Saint Augustine's Confessions
we inquire why a crime was committed, we do not accept
the explanation unless it appears that there was the
desire to obtain some of those values which we designate
inferior, or else a fear of losing them. For truly they
are beautiful and comely, though in comparison with the
superior and celestial goods they are abject and contemptible.
A man has murdered another man--what was his motive?
Either he desired his wife or his property or else he
steal to support himself; or else he was afraid of losing
something to him; or else, having been injured, he was
burning to be revenged. Would a man commit murder without
a motive, taking delight simply in the act of murder?
Who would believe such a thing? Even for that savage
and brutal man [Cataline], of whom it was said that he
was gratuitously wicked and cruel, there is still a motive
assigned to his deeds. "Lest through idleness," he says,
"hand or heart should grow inactive." And to what purpose?
Why, even this: that having once got possession of the
city through his practice of his wicked ways, he might
gain honors, empire, and wealth, and thus be exempt from
the fear of the laws and from financial difficulties
in supplying the needs of his family--and from the consciousness
of his own wickedness. So it seems that even Cataline
himself loved not his own villainies, but something else,
and it was this that gave him the motive for his crimes.
Augustine, Excerpt from
The Confessions. Book II, Chapter V, section 11.
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