Sie sind auf Seite 1von 4

Letter 17

ThisEpistlewaswrittenwhenSymmachussenthismemorialtoValentinianII.St.Ambrose
pressesontheEmperortheconsiderationthatitishisbusinesstodefendreligion,and
notsuperstition.ThememorialwassentwithouttheadhesionoftheChristiansenators,and
thereforedidnotrepresentthatbody.HewarnsValentinianthatifheaccedestotherequesthewill
incurthecensuresoftheChurch,besidesactinginamannerderogatorytothememoryofhis
fatherandbrother.

Ambrose,Bishop,tothemostblessedPrinceandmostChristianEmperorValentinian.

1.AsallmenwholiveundertheRomanswayengageinmilitaryserviceunderyou,theEmperors
andPrincesoftheworld,sotoodoyouyourselvesoweservicetoAlmightyGodandourholyfaith.
ForsalvationisnotsureunlesseveryoneworshipintruththetrueGod,thatistheGodof
theChristians,underWhoseswayareallthingsforHealoneisthetrueGod,Whoistobe
worshippedfromthebottomoftheheartfor"thegodsoftheheathen,"asScripturesays,"are
devils."

2.NoweveryoneisasoldierofthistrueGod,andhewhoreceivesandworshipsHiminhisinmost
spirit,doesnotbringtoHisservicedissimulation,orpretence,butearnestfaithanddevotion.And
if,infine,hedoesnotattaintothis,atleastheoughtnottogiveanycountenancetotheworship
ofidolsandtoprofaneceremonies.FornoonedeceivesGod,towhomallthings,eventhehidden
thingsoftheheart,aremanifest.

3.Since,then,mostChristianEmperor,thereisduefromyoutothetrueGodbothfaithandzeal,
careanddevotionforthefaith,Iwonderhowthehopehasrisenuptosome,thatyouwouldfeelita
dutytorestorebyyourcommandaltarstothegodsoftheheathen,andfurnishthefundsrequisite
forprofanesacrificesforwhatsoeverhaslongbeenclaimedbyeithertheimperialorthecity
treasuryyouwillseemtogiveratherfromyourownfunds,thantoberestoringwhatistheirs.

4.Andtheyarecomplainingoftheirlosses,whoneversparedourblood,whodestroyedthevery
buildingsofthechurches.Andtheypetitionyoutograntthemprivileges,whobythelastJulianlaw
deniedusthecommonrightofspeakingandteaching,andthoseprivilegeswherebyChristiansalso
haveoftenbeendeceivedforbythoseprivilegestheyendeavouredtoensnaresome,partlythrough
inadvertence,partlyinordertoescapetheburdenofpublicrequirementsand,becauseallarenot
foundtobebrave,evenunderChristianprinces,manyhavelapsed.

5.HadthesethingsnotbeenabolishedIcouldprovethattheyoughttobedoneawaybyyour
authoritybutsincetheyhavebeenforbiddenandprohibitedbymanyprincesthroughoutnearly
thewholeworld,andwereabolishedatRomebyGratianofaugustmemory,thebrotherofyour
Clemency,inconsiderationofthetruefaith,andrenderedvoidbyarescriptdonot,Iprayyou,
eitherpluckupwhathasbeenestablishedinaccordancewiththefaith,norrescindyourbrother's
precepts.Incivilmattersifheestablishedanything,noonethinksthatitoughttobetreatedlightly,
whileapreceptaboutreligionistroddenunderfoot.

6.Letnoonetakeadvantageofyouryouthifhebeaheathenwhodemandsthis,itisnotrightthat
heshouldbindyourmindwiththebondsofhisownsuperstitionbutbyhiszealheoughttoteach
andadmonishyouhowtobezealousforthetruefaith,sincehedefendsvainthingswithallthe
passionoftruth.Imyselfadviseyoutodefertothemeritsofillustriousmen,butundoubtedlyGod
mustbepreferredtoall.

