simple motif; in the Comedy the three themes combining swell into a movement of wondrous and complex harmony. And we might sum up the thought of the entire message in the words of Matthew: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."

Lowell, recognizing the ministering spirit of Dante, has said: "There is proof upon proof that he believed himself invested with a divine mission. Like the Hebrew prophets, with whose writings his whole soul was imbued, it was back to the old worship and the God of the fathers that he called his people; and not Isaiah himself was more destitute of that humor, that sense of ludicrous contrast, which is an essential in the composition of a sceptic."

Or, to put the matter more concretely, Dante had looked abroad on mediaeval society, had engaged in the practical affairs of Italy, had grown to feel that he understood conditions better than other men, and so believed that he was called of God to point out to men the right road. He beheld the two institutions that had for centuries striven to unite all Europe in a common interest -- the Empire that had been revived under Charles the Great, and the Church that had attained to supremacy under Gregory VII -- and he realized how sadly each had failed of its ambition. He saw, further, that despite these efforts there had come about in Europe the formation of nationalities, each differing in language and character, each having its own peculiar government, each torn by internecine strife, and each at times warring with the others. And he, together with other thinkers of that period, longed for unity among men, for unity that seemed never to be made a reality. Yet Dante believed and proclaimed that such a unity could come about, but in one way only, through a regeneration of society and a uniting of political interests under one head independent of the Church. This is the political aspect of Dante's message.

But the De Monarchia, though it embodies Dante's political ideals, can be read understandingly and sympathetically only when these political ideals are related to those of his religion as set forth in his other works. These of turn depend upon his theory of the universe and of moral order. To make this matter clear, we will state briefly the fundamental principles upon which Dante constructed his theory. For him the universe begins and ends with God: it begins with God the First Cause, the Primal Motor, the Maker, the Alpha of all things; it terminates in God the Ultimate End, the Great Arbiter, the Chief Good, the Omega of fall things. The earth, on which dwells man, is at the centre of the created universe. About it are the nine moving heavens, according to the Ptolemaic astronomy, comprehended in the tenth, the Empyrean, the heaven which is at perfect rest because therein dwells God and Divine Love, and nothing is left for this heaven to desire. The Empyrean "is the sovereign edifice of the universe, in which all the world is included, and beyond which is nothing; and it is not in space, but was formed solely in the Primal Mind." Not less fundamental than the unitary concept of the universe is that of the duality of man's nature. This duality is not only in man's nature, but in all things pertaining to him, his mode of existence, his mode of acquiring knowledge. That is, man is endowed with a twofold nature, a perishable and an imperishable, a soul and a body. He therefore lives for two ends, happiness on earth and happiness to be attained in heaven. Earthly beatitude is reached by the right ordering of temporal affairs; heavenly beatitude is made possible by Papal guidance in matters of the spiritual realm. Moreover, his life is active or contemplative, governed by reason or faith, enlightened by philosophy or revelation. Armed with these two ideas, we can approach the work under consideration.

Starting from man's dual nature, the De Monarchia sets forth the manner in which the earthly happiness of the human race may be acquired by the right ordering of temporal affairs, the overlordship of a sole Monarch, the presence in the world of a Universal Empire. The body of the work is divided into three books, in each of which is expounded one side of the question at issue: first, the necessity of Universal Empire is proved; second, the right of the Romans to imperial authority; third, the direct bequeathing by God of this authority to the Romans without the mediation of the Church. In the first chapter the author says, "The knowledge of temporal Monarchy, one of the most important and most obscure of subjects, is brought forth from its hiding-place and explained for the good of the world."

The first book of the De Monarchia pronounces that that which is the purpose or end of the human race is "to actualize continually the entire capacity of the possible intellect, primarily in speculation,... secondarily in action;" that "in the calm and tranquillity of peace the human race fulfills most freely and easily its given work;" that "universal peace is the best of those things ordained for our beatitude;" that "to the shepherds sounded from on high the message, not of riches, nor pleasures, nor honors, nor length of life, nor health, nor beauty, but peace." [2] Peace can come, Dante insists, only when there is one Monarch to own all, to rule all, to embrace in his dominion all kingdoms and states, to harmonize opposing princes and factions, and to judge with justice all temporal questions. And let us not forget that Dante's passionate plea for peace arises amid the uninterrupted turbulence and strife of the never-to-be-pacified Italy of his day.

In taking up in the second book the question of Rome's foreordination for supremacy, Dante makes use of what was in his day a startling premise -- that, in the same manner in which the Jews were the chosen race for receiving and dispensing the religion of God to the peoples of the earth, so the Romans were the race chosen to receive and dispense the knowledge of law and justice. And in the proof at various points evidence is adduced as indisputably correct from Roman as well as Jew, from Virgil and Ovid, Lucan and Livy, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. History and poetic fiction have equal consideration and equal weight. To question his authorities never occurs to Dante. Especially from Virgil, "our divine poet," he takes his idea of the Roman Empire -- from Virgil, who in his Aeneid and Georgics sang of Rome, the conqueror and civilizer of the world; Rome, of origin divine, of antiquity great, of duration eternal, of jurisdiction universal. That Dante's reasoning throughout this second division of the treatise is often based on unauthentic statements, that therefore some of his proofs are of no lasting value, it is unnecessary to emphasize. Nor less strange than those that precede it is the final statement, the climax of the argument of the second book, that Christ by His birth under the edict of the Emperor Augustus, and by His death under the vicar of the Emperor Tiberius, confirmed the universal jurisdiction of the Roman Empire.

It is easy to object to the conclusions of the De Monarchia thus far, and to say that the end of man's being and God's foreordination of the Roman supremacy were fine subjects for theorizing, but that they could not carry any remedy for the evils in mediaeval Italy. It is easy to answer to them that peace was practically impossible when the Roman and Teutonic elements of society were not yet fused in the peoples of Europe; that the Roman Empire in its ancient sense had died when Romulus Augustulus laid down the sceptre in 476; that Dante entirely misapprehended the spirit of the ancient Roman supremacy; that, except under emperors of extraordinary talents, the Holy Roman Empire ever since its revival had been "a tradition, a fancied revival of departed glories;" and that, despite the endeavors of Imperialists and Papists, practically all power was in the hands of the nations as such, so that during Dante's life the Empire was growing more German, and the Papacy more French. As Mr. Bryce says, "In the days of Charles and Otto, the Empire, in so far as it was anything more than a tradition from times gone by, rested solely upon the belief that with the visible Church there must be coextensive a single Christian state under one head and governor." Yet in the first two books, whatever quaint absurdities be present, Dante promulgates the doctrine of international peace, a doctrine that even the twentieth century does not despise.

