God has been truly gracious to the believers in sending them a Messenger from among their own, to recite His revelations to them, to make them grow in purity, and to teach them the Scripture and wisdom—before that they were clearly astray. Why do you [believers] say, when a calamity befalls you, even after you have inflicted twice as much damage [on your enemy], 'How did this happen?'? [Prophet], say, 'You brought it upon yourselves.' God has power over everything: what befell you on the day the two armies met in battle happened with God's permission and in order for Him to see who were the true believers and who were the hypocrites who, when it was said to them, 'Come, fight for God's cause, or at least defend yourselves,' answered, 'We would follow you if we knew there was going to be fighting.' On that day they were closer to disbelief than belief. They say with their tongues what is not in their hearts: God knows exactly what they conceal. As for those who stayed behind, and said of their brothers, 'If only they had listened to us, they would not have been killed,' tell them [Prophet], 'Ward off death from yourselves, if what you say is true.' [Prophet], do not think of those who have been killed in God's way as dead. They are alive with their Lord, well provided for, happy with what God has given them of His favour; rejoicing that for those they have left behind who have yet to join them there is no fear, nor will they grieve; [rejoicing] in God’s blessing and favour, and that God will not let the reward of the believers be lost. Those who responded to God and the Messenger after suffering defeat, who do good and remain conscious of God, will have a great reward. Those whose faith only increased when people said, 'Fear your enemy: they have amassed a great army against you,' and who replied, 'God is enough for us: He is the best protector,' returned with grace and bounty from God; no harm befell them. They pursued God's good pleasure. God's favour is great indeed. It is Satan who urges you to fear his followers; do not fear them, but fear Me, if you are true believers.
While I was still in fear from my lost sight,
The splendid flame which had extinguished it
Breathed some advice that kept me rapt. “You might,
Until your eyes recover from the fit
Induced by seeing me, find recompense
With speech. To start with, tell me of the aim
Your soul is set on. Be assured your sense
Of sight is just confused. That’s not the same
As being ruined: for your lady, who
Guides you through Paradise, has in her look
The power of the hand the Lord sent to
The stricken Saul. One touch was all it took:
The hand of Ananias.” I then: “May
Healing come soon or late as pleases her
Who brings it to the doors that were the way
She entered with the fire. And those doors were
My eyes: the fire, the one with which I burn
Always.” The voice that saved me from my fear
Of sudden dazzle now spoke in its turn,
Thus prompting me to greet what I could hear
With further speech. “It’s certain that you must
Sift with a finer sieve and say who trained
Your bow to this mark.” I said: “Here I trust
The philosophic arguments ingrained
In me on Earth, and the authority
Sent down from here. It’s fitting that such love
Should leave its imprint sharply edged on me,
Since good, just by the goodness it’s made of,
Must kindle love as soon as it is known,
And all the more the more good it contains.
Towards that Essence, then, in which alone
Such irresistible advantage reigns,
That any good outside is just a glow
Spilled by its radiance, the mind is moved—
Solely by love, and nothing else we know—
Of anyone who sees the truth is proved
On which this logic rests. This argument
Was set forth beyond all doubt, to my mind,
By Aristotle. That was his intent
When he said that the heavens— where we find,
Of course, the angels of intelligence—
Were moved by primal love, or the First Cause,
To use his term. Just so, in congruence,
The truthful Author, God, who gave the laws
To Moses, spoke when of Himself He said
‘I’ll make you see all goodness.’ And you, too,
Told me the same when, in your book, I read—
It’s there in Chapter One— of what was true
From when the world was new: that it began
As one Word. A sublime announcement! More
Than any other forecast known to man
It told the world below what lay in store
Above: the holy mystery of this place.”