7.Ifwehavetoconsultconcerningmilitaryaffairs,theopinionofamanexperiencedinwarfare
shouldbewaitedfor,andhiscounselbefollowedwhenthequestionconcernsreligion,thinkupon
God.NooneisinjuredbecauseGodissetbeforehim.Hekeepshisownopinion.Youdonot
compelamanagainsthiswilltoworshipwhathedislikes.Letthesamelibertybegiventoyou,O
Emperor,andleteveryonebearitwithpatience,ifhecannotextortfromtheEmperorwhathe
wouldtakeitilliftheEmperordesiredtoextortfromhim.Ashufflingspiritisdispleasingto
theheathenthemselves,foreveryoneoughtfreelytodefendandmaintainthefaithandpurposeof
hisownmind.

8.Butifany,Christiansinname,thinkthatanysuchdecreeshouldbemade,letnotbarewords
misleadyourmind,letnotemptywordsdeceiveyou.Whoeveradvisesthis,andwhoeverdecrees
it,sacrifices.Butthatoneshouldsacrificeismoretolerablethanthatallshouldfall.Herethewhole
SenateofChristiansisindanger.

9.IftodayanyheathenEmperorshouldbuildanaltar,whichGodforbid,toidols,andshould
compelChristianstocometogetherthere,inordertobeamongthosewhoweresacrificing,sothat
thesmokeandashesfromthealtar,thesparksfromthesacrilege,thesmokefromtheburning
mightchokethebreathandthroatsofthefaithfulandshouldgivejudgmentinthatcourtwhere
memberswerecompelledtovoteafterswearingatthealtarofanidol(fortheyexplainthatanaltar
issoplacedforthispurpose,thateveryassemblyshoulddeliberateunderitssanction,asthey
suppose,thoughtheSenateisnowmadeupwithamajorityofChristians),aChristianwhowas
compelledwithachoicesuchasthistocometotheSenate,wouldconsiderittobepersecution,
whichoftenhappens,fortheyarecompelledtocometogetherevenbyviolence.Are
theseChristians,whenyouareEmperor,compelledtoswearataheathenaltar?Whatisanoath,
butaconfessionofthedivinepowerofHimWhomyouinvokeaswatcheroveryourgoodfaith?
WhenyouareEmperor,thisissoughtanddemanded,thatyoushouldcommandanaltartobe
built,andthecostofprofanesacrificestobegranted.

10.Butthiscannotbedecreedwithoutsacrilege,whereforeIimploreyounottodecreeororderit,
nortosubscribetoanydecreesofthatsort.I,asapriestofChrist,calluponyourfaith,allof
usbishopswouldhavejoinedincallinguponyou,werenotthereportsosuddenandincredible,
thatanysuchthinghadbeeneithersuggestedinyourcouncil,orpetitionedforbytheSenate.But
farbeitfromtheSenatetohavepetitionedthis,afewheathenaremakinguseofthecommon
name.For,nearlytwoyearsago,whenthesameattemptwasbeingmade,holyDamasus,Bishopof
theRomanChurch,electedbythejudgmentofGod,senttomeamemorial,which
theChristiansenatorsingreatnumbersputforth,protestingthattheyhadgivennosuchauthority,
thattheydidnotagreewithsuchrequestsoftheheathen,norgiveconsenttothem,andthey
declaredpubliclyandprivatelythattheywouldnotcometotheSenate,ifanysuchthingwere
decreed.Isitagreeabletothedignityofyour,thatisChristian,times,thatChristiansenators
shouldbedeprivedoftheirdignity,inorderthateffectshouldbegiventotheprofanewillof
theheathen?ThismemorialIsenttoyourClemency'sbrother,andfromitwasplainthatthe
Senatehadmadenoorderabouttheexpensesofsuperstition.

11.Butperhapsitmaybesaid,whyweretheynotbeforepresentintheSenatewhenthosepetitions
weremade?Bynotbeingpresenttheysufficientlysaywhattheywish,theysaidenoughinwhat
theysaidtotheEmperor.AnddowewonderifthosepersonsdepriveprivatepersonsatRomeof
thelibertyofresisting,whoareunwillingthatyoushouldbefreenottocommandwhatyoudonot
approve,ortomaintainyourownopinion?

12.Andso,rememberingthelegationlatelyentrustedtome,Icallagainuponyourfaith.Icall
uponyourownfeelingsnottodeterminetoansweraccordingtothispetitionoftheheathen,norto
attachtoananswerofsuchasortthesacrilegeofyoursubscription.Refertothefatherofyour
Piety,theEmperorTheodosius,whomyouhavebeenwonttoconsultinalmostallmattersof
greaterimportance.Nothingisgreaterthanreligion,nothingmoreexaltedthanfaith.