But the invaluable part of Dante's political message, and the pith of the De Monarchia, lies in the third division, where are discussed the relations of the Empire and Papacy, and where Dante publishes his belief in the separate existence of the Church and State. Having recognized the presence of two chief governmental elements in Europe, having accounted for their presence by the design of God to meet the requirements of man's dual nature, and having acknowledged that these two elements are wrongfully at constant war the one with the other, Dante proceeds to show that they are both from God for the good of man, but with functions distinct and different. Especially does he prove that the one in no way depends for its right to exist upon the other. The Papacy, he maintains, is a spiritual power, sovereign over the souls and the spiritual welfare of men, and the Empire is a temporal power, sovereign over the lives and bodily welfare of men. If Empire and Papacy exercised their authority in their own realms, the world would have no more war, than which there is nothing more to be desired in this world.

So much for the argument of this treatise, which has been called "the creed of Dante's Ghibellinism." This designation is only true in part, for, as Cacciaguida prophesies in the seventeenth canto of the Paradiso, "To thee it shall be honorable to have made thee a party by thyself." And Dante, though a Ghibelline, was not so in all details of his political creed. Much that this party did was beyond the pale of his sympathy, and he rebukes them harshly more than once in the Divine Comedy. Seeing that they have used the Imperial ensign and influence in contests where there was no question of Empire, he writes, "Let the Ghibellines work, let them work under another ensign, for he ever follows that amiss, who separates Justice and it." [3]

The names Guelf and Ghibelline stand for the two parties that in the name of Pope and Emperor fought so strenuously on the soil of Italy for political supremacy. On the one side, the highest power, the right of investiture, was claimed by the Emperor, who was the nominal leader of the Ghibellines; on the other, the Popes, since the eleventh century and the strengthening of Papal control under Gregory VII, had persistently claimed that right for the Church, and the Guelf party fought to establish this claim. But it must be borne in mind that in the Italy of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries these party names were often used on occasions and in disturbances where the principles for which they stood had no place, and where the purpose and end of the strife were purely selfish and personal.

In general, however, the tendencies of the two parties were clear enough. The Imperial power, looking back toward its greater day, remembering that the Roman Emperor had once been Pontifex Maximus, and that authority must stay with the few, and those by precedent the nobles of ancient name, arrogated to itself all power, and maintained in all contests the cause of the nobles against the commons, the claims of antique titles against those of new-won wealth. The Church, moved by the true democracy of Christianity, as well as by the selfish wish to keep her hand on the pulse of the nations, and to prevent a centralizing influence in northern Italy, maintained the cause of the municipalities, fostered the independence of the cities, discouraged unity of action and aim among them, and at times sought to release whole nations from allegiance to their king.

The clearest statement of the claims of the Church in the fourteenth century is found in the Unam Sanctam of Boniface VIII, published in 1392. Boniface put his theory into practice more than once, and sometimes with amazing success. It is said that, seated upon the throne of Constantine and arrayed in crown, sceptre, and sword, he announced himself to the throngs of pilgrims that flocked to Rome at the jubilee in 1300, as "Caesar and Emperor." He arbitrated difficulties between Edward of England and Philip of France, and finally declared the latter excommunicate and offered his throne to Albert of Hapsburg, then Emperor.

The Imperial rights are best enunciated in the De Monarchia, which, as we shall try to show, was written in all probability to help establish over Italy, independently of the Church, a rightful ruler in the temporal affairs of men, a ruler pictured as ideal in an ideal condition of society. The Golden Bull issued by Charles IV at Frankfort in 1356 takes up constitutional and legal points that our treatise never pauses to consider. We learn much, besides, of Imperial rights from the rulings of various Emperors. The career of such a man as Frederick II in the preceding century shows how much the Empire could demand and how much obtain under a powerful leader. That of Henry VII in the fourteenth shows that the time had gone by for Imperial dominion, and how much the Empire could ask and how little obtain even under the leadership of a great man.

So Dante's De Monarchia is Ghibelline, inasmuch as it denies to the Church supreme command in temporal things, and recognizes a universal Monarch in temporal affairs; but it is a purer Ghibellinism than that of the party at large, for he saw Church and State only as separate powers, viewed Pope and Emperor as equal in rank but as wielding authority in different realms; and under this twofold rule he prophesied, with enthusiasm his party could not share, that the human race would live in the calm and tranquillity of universal peace.

Turning from the treatise for a moment to a consideration of Dante himself, there is something of deep pathos in the thought that, from the solitude of an exile brought upon him by the warring of his countrymen, he should so continually and earnestly plead for peace -- that its blessings, now denied to him and to all the human race, might come upon the world. How far he traveled in search of "the best of those things ordained for our beatitude," we learn in another work. He declares to the spirits in Ante-Purgatory, "If aught that I can do pleases you, O spirits born to bliss, do ye say it, and I will do it for the sake of that peace which makes me, following the feet of a guide thus fashioned, seek it from world to world." [4] And though he could not bring peace to self-willed Italy, he found it for himself in unquestioning obedience to the will of God, and sang forth his triumph and joy in the immortal line, "In His will is our peace." It is not strange that a sympathetic and imaginative mind should have drawn the famous picture of the seeker of peace among the mountains, at the Monastery of Santa Croce del Corvo. Though Fra Ilario's apocryphal letter is so well known, I quote the description given therein: "Hither he came, passing through the diocese of Luni, moved either by the religion of the place, or by some other feeling. And seeing him, as yet unknown to me and to all my brethren, I questioned him of his wishings and his seekings there. He moved not; but stood silently contemplating the columns and arches of the cloister. And again I asked him what he wished, and whom he sought. Then, slowly turning his head, and 'looking at the friars and at me, he answered 'Peace.'"

The date of the De Monarchia is uncertain as far as historical evidence is concerned, and any attempt to establish unquestionably the time of its composition is met with insurmountable obstacles. To be sure, the earliest biographers of Dante mention the work, and Boccaccio gives some interesting notes of its history, but Boccaccio is also the only one of them who attempts to assign a period for its composition. He writes in his Life of Dante: [5] --

At the coming of Henry VII, this illustrious author wrote another book, in Latin prose, called the De Monarchia. This he divided into three books, in accordance with three questions which he settled therein.... This book, several years after the death of its author, was condemned by Cardinal Beltrando of Pog getto, papal legate in the parts of Lombardy, during the pontificate of John XXII. The reason of the condemnation was this. Louis, Duke of Bavaria, had been chosen King of the Romans by the electors of Germany, and came to Rome for his coronation, against the pleasure of the aforenamed Pope John. And while there, against ecclesiastical ordinances he created pope a minor friar called Brother Piero della Corvara, besides many cardinals and bishops; and had himself crowned there by this new Pontiff.

"Now inasmuch as his authority was questioned, in many cases, he and his followers, having found this book by Dante, began to make use of its arguments to defend themselves and their authority; whereby the book, which was scarcely known up to this time, became very famous. Afterwards, however, when Louis had returned to Germany, and his followers, especially the clergy, began to decline and disperse, the aforesaid Cardinal, since there was none to oppose him therein, seized the book and condemned it in public to the flames, charging that it contained heretical matters.

