medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Christina Figueredo <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>I am trying to find out whether a quotation belongs to Augustine of Hippo or
>It says something like:
>"One of the thieves was saved, do not despair; one of the thieves was
>damned, do not presume." (it is not exact, I'm sorry).
>It appears in S Beckett's Waiting for Godot and it was Beckett himself who
>attributed it to Augustine, but I can't find out the original quotation.
>Does any of you know where it comes from?
It's an Augustinian idea, but I don't find a direct quote with the
tools at hand (in other words, it might be in A's works but just out
of my reach). Here are a few passages containing the notions and
possibly suggestive of the wording:
http://www.ccel.org/fathers/NPNF1-08/ecf17.htm (Psalms numbered
according to the Hebrew and usual modern English system; subtract 1
for Vulgate/LXX numbers)
On Psalm 34, section 23:
The Lord was in the middle Crucified; near Him were two thieves: the
one mocked, the other believed: the one was condemned, the other
justified: the one had his punishment both in this world, and that
which shall be, but unto the other said the Lord, "Verily I say unto
thee, To-day shall thou be with Me in Paradise;" and yet those who
came brake not the bones of the Lord, but of the thieves they brake:
as much were broken the bones of the thief who blasphemed, as of the
thief who believed. Where then is that which is spoken, "The Lord
keepeth all their bones; not one of them shall be broken"? Lo, unto
whom He said, "To-day shall thou be with Me in Paradise," could He
keep all his bones? The Lord answereth thee: Yea, I kept them: for
the firm support of his faith could not be broken by those blows
whereby his legs were broken.
On Psalm 40, section 21:
I would fain see God with mine heart, and cannot from the multitude
of my sins: that is not enough; mine heart does not even know itself.
For no one thoroughly knows himself: let no one presume upon his own
state. Was Peter able to comprehend with his own heart the state of
his own heart, who said, "I will be with Thee even unto death"? There
was a false presumption in the heart; there was lurking in that heart
at the same time a real fear: and the heart was not able to
comprehend the state of the heart. Its state was unknown to the sick
heart itself: it was manifest to the physician. That which was
foretold of him was fulfilled. God knew that in him which he knew not
in himself: because his heart had forsaken him, his heart was unknown
to his heart.
On Psalm 102, section 10:
For in order that men might not live the worse from despair, He
promised a harbour of forgiveness; again, that they might not live
the worse from hope of pardon, He made the day of death uncertain:
fixing both with the utmost providence, both as a refuge for the
returning, and a terror to the loitering. Eat ashes as bread, and
mingle thy drink with weeping; by means of this banquet thou shalt
reach the table of God. Despair not; pardon hath been promised thee.
Thanks be to God, he saith, because it is promised; I hold fast the
promise of God. Now therefore live well. To-morrow, he replieth, I
will live well. God hath promised the pardon; no one promised thee
to-morrow . ...
If you use your browser's search function for "despair" on that huge
CCEL web page (a translation of a large part of A's commentary on the
Psalms), you'll find quite a few more passages along the lines of
that last quote.
You can find the Latin at:
but it's unfortunately not searchable, either on-site nor (yet?) via
Google's advanced search of the domain. Don't forget to subtract 1 to
get the proper Vg. Psalm number []. I was delighted to see that
they have the complete PL works of Augustine on-line now; last I'd
checked they were only missing a few works (including the Psalms),
but it appears they've finally finished.
I don't know how relevant this might be to your query, but unless
there are different versions of _Waiting for Godot_ or the web page
below contains an abridged version, that phrase doesn't seem to be in
the play's discussion of the two thieves. See:
http://samuel-beckett.net/Waiting_for_Godot_Part1.html (about 1/8 of
the way down; there's nothing in the second act at all)
Beckett was reportedly fond of it, though:
Further investigation (i.e., a Google search of the phrase) doesn't
show any hits for Augustine that don't also refer to Beckett, which
in turn suggests to me that its verbal origin is more likely with the
latter than with the former.
[] I have a handy single-page 32KB .pdf file (written as I recall
by Paul Ford) on the two number systems, with a chart of which is
used in a small number of liturgical works. I'd be glad to e-mail a
copy to anyone who writes me off-list.
*** John McChesney-Young ** panis~at~pacbell.net ** Berkeley,
California, U.S.A. ***
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