The reason why that grief had penetrated me so easily and deeply was that I had poured out my soul on to the sand by loving a person sure to die as if he would never die. The greatest source of repair and restoration was the solace of other friends, with whom I loved what I loved as a substitute for you; and this was a vast myth and a long lie. By its adulterous caress, my mind which had ‘itching ears’ (2 Tim. 4: 3– 4) was corrupted. But this fable did not die for me when one of my friends died. There were other things which occupied my mind in the company of my friends: to make conversation, to share a joke, to perform mutual acts of kindness, to read together well-written books, to share in trifling and in serious matters, to disagree though without animosity—just as a person debates with himself—and in the very rarity of disagreement to find the salt of normal harmony, to teach each other something or to learn from one another, to long with impatience for those absent, to welcome them with gladness on their arrival. These and other signs come from the heart of those who love and are loved and are expressed through the mouth, through the tongue, through the eyes, and a thousand gestures of delight, acting as fuel to set our minds on fire and out of many to forge unity. This is what we love in friends. We love to the point that the human conscience feels guilty if we do not love the person who is loving us, and if that love is not returned—without demanding any physical response other than the marks of affectionate good will. Hence the mourning if a friend dies, the darkness of grief, and as the sweetness is turned into bitterness the heart is flooded with tears. The lost life of those who die becomes the death of those still living. ‘Happy is the person who loves you’ (Tobit 13: 18) and his friend in you, and his enemy because of you (Matt. 5: 44).
Of course, those first elements of the language were better, because more fundamental. On that foundation I came to acquire the faculty which I had and still possess of being able to read whatever I find written, and to write myself whatever I wish. This was better than the poetry I was later forced to learn about the wanderings of some legendary fellow named Aeneas (forgetful of my own wanderings) and to weep over the death of a Dido who took her own life from love. In reading this, O God my life, I myself was meanwhile dying by my alienation from you, and my miserable condition in that respect brought no tear to my eyes. What is more pitiable than a wretch without pity for himself who weeps over the death of Dido dying for love of Aeneas, but not weeping over himself dying for his lack of love for you, my God, light of my heart, bread of the inner mouth of my soul, the power which begets life in my mind and in the innermost recesses of my thinking. I had no love for you and ‘committed fornication against you’ (Ps. 72: 27); and in my fornications I heard all round me the cries ‘Well done, well done’ (Ps. 34: 21; 39: 16). ‘For the friendship of this world is. fornication against you’ (Jas. 4: 4), and ‘Well done’ is what they say to shame a man who does not go along with them. Over this I wept not a tear. I wept over Dido who ‘died in pursuing her ultimate end with a sword’. I abandoned you to pursue the lowest things of your creation. I was dust going to dust.
“Just as was said above, during the time in which Dido, queen of Carthage, was living happily in her city and ruling gloriously in peace, it happened by chance that Aeneas, fugitive from Troy following its destruction, leader and captain of many Trojans, tossed about by many storms, his ships wrecked and provisions exhausted, having lost many of his men, in need of rest, out of money, weary of wandering at sea, and in need of shelter, arrived in the port of Carthage. And when, out of fear of inadvertently landing without permission, he sent to the queen to know whether it would please her that he come into port, the noble lady, full of honor and valiance and well aware that the Trojans enjoyed a better reputation than any other nation of the world at that time and that Aeneas was of the royal house of Troy, not only gave him leave to land but also went out with a most noble company of barons and ladies and maidens to the shore to meet him and there received him and his entire company with the greatest honor. She brought him into her city and honored and feasted him and put him at ease. Why should I give you a long account? Aeneas was able to rest so long there that he hardly recalled the torments he had suffered. Dido and Aeneas spent so much time with one another that Love, who knows how to subjugate all hearts with the greatest of skill, made them become enamored of one another. But as experience showed, Dido’s love for Aeneas was far greater than his love for her, for even though he had given her his pledge never to take any other woman and to be hers forever, he left after she had restored and enriched him with property and ease, his ships refreshed, repaired, and placed in order, filled with treasure and wealth, like a woman who had spared no expense where her heart was involved. He departed at night, secretly and treacherously, without farewells and without her knowledge. This was how he repaid his hostess. His departure caused so much grief for the unhappy Dido, who had loved too much, that she wished to renounce all joy and her own life. Indeed, after lamenting a great deal, she threw herself into a large fire which she had lit. Others say she killed herself with Aeneas’ own sword. And so the noble queen Dido died in such a pitiful manner, who has been honored so greatly that her fame has surpassed that of all other women of her time.”
‘But you do know, I take it, the source from which all things have come?’
‘Yes,’ I answered, ‘God is the source.’