"In like manner he attempted to burn the bones of the author, and would have done so, to the eternal infamy and confusion of his own memory, had he not been opposed by a good and noble Florentine knight, by name Pino della Tosa. This man and Messer Ostagio da Polenta were great in the sight of the Cardinal, and happened to be in Bologna, where this matter was being mooted."

But if Boccaccio unhesitatingly names the occasion and approximate date of the De Monarchia, Lionardo Bruni (1368-1444), who wrote a biography of Dante somewhat later, dismisses the treatise with brief but unfavorable comment. "He also wrote in Latin prose and verse: in prose, a book entitled De Monarchia, written in unadorned fashion, with no beauty of style." We will not stop to contradict Bruni's criticism, but merely note that his statement has no chronological value.

Giovanni Villani, the first historian of Florence, gives a most appreciative but far too brief account of the poet in his Cronica: [6] "He also wrote the Monarchia" where he treats of the offices of popes and emperors." That is all the information Villani vouchsafes on our subject.

If we could believe Boccaccio implicitly, any further search for the date of the De Monarchia would be idle; but Boccaccio has proved himself untrustworthy in many instances, and in this case, whether his statement rests on his own assumption, whether he took it from current tradition, or whether he knew whereof he spoke, we shall never be able to prove absolutely. However, we can to some extent strengthen or weaken Boccaccio's claim to belief by internal evidence in the writing itself: Unfortunately, there is a singular absence of such evidence in the De Monarchia. This book stands unique among the works of Dante in its impersonal nature, whereas his writings generally are marked by their strongly autobiographic character. In it is no personal reference definite enough to indicate any certain time in the author's life; there is no unmistakable allusion to contemporary events; nor is there mention of any other of his own writings either finished or planned. Nevertheless, the fact that the book is in Latin and is of polemical nature, the parallelism of expression between this and other works, the confession of political experience in the first book, of changed political views in the second, and the indirect allusion to his own exile in the third, are clues which various scholars have followed up with zest, and from which they have arrived at three differing conclusions as to the time of its composition.

Some Dante students think the work was written previous to Dante's exile, January 27, 1302, most probably during his political life in Florence; others believe it to be a heralding or commemoration of the coming of Henry of Luxemburg to Italy, and would place it between 1308 and 1314; a third class consider it more probable that it is one of the last labors of the author, and assign it to some period between 13 18 and 1321.

Scartazzini has stated very clearly the points in favor of each of the three views, and commented on each in turn. [7] But before we review his line of argument, let us notice some of the more general facts of this internal evidence.

That the language of the De Monarchia is Latin puts it at once into comparison with the uncompleted Latin writing De Vulgari Eloquentia. But as the date of this second treatise is as uncertain as the first, it can in no way help us. The second treatise must have been in process of writing as late as 1308, while Villani and others date it 1321. Next, is there any marked change in opinion or power between this and Dante's other works, any differences that would betray immaturity of judgment, growth of insight, or even retrogression? No; as might be drawn from our generalizations at the beginning of this introduction, the content agrees in all essentials with the author's other writings. In the maturity of its religious faith; in the knowledge of classic and Hebrew authors; in the ideal civil polity outlined; in the concept of the universe and moral order; in the theory which makes cupidity the basic sin of mankind, and free will his most divine gift, this political document agrees with the Convito and the Divine Comedy. So much alike are they that, especially in the case of the Convito, the order of ideas is at times the same. The phraseology is in some places identical with that of Dante's three letters written during Henry's sojourn in Italy, those written To the Princes and Peoples of Italy, To the Florentines, and To Henry VII. [8]

Now for Scartazzini's opinion. He gives six reasons for the theory that the date was prior to the exile in 1302. (1) As in the Vita Nuova, some scholars see in the De Monarehia no allusion to Dante's banishment, in a failure to mention which it would differ from the Convito, the De Vulgari Eloquentia, and the Comedy. (2) The opening paragraph is too modest for Dante, unless at the beginning of his literary career. (3) The reference made in the first canto of the Inferno to Dante's beautiful style must have been to the De Monarchia. (4) If written subsequent to 1302, the treatise would certainly contain an allusion to the Unam Sanctam of that year. (5) The discussion of nobility [9] differs from that of the Convito, [10] while the view in the Convito accords with that expressed in the Paradiso. [11] (6) Were it not true that Dante's work was written before or very early in the fourteenth century, his assertion would be false that the subject of Monarchy had been treated by no one hitherto.

Scartazzini answers each of these objections: --

(1) In De Monarchia 3. 3. 12, Dante says of those who "boast themselves white sheep of the Master's flock," that "in order to carry out their crimes, these sons of iniquity defile their mother, banish their brethren, and scorn judgments brought against them." We can find no excuse for the bitterness of this statement unless the writing was after his exile, prompted by the sting of present pain.

(2) To boast of one's experience in public affairs, to undertake to enrich posterity from one's store of wisdom, as Dante does in the first paragraph to the De Monarchia, Scartazzini thinks can scarcely be called overwhelming modesty. Besides, the Convito and the De Vulgari Eloquentia were not brought to their present state of completion until the coming of Henry VII in 1311, and Dante's literary achievement would not be large until such time as these writings were known. This would allow the De Monarchia a date as late as this in which to have made its appearance, and yet precede them. But is it probable that both these works would fail to mention the De Monarchia, had it been completed prior to them? Besides, we must not forget that the author's change from Guelfism to Ghibellinism took place before this writing, as is evident from the first chapter of the second book. And though it is impossible to assert at what time such a change took place, it could not have been in the author's early years.

(3) The allusion to Dante's beautiful style in the first canto of the Inferno, and to the fame it had brought him, is doubtless not to the De Monarchia, but to the early and beautiful lyrics.

(4) The whole argument of the third book is virtually a reply to the Unam Sanctam, though that bull is not and could not well have been mentioned by name.

(5) As for the alleged contradiction in the treatment of the nature of nobility, it is evident that the writer's purpose was not the same in both contexts. In the De Monarchia he is speaking of nobility that gives the possessor power, which is surely a hereditary nobility. In the Convito he speaks of nobility of soul, which cannot be hereditary.

(6) Dante's declaration that no one else had treated of the subject of temporal Monarchy simply means that no one whose work was worthy his consideration had done so.

Scartazzini treats, secondly, of the theory that the De Monarchia was written between 1318 and 1321, pushing rapidly over the facts advanced in its support. Of first importance are the words found in so many of the manuscripts, [12] in the discussion of free will, "Sicut in Paradiso Comediae iam dixi." Were these words genuine, and not spurious as the best students of the texts affirm, we could be certain that the fifth canto of the Paradiso was composed before this prose work. The interesting fact that Dante's theory of the markings on the moon agrees with that of the Paradiso, [13] and not with that of the Convito, [14] is no indication that the later opinion was arrived at in the very last years of the author's life, but merely that it was later than that of the Convito. The last reason in favor of a very late composition is the similarity in diction and phrase with Can Grande's letter and various parts of the Paradiso. The similarity cannot be gainsaid, but even so the De Monarchia bears yet stronger likeness to the language of the letters To Henry VII, To the Florentines, and To the Princes and Peoples of Italy.

