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Comparison Between Ancient Greek and Medieval Political Theories

St Augustine (354-430 AD) Along with The Early Medieval Period

St Augustine took birth in North Africa and was appointed as bishop for 16 long years. As a youngster, he was always taught that there are only two forces on the Earth- The Good and the Evil. He converted and started following Christianity at the age of 33 when inner voices spoke to him and asked him to pick up the bible and start reading it. His major works consist of an autobiography which talks about his spiritual conflicts and how he overcame them named- Confessions, and The City of God. (Anderson, 2012) He took a total of 13 years to pen down his works.

In his work of TheCity of God, he has applied a theory known as ‘Two Cities’, which consist of the City of Earth and a City of God. In this theory, he claims that God chose he people who lived in each of these cities. (Dyson, 2003) The criteria used by God to choose the people has not been mentioned, but it has been stated that the ones chosen by him live in the City of Gods, while the rest (including people who have sinned and fallen angels) have been accommodated in the City of Earth. There have been many interpretations of his works where some interpret the two cities as heaven and hell while others understand it to be the difference between people who are ‘living in flesh’ and the ones ‘living in spirit’. (Vorster, 2015) His political theory was strong and lead to the eventual split between the Church and the State.

St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

St Thomas Aquinas was active during the later part of the 12th century. The Paris, Oxford and Cambridge Universities were founded during that period. Aquinas is majorly known to have brought back the theories that were put forward by Aristotle and were rejected. The theories brought forward by Aquinas included the well-known theories of Supremacy of Law and Morals behind the creation of Law. (Aquinas, 2002) Logic and rationality were given utmost importance during this period and Aquinas put comparatively lesser importance on Faith in his works. The theories put forward by Aquinas are as follows:

  • Man is a social animal and was created to live with a community. The aim of the community was to obtain well-being of each of its members.
  • The world has been created by God by way of logic and rationale and he has already provided mankind with the means to understand the functioning of the world by providing them with intellect.
  • Aquinas divided law into 4 separate categories
    • Eternal Law: controlled by God and he has a plan for everything
    • Natural Law: should be considered as a part of eternal law itself but this can be known to humankind. The ruler was considered to be bound by this law. Aquinas supported the monarch form of Government.
    • Human Law: Man-made law
    • Divine Law: Law made by God but revealed to humans by way of holy documents.

We see that the views held by Aquinas are closer to reality in comparison to those of Augustine as in this generation, due to development of science and technology, we try to find logical explanations for all acts.

Reference for Revisiting Augustine and Thomas Aquinas

Anderson, J. F. (2012). St. Augustine and being: a metaphysical essay. Springer.

Aquinas, T. (2002). Aquinas: political writings.

Dyson, R. W. (2003). Normative theories of society and government in five medieval thinkers: St. Augustine, John of Salisbury, Giles of Rome, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Marsilius of Padua (Vol. 21). Edwin Mellen Press.

Vorster, N. (2015). Just war and virtue: revisiting Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. South African Journal of Philosophy, 34(1), 55-68.

Remember, at the center of any academic work, lies clarity and evidence. Should you need further assistance, do look up to our Arts Assignment Help

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