‘So how can it be that you know the beginning of things, and not their goal? However, these emotional upheavals to which you are prone are powerful enough to unbalance a person, but they cannot undermine and utterly uproot him. Now please tell me this as well: Do you remember that you are a man?’
‘Of course I remember!’ I replied.
‘So can you define what a man is?’
‘Are you asking if I am aware that I am a mortal creature endowed with reason? Yes, I know that, and I proclaim it.’
‘But are you aware of being anything more?’ she asked.
‘No, nothing more.’
‘Now I know’, she said, ‘the further cause of your sickness, and it is a very serious one. You have forgotten your own identity. So I have now fully elicited the cause of your illness, and the means of recovering your health. Forgetting who you are has made you confused, and this is why you are upset at being both exiled and stripped of your possessions. Then, since you are unaware of the goal to which creation proceeds, you imagine that wicked and unprincipled individuals are powerful and blessed. Moreover, since you have forgotten the reins that control the world, you believe that the changes of fortune which have befallen you are random and unguided. These are serious symptoms, which bring on not only sickness, but also death. But thanks be to the source of health, for nature has not wholly forsaken you; your true conviction of the government of the world provides us with the nourishment to restore you to health, for you believe that the universe is guided by divine reason, and is not subject to random chance. So have no fear; this tiniest of sparks will cause life’s heat to be resuscitated in you.
And he: “The love of good is here restored,
That fell short of its duty. With a will
The oar is plied anew that had grown bored
And trifled with the water. To fulfil
Your hope more quickly of an easy mind,
Turn it to me, and you will benefit
From this delay. My son, as you will find
Deep in your knowledge and informing it,
Neither Creator, no, nor any kind
Of creature was there ever without
Love, If of the mind, or natural. It may not,
The natural, err, and ranks above
The other in that aspect. Minds have got
Two ways to err in love: the wrong object,
Or else the vigour with which love’s pursued—
There might be excess, there might be defect.
Directed at the primal good, imbued
With no more than a rational respect
Toward the second thing, the world, it won’t
Cause sinful pleasure; but when evil turns
Its head, or when its inner counsels don’t
Govern the rate at which its longing burns
For serving its own good— perhaps too much,
Perhaps too little— then the creature spurns
Its own creator, and the two lose touch
Except as adversaries. From that fact
You’ll understand that love must be the source
In you of every virtue and vile act
Deserving punishment. Since love, of course,
Can never turn against the one who feels
The love, but has his welfare most at heart,
All beings are protected by strong seals
Against self-loathing. No one is apart
From the First One, none self-sustaining.
No Creature can be cut off by hating Him.
Only a neighbour’s evil is loved so,
And this love, in your human life and limb,
The common clay in which you come and go,
Springs up in three ways. There is he that hopes
To rise beside his neighbour’s sharp descent
And looks with favour when the downward slopes
Demote another’s greatness, as was meant
To be, he thinks: and he thinks that from Pride.
There’s he that fears his power might be lost
And all his honour and high state denied
Because another has them, at his cost,
Or so he feels, although they rank the same.
Sorely aggrieved, he longs to see reversed
The other’s rise to equal power and fame,
And it’s by Envy that he has been cursed.
The third man feels disgraced by some insult
And hungers for revenge, and plots and plans,
And makes another’s harm into a cult
Which hangs around the house like pots and pans,
And this is Anger. These are the three kinds
Of love gone wrong they weep for back in those
Three circles you’ve just come through. In their minds
They had the vice, and they do not suppose
To be excused, although the sin remained
Just a propensity, mere sinfulness.
Short Essay (Take no more than twenty minutes.)
What do you know about Socrates?
Imagine that superior beings from another planetary system have arrived and suddenly appeared in your room. They insist that you immediately accompany them back to their world. You do not even have time to inform anyone about your departure. You can only take a few clothes and only one book from the shelf where you have kept the texts we studied this year in Humanities 101-102. (If you have used electronic texts, add to this imaginary scenario that you used printed editions.) You take one, and off you go. On the way back to their world they ask you about your selection. In just a couple of sentences, identify the text and briefly explain your choice.
I have provided responses on this exam in conformity with the honor code, having neither received any unauthorized assistance nor provided unauthorized assistance to another student.