The third date suggested for the writing of the work under discussion is that of the coming of Henry VII to Italy as Emperor. And there is much in favor of this last belief: From the purely polemical nature of the De Monarchia it is apparent that it was brought into being by some urgent and present motive. But even as late as the Convito, Dante wrote hopelessly of the condition of the Empire and those "who sat in the saddle." He calls Frederick of Swabia "the last Emperor of the Romans, last, I say, as regards this present time, although Rudolph and Adolphus and Albert were elected after his death and from among his descendants." [15]

There was one time in Dante's life when a motive urgent and present existed, one time when he saw with perfect clearness that his dream of Universal Empire was about to be fulfilled, and in the intensity of his belief he spoke to the rulers of Italy words that glowed with ardor and intense faith: "Behold, now is the acceptable time in which the signs of consolation and peace arise, for a new day grows bright, revealing a dawn that lessens the gloom of long calamity.... Henceforth let thy heart be joyful, O Italy! who deserveth to be pitied even by the Saracens, but who straightway shalt be looked on with envy throughout the world, because thy bridegroom, the solace of the earth, and the glory of thy people, the most clement Henry, Divine, Augustus, and Caesar, hastens to the nuptials." [16] And this man whose way Dante, like another John the Baptist, prepared in Italy; whose feet he ran to kiss as a most humble subject; whose actions he forbore not to rebuke or praise in words a father might have used, was Henry of Luxemburg, elected after the death of Albert to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire. [17]

As we have said, the three letters written by Dante concerning this occasion are in their reasoning and phraseology remarkably like the De Monarchia. Especially is that To the Princes and Peoples of Italy like the second division of our treatise. Space cannot be given here for quoting such parallel passages, but they are indicated in due place in the notes to the translation.

We may add to this evidence drawn from immediate purpose and similarity of language Boccaccio's assertion to the effect that Henry's election inspired Dante to attempt to bring from its hiding-place the knowledge of temporal Monarchy, in order "to keep watch for the good of the world." In summing up the testimony for the probable date of the De Monarchia, we would say that the reasons for ascribing it to a time previous to 1302 are about as slight as those that place it at the end of the poet's life. Because it is so distinctly a work of occasion, because Boccaccio has pointed out that occasion, and no internal evidence can be found to disprove his statement, and, finally, because it is so akin to the letters of the occasion named, we ascribe it to those years when Henry's accession to the Imperial throne promised to bring mankind to the calm and tranquillity of universal peace.

And may we strengthen this conclusion by the witnessing of Dante's epitaph, which, though of minor import, should not be omitted? This epitaph was long thought to be of Dante's composition, but now is believed to have been the work of Bernardo Canaccio about 1353, and is interesting at this juncture merely for the fact that as first in the list of the poet's achievements is named "the rights of Monarchy."


Does it seem probable that if the De Monarchia were one of the first of Dante's productions,

1. Lowell has translated this: --

The rights of Monarchy, the Heavens, the Stream of Fire, the Pit,
In vision seen, I sang as far as to the fates seemed fit;
But since my soul, an alien here, hath flown to nobler wars,
And, happier now, hath gone to seek its Maker 'mid the stars,
Here am I, Dante, shut, exiled from the ancestral shore,
Whom Florence, the of all least-loving mother, bore.

ranking with the Vita Nuova in its youthfulness, it would have been coupled over his grave with his supreme achievement?

When we realize that the bud of Dante's hope was blighted, that his brave efforts depicted in the De Monarchia and the letters of the same period were utterly vain, we feel that a sorrow not to be borne had come to him who had known for so many years "how tastes of salt another's bread, and how it is a hard path to go down and up over another's stairs;" we feel that a final failure had crowned him whose life was outwardly all defeat, and inwardly all victory. Except in earnestness of purpose and courageousness of spirit, Henry in no particular fulfilled the prophecies of Dante. "Tumults and revolts broke out in Lombardy; at Rome the King of Naples held St. Peter's, and the coronation must take place in St. John Lateran, on the southern bank of the Tiber. The hostility of the Guelfic league, headed by the Florentines, Guelfs even against the Pope, obliged Henry to depart from his impartial and republican policy, and to purchase the aid of the Ghibelline chiefs by granting them the government of cities. With few troops and encompassed by enemies, the heroic Emperor sustained an unequal struggle for a year longer, till, in A. D. 1313, he sank beneath the fevers of the deadly Tuscan summer. His German followers believed, nor has history wholly rejected the tale, that poison was given him by a Dominican monk in sacramental wine. With Henry the Seventh ends the history of the Empire in Italy, and Dante's book is an epitaph instead of a prophecy." [19]

Yet when it was all over, with what splendid courage and unfaltering devotion Dante eulogizes the man in whom had died all promised political unity, and the hope of peace for blood-soaked Italy! The praise of the Emperor who had failed is spoken by Beatrice in the Empyrean heaven, where she and Dante, rising into the yellow of the everlasting rose, behold the host of those who sit in glory: "Look how great is the assembly of the white garments. Behold our city, how great is its circuit; behold there our stalls so full, that few folk hereafter are awaited. In that great seat on which thou hast thine eyes, by reason of the crown which already is placed over it, ere thou shalt sup at this wedding-feast, will sit the soul, which on earth shall be Imperial, of the high Henry who will come to set Italy straight before that she shall be ready." Dante believed with a more modern poet that, after all, "'t is not what man does which exalts him, but what man would do."

We conclude this inadequate consideration of the De Monarchia, its significance, content, history, and probable date of composition, by saying that if on perusal the subject of the De Monarchia seem antiquated and of small import, if many arguments adduced are based on unhistoric assumptions, if the style is marred by logical devices and bare syllogisms, nevertheless it will be found to contain ideals of life more perfect than man yet boasts of attaining except in dreams. Never has ideal civil polity been imaged forth in more simplicity and beauty, and never perhaps has one been more utterly impracticable. Yet in some of its principles, in the necessary disinterestedness of the supreme ruler in political matters, in the mutual independence of Church and State, in its strong advocacy of peace, it has rightly been compared to the United States under its President, and to the Netherlands under a supreme Stadtholder. To quote Mr. Dinsmore: [20] "His essential aspiration is that of many minds to-day, and we are beginning to see its realization. The code of international law is a source of universal order; the recent Peace Congress at the Hague, in establishing an international tribunal, took a long step toward extending the area of peace for which the soul of Dante longed; in America the Church is separated from the State, a precedent which is exerting a wide influence in Europe."

Besides, the De Monarchia is an indispensable part of the work of a man whose whole life was devoted to one end, and whose work was a unified expression of his great, unified life. It is a manifestation of that gift in Dante which Mr. Bryce so praised in Hildebrand; that gift whose manifestations the world cannot afford to lose, wherever they come into being; "that rarest and grandest of gifts, an intellectual courage and power of imagination in belief, which, when it has convinced itself of aught, accepts it fully with all its consequences."

