This post is part of an on-going series in which I and others systematically read through Augustine of Hippo’s City of God in 2014.
City of God 19.12–28
19.12. This world desires peace. People want peace in their homes. Nations go to war to establish a peace more favorable to themselves. Even animals and nature tend toward peace.
Augustine mentions Cacus, the mythological beast-man, claiming that even monsters want peace. Hercules kills Cacus in book eight of Virgil’s Aeneid to keep him from terrorizing the people in the area.
19.13. Augustine lists different kinds of peace beginning with the peace of the body and ending with the peace of the whole universe. In each instance, he emphasizes harmony and order.
He moves from the enjoyment of peace to the related issue of goodness of natures. He claims that no one, not even the Devil, has an evil nature. Instead we should talk about the nature as having an exceedingly diminished good. If a nature has no goodness, then it couldn’t experience pain when it loses its peace. (For a refresher on Augustine’s idea of evil growing out of a good created nature, look back at the beginning chapters of book twelve.)
His talk about how wretched and blessed people experience peace foreshadows his future discussion on their eternal states.