13.Ifitwereacivilcausetherightofreplywouldbereservedfortheopposingpartyitisa
religiouscause,andIthebishopmakeaclaim.Letacopyofthememorialwhichhasbeensentbe
givenme,thatImayanswermorefully,andthenletyourClemency'sfatherbeconsultedonthe
wholesubject,andvouchsafeananswer.Certainlyifanythingelseisdecreed,webishopscannot
contentedlysufferitandtakenonoticeyouindeedmaycometothechurch,butwillfindeither
nopriestthere,oronewhowillresistyou.

14.Whatwillyouanswerapriestwhosaystoyou,"Thechurchdoesnotseekyourgifts,becauseyou
haveadornedtheheathentempleswithgifts.TheAltarofChristrejectsyourgifts,becauseyou
havemadeanaltarforidols,forthevoiceisyours,thehandisyours,thesubscriptionisyours,the
deedisyours.TheLordJesusrefusesandrejectsyourservice,becauseyouhaveservedidols,for
Hesaidtoyou:'Youcannotservetwomasters.'Matthew6:24TheVirginsconsecratedtoGodhave
noprivilegesfromyou,anddotheVestalVirginsclaimthem?Whydoyouaskfor
thepriestsofGod,towhomyouhavepreferredtheprofanepetitionsoftheheathen?Wecannot
takeupashareoftheerrorsofothers."

15.Whatwillyouanswertothesewords?Thatyouwhohavefallenarebutaboy?Everyageis
perfectinChrist,everyageisfullofGod.Nochildhoodisallowedinfaith,forevenchildrenhave
confessedChristagainsttheirpersecutorswithfearlessmouth.

16.Whatwillyouansweryourbrother?Willhenotsaytoyou,"IdidnotfeelthatIwasovercome,
becauseIleftyouasEmperorIdidnotgrieveatdying,becauseIhadyouasmyheirIdidnot
mournatleavingmyimperialcommand,becauseIbelievedthatmycommands,especiallythose
concerningdivinereligion,wouldendurethroughallages.Ihadsetupthesememorials
ofpietyandvirtue,Iofferedupthesespoilsgainedfromtheworld,thesetrophiesofvictoryover
thedevil,theseIofferedupasgainedfromtheenemyofall,andinthemiseternalvictory.What
morecouldmyenemytakeawayfromme?Youhaveabrogatedmydecrees,whichsofarhewho
tookuparmsagainstmedidnotdo.NowdoIreceiveamoreterriblewoundinthatmydecreesare
condemnedbymybrother.Mybetterpartisendangeredbyyou,thatwasbutthedeathofmybody,
thisofmyreputation.Nowismypowerannulled,andwhatisharder,annulledbymyownfamily,
andthatisannulled,whichevenmyenemiesspokewellofinme.Ifyouconsentedofyourownfree
will,youhavecondemnedthefaithwhichwasmineifyouyieldedunwillingly,youhavebetrayed
yourown.So,too,whichismoreserious,Iamindangerinyourperson."

16.Whatwillyouansweryourfatheralso?Whowithgreatergriefwilladdressyou,saying,"You
judgedveryillofme,myson,whenyousupposedthatIcouldhaveconnivedattheheathen.No
oneevertoldmethattherewasanaltarintheRomanSenateHouse,I
neverbelievedsuchwickednessasthattheheathensacrificedinthecommonassembly
ofChristiansandheathen,thatistosaythattheGentilesshouldinsulttheChristianswhowere
present,andthatChristiansshouldbecompelledagainsttheirwilltobepresentatthesacrifices.
ManyandvariouscrimeswerecommittedwhileIwasEmperor.Ipunishedsuchasweredetected
ifanyonethenescapednotice,oughtonetosaythatIapprovedofthatofwhichnooneinformed
me?Youhavejudgedveryillofme,ifaforeignsuperstitionandnotmyownfaithpreservedthe
empire."

17.Wherefore,OEmperor,sinceyouseethatifyoudecreeanythingofthatkind,injurywillbe
done,firsttoGod,andthentoyourfatherandbrother,Iimploreyoutodothatwhich
youknowwillbeprofitabletoyoursalvationbeforeGod.

Verwandte Interessen