Without the De Monarchia the threefold message of Dante would be incomplete; without the De Monarchia it would be far less true that for us as well as for Italy Dante is the thirteenth century.


Allen, Fragments of Latin Christianity: "The fond dream of universal sovereignty, its allied ideal Empire and Church, had its completed expression and defense in Dante's treatise on the Divine Right of Monarchy."

Bryce, Holy Roman Empire, chap. 15: "The career of Henry the Seventh in Italy is the most remarkable illustration of the Emperor's position: and imperialist doctrines are set forth most strikingly in the treatise which the greatest spirit of the age wrote to herald or commemorate the advent of that hero, the De Monarchia of Dante."

Church, Dante, p. 94: "The idea of the De Monarchia ... holds a place in the great scheme of the Commedia; it is prominent there also-- an idea seen but in fantastic shape, encumbered and confused with most grotesque imagery, but the real idea of polity and law, which the experience of modern Europe has attained to."

Hallam, Middle Ages, chap. 8, part 2: "Some who were actively engaged in these transactions took more extensive views, and assailed the whole edifice of temporal power which the Roman see had been constructing for more than two centuries. Several men of learning, among whom Dante, Ockham, and Marsilius of Padua are the most conspicuous, investigated the foundations of this superstructure, and exposed their insufficiency."

Milman, Latin Christianity, bk. 12, chap. 4: "The ideal sovereign of Dante's famous treatise on Monarchy was Henry of Luxemburg. Neither Dante nor his time can be understood but through this treatise."

Lowell, Dante, Riverside Edition, Vol. 4. p. 151: "It is to be looked on as a purely scholastic demonstration of a speculative thesis, in which the manifold exceptions and modifications essential in practical application are necessarily left aside."



1. Conv. 2. 4. 1.

2. De Mon. 1. 4.

3. Par. 6. 103.

4. Purg. 5. 61.

5. Earliest Lives of Dante, tr. James R. Smith, p. 69.

6. See lib. 9, cap. 136; tr. Napier's Florentine History, bk. I, ch. 16; also Dinsmore, Aids to the Study of Dante, p. 61.

7. Scartazzini, A Companion to Dante, pp. 318 ff.

8. Latham, Letters 5, 6, 7.

9. De Mon. 2. 3.

10. Conv. 4. 3.

11. Par. 16. i. ff.

12. De Mon. 1. 12. 3.

13. Par. 2. 58 ff.

14. Conv. 2. 14.

15. Conv. 4. 3. 3.

16. Letters 5. 2. 3.

17. Albert died May I, 1308. Henry was elected November 27, 1308; entered Italy, October, 1311; received the iron crown of the Lombards at Milan on Epiphany.

18. Dante's letter to him April 16, 1311; died at Buonconvento, August 24, 1313.

19. Bryce, chap. 15.

20. The Teachings of Dante, p. 56.
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1. ALL men on whom the Higher Nature [1] has stamped the love of truth should especially concern themselves in laboring for posterity, in order that future generations may be enriched by their efforts, as they themselves were made rich by the efforts of generations past. For that man who is imbued with public teachings, but cares not to contribute something to the public good, is far in arrears of his duty, let him be assured; he is, indeed, not "a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit in his season," [2] but rather a destructive whirlpool, always engulfing, and never giving back what it has devoured. Often meditating with myself upon these things, lest I should some day be found guilty of the charge of the buried talent, [3] I desire for the public weal, not only to burgeon, but to bear fruit, [4] and to establish truths unattempted by others. For he who should demonstrate again a theorem of Euclid, who should attempt after Aristotle to set forth anew the nature of happiness, who should undertake after Cicero to defend old age a second time -- what fruit would such a one yield? None, forsooth; his tedious superfluousness would merely occasion disgust.

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



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

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

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

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

2. Ps. 1. 3.

3. Matt. 25. 25.

4. Num. 17. 8.

5. I Cor. 9. 24; cf. Phil. 3. 14.

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

Conv. 3.7.2: “The Primal Goodness sendeth His bounties unto all things in an affluence.”
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CHAPTER II: To what end does government exist among all men?

1. First, we must ascertain what temporal Monarchy is in its idea, as I may say, and in its purpose. Temporal Monarchy, called also the Empire, we define as a single Principality extending over all peoples in time, or in those things and over those things which are measured by time. [1] Concerning it three main questions arise. First, we may ask and seek to prove whether it is necessary for the well-being of the world; secondly, whether the Roman people rightfully appropriated the office of Monarchy; and thirdly, whether the authority of Monarchy derives from God directly, or from another, a minister or vicar of God.

2.. But as every truth which is not a first principle is manifested by the truth of some first principle, it is necessary in every investigation to know the first principle to which we may return, in analysis, for the proof of all propositions which are subsequently assumed. And as the present treatise is an investigation, we must before all else search out a basic principle, on the validity of which will depend whatever follows. [2] Be it known, therefore, that certain things exist which are not at all subject to our control, and which we can merely speculate upon, but cannot cause to be or to do: such are mathematics, physics, and divinity. On the other hand, certain things exist which are subject to our control, and which are matter not only for speculation, but for execution. [3] In these things the action is not performed for the sake of the speculation, but the latter for the sake of the former, because in them action is the end. Since the matter under consideration is governmental, [4] nay, is the very source and first principle of right governments, and since everything governmental is subject to our control, it is clear that our present theme is primarily adapted for action rather than for speculation. Again, since the first principle and cause of all actions is their ultimate end, [5] and since the ultimate end first puts the agent in motion, it follows that the entire procedure of the means toward an end must derive from the end itself. For the manner of cutting wood to build a house will be other than that of cutting wood to build a ship. So if there exists an end for universal government among men, that end will be the basic principle through which all things to be proved hereafter may be demonstrated satisfactorily. But to believe that there is an end for this government and for that government, and that there is no single end common to all, would indeed be irrational.



1. Conv. 4. 4. 1: "Wherefore, in order to put an end to these wars and their causes, the whole earth should be under a monarchy, that is, should be a single principality under one prince, who, possessing everything, and therefore incapable of further desire, would keep the kings content within the limits of their kingdoms, so that peace should abide among them."

2. Each book of the De Mon. is likewise founded on the rock of a basic principle. See 2. 2; 3. 2.

Conv. 4. 15. 7: "The third infirmity in the minds of men is caused by levity of nature; for many have so light a fancy, that they fly from one thing to another in their reasoning, and before they have finished their syllogism have formed a conclusion, and from that conclusion have flown to another, and think they are arguing most subtly, while they have no principle to start from, and see nothing in their imagination that is really there."

Par. 2. 124: "Regard me well, how I am going through this topic to the truth thou desirest."

3. Conv. 4.8.2: “There are things which it [the reason] only considers and does not originate, … such as natural and supernatural things, i.e. laws and mathematics; and actions which it considers and performs by its own proper act, which are called rational, such as the arts of speech; and actions which it considers and executes in material outside of itself; as in the mechanical arts.”

