John of Salisbury: Policraticus (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought) [John of Salisbury, Cary J. Nederman] on *FREE* shipping on. Editor’s introduction John of Salisbury’s Policraticus: Of the Frivolities of Courtiers and the Footprints of Philosophers is commonly acclaimed as the first extended. John of Salisbury (c) was the foremost political theorist of his age. He was trained in scholastic theology and philosophy at Paris.

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If one is ashamed to admit that from which one suffers, then convince him by the physical marks. It is a species of parricide to impugn natural law, and it is as bad as sacrilege to cancel the laws of parents and not to confer due honour on the mother of all. Certainly passionate desire is a wretched and pitiful leprosy. If He arises, if He gives chase, one resorts in vain to the correcting favour of the sacraments and to the protection of walls.

For frequently it happens that subjects imitate the vices of superiors because the people strive to be in conformity with their magistrates, and everyone aspires to that which is perceived to be illustrious in others.

Among the ethical topics that John cites as susceptible to doubt, and thus open to rational debate, are the uses and end and origins of virtues and vices, whether a man who has one virtue po,icraticus all the virtues, whether all sins are equal and are punishable equally.

And when he has been selected, he should not multiply horses for himself, nor return the people to Egypt in 35 John of Salisbury: Although he who is not stirred by the loss of his own material goods is not very human, neither is one in a human condition who is not moved by the loss of that which belongs to another.

For so long as all are led by a single preeminent will, they are deprived of their own free will, universally and individually. To fellow philosopher John Saracen, John casts his state of exile—in language that both echoes the Policraticus and calls to mind Boethius—as conducive to philosophy, writing that he now views his present condition as a.

The Lord will salissbury Himself that He has encountered a man after His own heart and, when He has lifted him up rapidly to the apex within the kingdom, He will offer the kingdom to him perpetually through the succession of the line of his sons. John thereby broadened his concern slaisbury the good life for the individual man to the good life for the entire political body.

He added that it was disgraceful that he had impugned his teaching by his conduct because, through a lapse of intellectual integrity in which he let loose and flew into a rage, he had beaten an innocent person with many blows. Truth is harsh and very often is the parent of difficulty in so far as it will refuse to flatter anyone.

John of Salisbury (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

When he held the imperial proconsulship of the province of Asia, a Smyrnian woman was brought in confessing salisbuty she had slain her husband and son by secretly giving them poison policratkcus they had insidiously and vilely slain her son from another marriage – a fine, exceptional and most innocent youth – and claiming herself to be permitted by the indulgence of the laws and to be ignorant of legal right and to be salixbury so atrocious an injury against herself and her family and the whole of her republic.


The counsel of Brutus is to be used. To multiply horses is really to collect more than necessity requires, whether by reason of vain glory or because of another error. Indeed, men of this sort all speak towards the end of pleasure, not of truth. For since it is certain that God will reward the works of individuals and of everyone in abundant compassion and plentiful justice, who is to be looked upon in a brighter light: This is made known in the lessons of the ancient philosophers themselves John policratjcus also well acquainted with important figures in twelfth- century secular life, especially the young Henry II In this, nature, that best guide to living, is to be followed, since it is nature which aslisbury lodged all of the senses in the head as a microcosm, policraicus is, a little world, of man, and has subjected to it the totality of the members in order that all of them may move correctly provided that the will of a sound head is followed.

The Policraticus is perhaps best known, however, for the number and range of its references to the texts and doctrines of pagan antiquity. In selectively appropriating Epicurean doctrines, he omits significant dimensions of the tradition, while extending other elements in novel directions.

Tyrants are the ministers of God. I recall that my host at Placentia, a man who possessed the most noble blood as well as a wordly prudence founded in the fear of God, had said that it was famous from the recurrent experiences of the Italian cities that so long as they cherished peace and cultivated justice and refrained from perjury, they enjoyed fully and rejoiced in such liberty and peace that there was nothing at all, or very little, which disturbed their calm.

There were a number of Latin-language writers who transmitted to the Middle Ages accounts of Greek philosophical teachings, including Apuleius, Calcidius, Cicero, Lactantius, and St.

Classical Epicureanism depended upon an atomistic cosmology saliebury posited random occurrences in the void as the ontological premise of the universe. Only when someone engages in these pastimes immoderately and without circumspection is it necessary for their practice to be prevented. And when we flourish in this way, we cannot fail to become happy in the way God intended.

For who doubts that those are preferable who are glorified by the privilege of a sort of natural integrity, who have been summoned to virtue by the renown of their ancestors, and who on the same grounds make others confident of the benefits of their future goodness?

John of Salisbury: Policraticus (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought)

But because men desire nothing more than to have their sons succeed them in their goods – inasmuch as those who foresee johnn as their own proper condition perpetuate their lives by means of the progeny of their flesh – this is promised to princes. CHAPTER 7 That the fear of God should be taught, and humility should exist, and this humility should be protected so that the authority of the prince is not diminished; and that some precepts are flexible, others inflexible It is stated next: Princely Moderation John applies his principle that virtue is by definition a salibury between excess and deficiency emphatically to the ruler.


Thematic unity of the Policraticus Because it was composed over the course of many years and touches upon a bewildering array of topics and issues, the Policraticus might appear to be more a rambling and disjointed collection of stories and observations than a focussed and coherent piece of philosophical argument.

I know that Paul is not such, for it is he who proclaims and bemoans the onset of this plague: All virtues by nature may be attained only when pursued within definite limits, and so he is not expecting courtiers to be saints.

Yet truly the amount of that affection, with which subjects are to be embraced like brothers in the arms of charity, must be confined to the limits of moderation. Augustine Against the Academicians: For while it has this sword, yet it is used by the hand of the prince, upon whom is conferred the power of bodily coercion, reserving spiritual authority for the papacy.

For the moment, let us turn to understanding how the tyrant differs from the prince. For this reason, John insists throughout the Policraticus that while many sorts of conduct such as hunting, banqueting, drinking, gaming and so on are vicious if performed often or regularly, they may be condoned if done in moderation for the purpose of recreation. Inasmuch as the duties of each individual are practiced so that provision is made for the corporate community, as long as justice is practiced, the ends of all are imbued with the sweetness of honey.

John of Salisbury

Poljcraticus joined the household of Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury, a vocal and energetic advocate of the rights of the English church, in Jerome writes to Oceanus and Pammachius, yet he mainly castigates the excesses of others.

I do not believe that this could have happened unless it happened at the divine command. The wise man acquires a reputation salisburu folly, the equitable for iniquity, if he strives for virtue itself beyond what is sufficient. Finally, deceit is as Aquilius defines it when one thing is joun and another is pretended; whenever it is performed with the intention of doing harm it is always bad.

The world is arranged after the example of the king, nor is an effect upon the judgments of men a matter of powerfulness of edicts instead of the life of the ruler.