Livy (64 or 59 BCE – 17 CE):
Nothing is more deceitful than a depraved piety by which the will of the gods serves as a pretext for crimes.
Suetonius (c69 – after 122 CE):
He who suffers before he needs to, suffers more than he needs to.
(Life of Caesar)
There is a plague on Man: his opinion that he knows something.
That is why ignorance is so strongly advocated by our religion as a quality appropriate to belief and obedience.
In Man curiosity is an innate evil, dating from his origins …
The original Fall occurred when Man was anxious to increase his wisdom and knowledge: that path led headlong to eternal damnation.
Pride undoes man; it corrupts him; pride makes him leave the trodden paths, welcome novelty and prefer to be the leader of a lost band wandering along the road to perdition …
Whatever share in the knowledge of Truth we may have obtained, it has not been acquired by our own powers.
God has clearly shown us that [by choosing from among the common people] simple and ignorant apostles to bear witness of his wondrous secrets …
Our religion did not come to us through reasoned arguments or from our own intelligence: it came to us from outside authority, by commandments.
That being so, weakness of judgement helps us more than strength; blindness, more than clarity of vision.
We become learned in God's wisdom more by ignorance than by knowledge.
It is not surprising that our earth-based, natural means cannot conceive knowledge which is heaven-based and supernatural; let us merely bring our submissiveness and obedience …
Our minds are dangerous tools, rash and prone to go astray: it is hard to reconcile them with order and moderation. …
It is a miracle if you find one who is settled and civilized.
We are right to erect the strictest possible fences around the human mind. …
Certainly few souls are so powerful, so law-abiding and so well endowed that we can trust them to act on their own, allowing them liberty of judgement to sail responsibly and moderately beyond accepted opinion.
It is more expedient to keep them under tutelage.
Every single idea which results from our own reflections and our own faculties — whether it is true or false — is subject to dispute and uncertainty. …
Everything we undertake without God's help, everything we try and see without the lamp of his grace, is vanity and madness.
(An apology for Raymond Sebond, p 622)
St Hilary, the Bishop of Poitiers and a famous enemy of the Arian heresy, was in Syria when he was told that his only daughter Abra, whom he had left overseas with her mother, was being courted by some of the most notable lords of the land …
He wrote to her … saying that he had found for her during his journey a Suitor who was far greater and more worthy, a Bridegroom of very different power and glory, who would vouchsafe her a present of robes and jewels of countless price.
His aim was to make her lose the habit and taste of worldly pleasures and to wed her to God; but since the most sure and shortest way seemed to him that his daughter should die, he never ceased to beseech God in his prayers, vows and supplications that he should take her from this world and call her to Himself.
And so it happened: soon after his return she did die, at which he showed uncommon joy. …
[And,] when St Hilary's wife heard from him how the death of their daughter had been brought about by his wish and design, and how much happier she was to have quitted this world than to have remained in it, she too took so lively a grasp on that eternal life in Heaven that she besought her husband, with the utmost urgency, to do the same for her.
Soon after, when God took her to Himself in answer to both their prayers, the death was welcomed with open arms and with an uncommon joy which both of them shared.
(On fleeing from pleasures at the cost of one's life, p 246)
I condemn all violence in the education of tender minds which are being trained for honour and freedom … and I hold that you will never achieve by force what you cannot achieve by reason, intelligence and skill. …
I have never seen caning achieve anything except making souls more cowardly or more maliciously stubborn. …
[Indeed, even] if I were able to make myself feared [by my children,] I would rather make myself loved.
(On the affection of fathers for their children, pp 437 & 441)
Anyone can see that all things within a State depend upon the way it educates and brings up its children.
Yet quite injudiciously that is left to the mercy of the parents, no matter how mad or wicked they may be.
How many times have I been tempted, among others things, to make a dramatic intervention so as to avenge some little boys whom I saw being bruised, knocked about and flayed alive by some frenzied father or mother beside themselves with anger.
You can see fire and rage flashing from their eyes …
(On Anger, p 809)
(The Essays of Michel de Montaigne, M A Screech, Translator, Penguin, 1991)
Control through Fear
Education through Violence
Dominance through Force
Obedience through Submission
Submission is a poor substitute for respect.
Fear instils only servility; it does not command respect.
It is important not to mistake one for the other.
(23 April 2017)