4. “The word politia may be used either for a general form of government, such as monarchy or democracy; or for a concrete organ of government, such as some specific monarchy; or for some function of government as exercised by such an organ, i.e. the actual governing done by the monarch; or for the ideal goal and purpose of government, i.e. the right ordering of a state.” Wicksteed. It has seemed best to translate this oft-recurring word in its various forms by “government,” “governmental,” etc.

5. The identification of cause and end, or effect, is complete in Letter 11.33: “When the Source or First, which is God, hath been found, there is nothing to be sought beyond (since He is the Alpha and Omega, which is the Beginning and the End).” See note 1, De Mon. 1. 13. For this notion of cause and effect see also Arist. Metaphys. 1, and De Causis.
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CHAPTER III: To actualize the whole capacity of the possible intellect in speculation and action.

1. We must now determine what is the end of human society as a whole, and having determined that, we shall have accomplished more than half of our labor, according to the Philosopher in his writings to Nicomachus. [1] In order to discern the point in question more clearly, observe that as Nature fashions the thumb for one purpose, the whole hand for another, then the arm for a purpose differing from both, and the entire man for one differing from all, so she creates for one end the individual, for another the family, for another the village, for still another end the city, for another the kingdom, and finally for an ultimate end, by means of His art which is Nature, the Eternal God brings into being the human race in its totality. And this last is what we are in search of as the directive first principle of our investigation.

2. In beginning, then, let it be recognized that God and Nature make nothing in vain; but that whatever comes into being comes with a definite function. For, according to the intention of the creator, as creator, the ultimate end of a created being is not the being itself but its proper function. [3] Wherefore a proper function exists not for the sake of the being, but contrariwise. There is, then, some distinct function for which humanity as a whole is ordained, a function which neither an individual nor a household, neither a village, nor a city, nor a particular kingdom, has power to perform. [4] What this function is will be evident if we point out the distinctive capacity of humanity as a whole. I say, therefore, that no faculty shared by many things diverse in species is the differentiating characteristic of any one of them. For since the differentiating characteristic determines species, it would follow that one essence would be specific to many species, which is impossible. So the differentiating characteristic in man is not simple existence, for that is shared by the elements; [5] nor existence in combination, for that is met with in minerals; [6] nor existence animate, for that is found in plants; [7] nor existence intelligent, for that is participated in by the brutes; [8] but the characteristic competent to man alone, and to none other above or below him, is existence intelligent through the possible intellect. [9] Although other beings possess intellect, it is not intellect distinguished by potentiality, as is man's. Such beings are intelligent species in a limited sense, and their existence is no other than the uninterrupted act of understanding; [10] they would otherwise not be eternal. It is evident, therefore, that the differentiating characteristic of humanity is a distinctive capacity or power of intellect.

3. And since this capacity as a whole cannot be reduced to action at one time through one man, or through any one of the societies discriminated above, multiplicity is necessary in the human race in order to actualize its capacity in entirety. Likewise multiplicity is necessary in creatable things in order to exercise continually the capacity of primal matter. Were it not so, we should be granting the existence of unactualized potentiality, which is impossible. With this belief Averroes [11] accords in his commentary on the treatise concerning the Soul. [12] Further, the intellectual capacity of which I speak has reference not only to universal forms or species, but, by a sort of extension, to particular ones. Wherefore it is a common saying that the speculative intellect becomes by extension the practical, whose end is to do and to make. I speak of things to be done, which are controlled by political sagacity, and things to be made, which are controlled by art, [13] because they are all handmaids of speculation, that supreme end for which the Primal Good brought into being the human race. [14] From this now grows clear the saying in the Politics that "the vigorous in intellect naturally govern other men." [15]



1. Eth. 1. 7. 21: "For the principle seems to be more than half the whole." Dante almost without exception refers to Aristotle as "the Philosopher." In Conv. 3. 5. 5 he is "That glorious Philosopher to whom Nature has most completely revealed her secrets;" "The master of human reason," Conv. 4. 2. 7; "That master of philosophers," Conv. 4. 8. 5; "The master of those who know," Inf. 4. 131. For Dante's relation to Aristotle see Moore, Studies in Dante, Vol. 1. pp. 92-156. For the translations of Aristotle which be used, l. c. pp. 305-318. Throughout the De Mon, the Ethics are called "the writings to Nicomachus," a title given them because they had been addressed by the philosopher to his son of that name.

2. De Caelo 1. 4. Dante uses a singular verb with two coordinate subjects, thus, "Deus et natura facit." So infra, 1. 11. 1.

3. Conv. 3. 15. 4: "Nature would have made it in vain, because it would have been created without any end."

Par. 8. 97: "The Good which sets in revolution and contents all the realm thou art scaling makes its foresight to be virtue in these great bodies. And not only the natures are foreseen in this mind which is of itself perfect, but they together with their preservation. Wherefore whatsoever this bow discharges falls disposed to a foreseen end, just as a thing aimed right upon its mark. If this were not so, the heaven where thou journeyest would so produce its effects that they would not be an artist's works, but ruins. And this cannot be, if the intellects which move these stars are not maimed and maimed the First, in that He has not perfected them.... I see it is impossible for nature, in that which is necessary, to fail."

Cf, De Mon. 2. 7. 1; 3. 15. 1; 1. 10. 1.

4. Pol. 1. 2. 5-8.

Conv. 4. 4. 1: "The radical foundation of imperial majesty according to the truth is the necessity of human society, which is ordained to one end, that is a happy life; to which no one is capable of attaining without the aid of others, because man has many needs, which one person alone is unable to satisfy.”

5. Conv. 3. 3. 1: “Simple bodies, the elements, have a natural love for their own place; wherefore earth always falls toward the centre, and fire is drawn toward the circumference above.”

6. Conv. 3. 3. 2: “The primary composed bodies, such as minerals.” Cf. Par. 7. 124: “I see the air, and I see the fire, the earth, and the water and all their combinations come to destruction and endure but a little.”

7. Conv. 3. 3. 3: “Plants, which are the first of animate things.”

8. Conv. 3. 2. 3: “The sensitive soul is found without the rational, as in beasts and birds and fishes.”

9. For the origin of the idea see De Anima 3; Metaphys. 12; Ethics 1. 7. 12: "The work of man is an energy of soul according to reason. Man's chief good is an energy of soul according to virtue." For the mediaeval explanation, S. T. 1. 154. 4, and 1. 79. 1, 2, 10.

"Intellectus possibilis" or "passibilis," and "intellectus agens," that is, the passive, apprehending intellect, and the active intelligence, are the two intellects of man. Cf. De Mon. 1. 16. The emphasis here is on the fact that at no given time is the potentiality of man's intellect realized.

