Wednesday, April 03, 2024


Things That Delight Us

Augustine, Sermons 159.2 (Patrologia Latina, vol. 38, col. 868; tr. Edmund Hill):
There are things, after all, that it is natural for us in our weakness to delight in; like food and drink which delight us when we are hungry and thirsty; like this light which delights us when it pours down on us from the sky after the sun is risen, or shines from the moon and the stars, or is kindled on earth in lamps to relieve our eyes in the dark; we are delighted by a melodious voice and a lovely ditty, delighted by a sweet smell; our sense of touch delighted too by anything to do with the pleasures of the flesh.

Delectant enim quaedam naturaliter infirmitatem nostram, ut cibus et potus delectant esurientes atque sitientes; ut nos delectat haec lux, quae de caelo funditur sole exorto, vel quae de sideribus et luna fulget, vel quae in terra accenditur luminibus consolantibus tenebras oculorum: delectat canora vox et suavissima cantilena, delectat odor bonus; delectant etiam tactum nostrum quaecumque pertinent ad carnis aliquam voluptatem.
He goes on to distinguish between licit and illicit pleasures:
And of all these things which delight our bodily senses, some are lawful. Our eyes are delighted, as I said, by these great spectacles of nature; but the eyes are also delighted by the spectacles to be seen in the theaters. The first sort are lawful, the other sort unlawful. A sacred psalm sung sweetly delights our ears, but so too do the songs of the music halls; the first sort lawfully, the second unlawfully. The scent of flowers and spicy smells delight our noses; so too does the incense on the altars of demons; the first sort lawfully, the second unlawfully. Food that is not forbidden delights the taste; so too do the banquets that follow sacrilegious sacrifices; the first sort lawfully, the second unlawfully. The embraces of husbands and wives are delightful; so too are those of harlots; the first sort lawfully, the second unlawfully. So you see, my dearest friends, that our bodily senses provide us with delights both lawful and unlawful.

Et haec omnia, quae nos delectant in sensibus corporis, aliqua licita sunt. Delectant enim, ut dixi, oculos spectacula ista magna naturae; sed delectant oculos etiam spectacula theatrorum. Haec licita, illa illicita. Psalmus sacer suaviter cantatus delectat auditum: sed delectant auditum etiam cantica histrionum. Hoc licite, illud illicite. Delectant olfactum flores et aromata, et haec Dei creatura; delectant olfactum etiam thura in aris daemoniorum. Hoc licite, illud illicite. Delectat gustum cibus non prohibitus; delectant gustum etiam epulae sacrilegorum sacrificiorum. Hoc licite, illud illicite. Delectant coniugales amplexus: delectant etiam meretricum. Hoc licite, illud illicite. Videtis ergo, carissimi, esse in istis corporis sensibus licitas et illicitas delectationes.

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