Augustine’s “De ordine” and his comment on prostitution

Roger Pearse | 6/25/2019 | Staff
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One of the earliest works of St Augustine is a work that he wrote in 386 AD at a country villa while preparing for baptism. It is one of a number of works that he wrote at that time. Augustine had just abandoned his job as a teacher of philosophy, but the milieu is still that of late philosophy.

The work is De ordine, “On Order”, which Robert P. Russell, the first translator, revised to a more meaningful “Divine Providence and the Problem of Evil”.[1] The work is concerned with explaining how God controls everything that happens in the world, even the bad things, although he is not responsible for them. Given in dialogue form, it records a discussion between Augustine and his friends and a couple of students.

De - Book - Chapter - Statement

In De ordine book 2, chapter 4, we read the following statement:

AUGUSTINE: … Now, you were looking for just one or two illustrations for that opinion of yours. To me there already occur countless illustrations which bring me to complete agreement.

Hangman - Cruel - Character - Post - Midst

What more hideous than a hangman? What more cruel and ferocious than his character? Yet he holds a necessary post in the very midst of laws, and he is incorporated into the order of a well-regulated state; himself criminal in character, he is nevertheless, by others’ arrangement, the penalty of evildoers.

What can be mentioned more sordid, more bereft of decency, or more full of turpitude than prostitutes, procurers, and the other pests of that sort? Remove prostitutes from human affairs, and you will unsettle everything because of lusts; place them in the position of matrons, and you will dishonor these latter by disgrace and ignominy. This class of people is, therefore, by its own mode of life most unchaste in its morals; by the law of order, it is most vile in social...
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