10. Dante discusses the hierarchies, Conv. 2. 5, 6, and Par. 28, 29. Cf: S.T. 1. 54-59. Conv. 2. 5. 1: "These are substances separate from matter, that is intelligences, whom the common people call angels;" 1.c. 2. 5. 3: "Their intellect is one and perpetual;" 4. 19. 2: "Human nobility, as far as the variety of its fruits is considered, excels that of the angels, although the angelic may be more divine in its unity." That is, while the angelic nature is an uninterrupted realization of the knowledge of which each order of these beings is capable, man always approximates through a variety of ways to the knowledge that is his heritage.

Par. 29. 70: "But whereas on earth through your schools it is taught that the angelic nature is such as understands and remembers and wills,... the truth is there below confused." Dante's actus or formus is typified in angelic natures, his materia or potentia in matter, while both form and matter are found in created things.

11. Averroes was an Arabian philosopher of the twelfth century, and author of the famous commentary upon Aristotle here alluded to. He is mentioned in Conv. 4. 13. 3, and placed among the great thinkers in Limbo, Inf. 4. 144.

12. "Ad libr. tertium Ed. Venet.1552, p. 164." Witte.

13. Metaphys 1. 1: "An art comes into being when, out of many conceptions of experience, one universal opinion is evolved with respect to similar cases."

14. Conv. 3. 15. 2: "In this gaze or contemplation alone is human perfection to be gained, that is, the perfection of the reason, on which, as on its most important part, all our being depends; and all our other actions, feelings, nourishment -- all exist for it alone, and it exists for itself and not for others." L. c. 4. 4. 1: "Peace should abide among them, ... which done, man lives happily, for which end he was born." L. c. 4. 17. 16: "We must know that we can have two kinds of happiness in this life, according to two different ways, one good, one best, which lead us thereto; one is the active life, and the other the contemplative." L. c. 4. 22. 5-19: "The use of the mind is double, that is, practical and speculative, and both are delightful; although that of contemplation is most so.... Its practical use is to act through us virtuously, that is, righteously by temperance, fortitude, and justice; the speculative is not to operate actively in us, but to consider the works of God and of nature; and the one and the other make up our beatitude and supreme happiness."

Purg. 27. 93, Dante dreams of Leah and Rachael, who typify the contemplative and active life; "to see satisfies her, but me to work."

Purg. 28 realizes the dream of the active life in the person of Matilda, and Purg. 30 that of the contemplative in the person of Beatrice. It is for abandoning the contemplative life, and “following false images of good," that Beatrice reproves Dante, Purg. 30. 131.

15. Pol. 1. 2. 2: "By nature too some beings command, and others obey, for the sake of mutual safety; for a being endowed with discernment and forethought is by nature the superior and governor."
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Postby admin » Sun Sep 20, 2015 8:42 am

CHAPTER IV: To attain this end humanity requires universal peace.

1. It has now been satisfactorily explained that the proper function of the human race, taken in the aggregate, is to actualize continually the entire capacity of the possible intellect, primarily in speculation, then, through its extension and for its sake, secondarily in action. And since it is true that whatever modifies a part modifies the whole, and that the individual man seated [1] in quiet grows perfect in knowledge and wisdom, [2] it is plain that amid the calm and tranquillity of peace the human race accomplishes most freely and easily its given work. How nearly divine this function is revealed in the words, "Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels." [3] When it is manifest that universal peace is the best of those things which are ordained for our beatitude. And hence to the shepherds sounded from on high the message not of riches, nor pleasures, nor honors, nor length of life, nor health, nor beauty; but the message of peace. For the heavenly host said, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased." [4] Likewise, "Peace be unto you" [5] was the salutation of the Saviour of men. It befitted the supreme Saviour to utter the supreme salutation. It is evident to all that the disciples desired to preserve this custom; and Paul likewise in his words of greeting. [6]

2. From these things which have been expounded we perceive through what better, nay, through what best means the human race may fulfill its proper office. Consequently we perceive the nearest way through which may be reached that universal peace toward which all our efforts are directed as their ultimate end, and which is to be assumed as the basic principle of subsequent reasoning. This principle was necessary, we have said, as a predetermined formula, into which, as into a most manifest truth, must be resolved all things needing to be proved. [7]



1. Sedendo et quiescendo." Dante often used the figure of the seated person to portray the life of contemplation.

S. T. 2-2. 182. 2: " Contemplative life consists in a certain stillness and rest according to the text, 'Be still, and know that I am God,'" Ps. 46. 10. Also S. T. 1- . 3. 4, 5.

Conv. 4. 17. 16: "And Mary ... sitting at the feet of Christ, took no heed to the service of the house ….. For if we explain this morally, our Lord wished thereby to show us that the contemplative life is the best, although the active life is good.” L.c. 1. 1. 4: “Blessed are the few that are seated at the table where the bread of the angels is eaten.”

Purg. 27. 105: “My sister Rachel never is drawn from her mirror, and sits all day."

2. Eccles. 38. 25 (Vulg.): “The wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure; and he that hath little business shall become wise."

3. Ps. 8. 6; cf: Heb. 2. 7. Quoted Conv. 4. 19. 3.

4. Luke 2. 14.

5. Luke 24. 36; John 20. 21, 26.

6. Rom. 1. 7.

7. Some of Dante's most eloquent exhortations in prose and some of the most perfect music of his verse are touching that peace which he knew should make man happy on earth and blessed in heaven, that peace which he went to seek "from world to world," and which he found at last in complete obedience to the will of God.

Purg. 3. 74: Virgil conjures the spirits "By that peace which I think is awaited by you all."

Purg. 5. 61: Dante here tells of "that peace, which makes me, following the feet of a guide thus fashioned, seek it from world to world."

Purg. 10. 34: "The angel that came on earth with the decree of the many years wept-for peace .... opened Heaven from its long interdict."

Purg. 11. 7: "Let the peace of thy kingdom come to us."

Purg. 21. 23: "My brethren, God give you peace," is the greeting of Statius.

Purg. 28. 91: "The highest Good, which does only its own pleasure, made the man good and for good, and gave him this place for an earnest to him of eternal peace."

Purg. 30. 7: "That truthful folk ... turned them to the car as to their peace."

Par. 2. 112: "Within the heaven of the divine peace revolves a body in whose virtue lies the being of all that is contained in it."

Par. 3. 85: "In His will is our peace."

Par. 27. 8: "A life complete of joy and peace."

Par. 30. 100: "Light is there on high, which makes visible the Creator to that creation which only in seeing Him has its peace."

Par. 31. 110 : St. Bernard "in this world by contemplation tasted of that peace."

Par. 33. 1: "Virgin Mother ... in thy womb was rekindled the Love, through whose warmth in the eternal peace this flower has thus sprung."
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Postby admin » Sun Sep 20, 2015 8:42 am

CHAPTER V: When several things are ordained for one end, one must rule and the others obey.

1. Resuming what was said in the beginning, I repeat, there are three main questions asked and debated in regard to temporal Monarchy, which is more commonly termed the Empire, and it is my purpose to make inquiry concerning these in the order cited, according to the principle now enunciated. And so let the first question be whether temporal Monarchy is necessary for the well-being of the world. The necessity of temporal Monarchy can be gainsaid with no force of reason or authority, and can be proved by the most powerful and patent arguments, of which the first is taken on the testimony of the Philosopher in the Politics. There this venerable authority asserts that when several things are ordained for one end, one of them must regulate or rule, and the others submit to regulation or rule. [1] This, indeed, not only because of the author's glorious name, but because of inductive reasoning, demands credence. [2]

2. If we consider the individual man, we shall see that this applies to him, for, when all his faculties are ordered for his happiness, the intellectual faculty itself is regulator and ruler of all others; in no way else can man attain to happiness. If we consider the household, whose end is to teach its members to live rightly, there is need for one called the pater-familias, or for some one holding his place, to direct and govern, according to the Philosopher when he says, "Every household is ruled by its eldest." [3] It is for him, as Homer says, to guide and make laws for those dwelling with him. From this arises the proverbial curse, "May you have an equal in your house." [4] If we consider the village, whose aim is adequate protection of persons and property, there is again needed for governing the rest either one chosen for them by another, or one risen to preeminence from among themselves by their consent; otherwise, they not only obtain no mutual support, but sometimes the whole community is destroyed by many striving for first place. Again, if we consider the city, whose end is to insure comfort and sufficiency in life, there is need for undivided rule in rightly directed governments, and in those wrongly directed [5] as well; else the end of civil life is missed, and the city ceases to be what it was. Finally, if we consider the individual kingdom, whose end is that of the city with greater promise of tranquillity, there must be one king to direct and govern. If not, not only the inhabitants of the kingdom fail of their end, bit the kingdom lapses into ruin, in agreement with that word of infallible truth, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation." [6] If, then, this is true of these instances, and of all things ordained for a single end, [7] it is true of the statement assumed above.

3. We are now agreed that the whole human race is ordered for one end, as already shown. It is meet, therefore, that the leader and lord be one, and that he be called Monarch, or Emperor. Thus it becomes obvious that for the well-being of the world there is needed a Monarchy, or Empire.



1. Pol. 1. 5. 3: "Whatsoever is composed of many parts, which together make up one whole, ... shows the marks of some one thing governing and another thing governed."

Conv. 4. 4. 2: "And with these reasons we may compare the words of the Philosopher, when he says in the Politics that when many things are ordained for one purpose, one of them should be governor or ruler, and all others should be governed or ruled."

2. For Dante's idea of the deference due to authority, philosophical and imperial, see Conv. 4. 8. 9.

3. Pol. 1. 2. 6.

4. Homer, Od. 9. 114, quoted by Arist. Pol. 1. 2. 6.

5. "Politia obliqua."

6. Luke 11. 17.

7. Conv. 4. 4. 2: " Even as we see a ship, where her divers duties and their divers purposes are ordained for one end, that is, to bring her by a safe course to the desired haven, where, as each officer performs his own duty with regard to the proper end, so there is one person who considers all these, and adapts them all to the final end, and this one is the pilot whose voice all must obey. And this we see in religious bodies, and in armies, and in all things, which, as we have said, are ordained for some one purpose."
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Postby admin » Sun Sep 20, 2015 8:43 am

CHAPTER VI: The order which is found in the parts of the human race should be found in the race as a whole.

1. As the part is related to the whole, [1] so is the partial order related to the total order. The relation of the part to the whole is as to its end and supreme good, and so the relation of the partial order to the total order is as to its end and supreme good. [2] We see from this that the excellence of partial order does not exceed the excellence of total order, but rather the converse. A dual order is therefore discernible in the world, namely, the order of parts among themselves, and the order of parts with reference to a third entity which is not a part. For example, in the army there is an order among its divisions, and an order of the whole with reference to the general. The order of the parts with reference to the third entity is superior, for partial order has its end in total order, and exists for the latter's sake. Wherefore, if the form of the order is discernible in the parts of the human aggregate, it should, by virtue of the previous syllogism, be much more discernible in the aggregate or totality, because total order or form of order is superior. Now, as is sufficiently manifest from what was said in the preceding chapter, it is discernible in all the units of the human race, and therefore must be or ought to be discernible in the totality itself. And so all parts which we have designated as included in kingdoms, and kingdoms themselves, should be ordered with reference to one Prince or Principality, that is, to one Monarch or Monarchy. [3]



1. Conv. 4. 29. 5: "Every whole is made up of its parts, ... and what is said of a part, in the same way may be said of a whole."

2. Par. 1. 103: "All things whatsoever have an order among themselves; and this is form, which makes the universe in the likeness of God. Here the created beings on high see the traces of eternal goodness, which is the end whereunto the rule aforesaid has been made."

Par. 10. 3: "The first and unspeakable Goodness made all that revolves in mind or in place with such order that he who observes this cannot be without tasting of Him."

Par. 29. 31: "Order and structure were concrete in the substances."

Cf: De Mon. 2. 7. 1, and note 3.

S. T. 1. 47. 3: "Ipse ordo in rebus sic a Deo creatis existens unitatem mundi manifestat. Mundus enim iste unus dicitur unitate ordinis, secundum quod quaedam ad alia ordinantur. Quaecumque autem sunt a Deo, ordinem habent ad invicem et ad ipsum Deum."

3. Conv. 4. 4. 1: "The whole earth mould be under one prince, who ... would keep the kings content within the limits of their kingdoms, so that peace should abide among them. wherein the cities should repose, and in this repose the neighbors should love one another, and in this love the families should supply all their wants; which done, man lives happily; for which end he was born."

Conv. 4. 4. 2: "And this office, for reason of its excellence, is called Empire, without any qualification, because it is the government of all governments. And so he who holds the office is called emperor, because he is a law to all and must be obeyed by all, and all others take their force and authority from him.. And thus it is evident that the imperial majesty and authority is the highest in human society."
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Postby admin » Sun Sep 20, 2015 8:43 am

CHAPTER VII: The relation of kingdoms and nations to the monarch should be that of humanity to God.

1. Further, mankind is a whole with relation to certain parts, and is a part with relation to a certain whole. It is a whole, of course, with relation to particular kingdoms and nations, as was shown above, and it is a part with relation to the whole universe, as is self-evident. Therefore, in the manner in which the constituent parts of collective humanity correspond to humanity as a whole, so, we say, collective humanity corresponds as a part to its larger whole. That the constituent parts of collective humanity correspond to humanity as a whole through the one only principle of submission to a single Prince, can be easily gathered from what has gone before. And therefore humanity corresponds to the universe itself, or to its Prince, who is God and Monarch, [1] simply through one only principle, namely, the submission to a single Prince. We conclude from this that Monarchy is necessary to the world for its well-being.



1. Dante applies to the Deity the names denoting governmental supremacy, not only in the De Mon. but elsewhere. See Conv. 2. 6. 1; 2. 16. 6; "Imperadore dell' universo;" also Emperor, Inf. 1. 124; Par. 12. 40, etc.; De Mon. 3. 16. 1.
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