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factor to do ? For in the first place he should not easily
judge him to be ungrateful, since, as Seneca remarks {De
Benef. iii.), a man is often grateful although he repays not,
because perhaps he has not the means or the opportunity of
repaying. Secondly, he should be inclined to turn his un-
gratefulness into gratitude, and if he does not achieve this
by being kind to him once, he may by being so a second time.
If, however, the more he repeats his favours, the more
ungrateful and evil the other becomes, he should cease from
bestowing his favours upon him.

Reply Obj. i. The passage quoted speaks of what the
ungrateful man deserves to suffer.

Reply Obj. 2. He that bestows a favour on an ungrateful
person affords him an occasion not of sin but of gratitude and
love. And if the recipient takes therefrom an occasion of
ingratitude, this is not to be imputed to the bestower.

Reply Obj. 3. He that bestows a favour must not at once
act the part of a punisher of ingratitude, but rather that of a
kindly physician, by healing the ingratitude with repeated



[In Four Articles.)

We must now consider vengeance, under which head there
are four points of inquiry: (i) Whether vengeance is law-
ful ? (2) Whether it is a special virtue ? (3) Of the manner
of taking vengeance: (4) On whom should vengeance be
taken ?

First Article,
whether vengeance is lawful ?

We proceed thus to the First Article : —

Objection i. It seems that vengeance is not lawful. For
whoever usurps what is God's sins. But vengeance belongs
to God, for it is written (Deut. xxxii. 35, and Rom. xii. 19) :
Revenge to Me, and I will repay. Therefore all vengeance is

Ohj. 2. Further, He that takes vengeance on a man
does not bear with him. But we ought to bear with the
wicked, for a gloss on Cant. ii. 2, As the lily among the thorns,
says : He is not a good man that cannot hear with a wicked one.
Therefore we should not take vengeance on the wicked.

Obj. 3. Further, Vengeance is taken by inflicting punish-
ment, which is the cause of servile fear. But the New Law is
not a law of fear, but of love, as Augustine states [Contra
Adamant, xvii.). Therefore at least in the New Testament
all vengeance is unlawful.

Obj. 4. Further, A man is said to avenge himself when he
takes revenge for wrongs inflicted on himself. But, seem-
ingly, it is unlawful even for a judge to punish those who have


65 VENGEANCE Q. io8. Art. i

wronged him : for Chrysostom* says : Let us learn after Christ's
example to hear our own wrongs with magnanimity, yet not to
suffer God's wrongs, not even by listening to them. Therefore
vengeance seems to be unlawful.

Ohj. 5. Further, The sin of a multitude is more harmful
than the sin of only one : for it is written (Ecclus. xxvi. 5-7) :
Of three things my heart hath been afraid . . . the accusation
of a city, and the gathering together of the people, and a false
calumny. But vengeance should not be taken on the sin
of a multitude, for a gloss on Matth. xiii. 29, 30, Lest per-
haps . . . you root up the wheat . . . suffer both to grow, says
that a multitude should not be excommunicated, nor should the
sovereign. Neither therefore is any other vengeance lawful.

On the contrary. We should look to God for nothing save
what is good and lawful. But we are to look to God for
vengeance on His enemies: for it is written (Luke xviii. 7):
Will not God revenge His elect who cry to Him day and night ?
as if to say: He will indeed. Therefore vengeance is not
essentially evil and unlawful.

/ answer that. Vengeance consists in the infliction of a
penal evil on one who has sinned. Accordingly, in the
matter of vengeance, we must consider the mind of the
avenger. For if his intention is directed chiefly to the evil
of the person on whom he takes vengeance, and rests there,
then his vengeance is altogether unlawful: because to take
pleasure in another's evil belongs to hatred, which is contrary
to the charity whereby we are bound to love all men. Nor
is it an excuse that he intends the evil of one who has unjustly
inflicted evil on him, as neither is a man excused for hating
one that hates him : for a man may not sin against another
just because the latter has already sinned against him, since
this is to be overcome b}^ evil, which was forbidden by the
Apostle, who says (Rom. xii. 21) : Be not overcome by evil, but
overcome evil by good.

If, however, the avenger's intention be directed chiefly to
some good, to be obtained by means of the punishment of

* Cf. Opus Imperfecium, Horn. v. in Matth. falsely ascribed to
S. Chrysostom.

II. ii. 4 5

Q. io8. Art. i THE " SUMMA THEOLOGICA " 66

the person who has sinned (for instance that the sinner may
amend, or at least that he may be restrained and others
be not disturbed, that justice may be upheld, and God
honoured), then vengeance maybe lawful, provided other due
circumstances be observed.

Reply Ohj. i. He who takes vengeance on the wicked in
keeping with his rank and position does not usurp what
belongs to God, but makes use of the power granted him by
God. For it is written (Rom. xiii. 4) of the earthly prince
that he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath upon
him that doeth evil. If, however, a man takes vengeance
outside the order of divine appointment, he usurps what
is God's and therefore sins.

Reply Ohj. 2. The good bear with the wicked by enduring
patiently, and in due manner, the wrongs they themselves
receive from them : but they do not bear with them so as to
endure the wrongs they inflict on God and their neighbour.
For Chrysostom* says : It is praiseworthy to he patient under
ottr own wrongs, hut to overlook God's wrongs is most wicked.

Reply Ohj. 3. The law of the Gospel is the law of love, and
therefore those who do good out of love, and who alone
properly belong to the Gospel, ought not to be terrorized
by means of punishment, but only those who are not moved
by love to do good, and who, though they belong to the
Church outwardly, do not belong to it in merit.

Reply Ohj. 4. Sometimes a wrong done to a person
reflects on God and the Church : and then it is the duty of
that person to avenge the wrong. For example, Elias made
fire descend on those who were come to seize him (4 Kings i.) ;
likewise Ehseus cursed the boys that mocked him (4 Kings ii.) ;
and Pope Sylverius excommunicated those who sent him
into exile (XXIII., Q. iv., Cap. Guilisarius). But in so far
as the wrong inflicted on a man affects his person, he should
bear it patiently if this be expedient. For these precepts
of patience are to be understood as referring to preparedness
of the mind, as Augustine states {De Serm. Dom. in Monte i.).

Reply Ohj. 5. When the whole multitude sins, vengeance

* Cf. Ohj. 4 and footnote.

67 VENGEANCE Q. io8. Art. i

must be taken on them, either in respect of the whole
multitude — thus the Egyptians were drowned in the Red
Sea while they were pursuing the children of Israel (Exod.
xiv.), and the people of Sodom were entirely destroyed
(Gen. xix.) — or as regards part of the multitude, as may
be seen in the punishment of those who worshipped the calf.

Sometimes, however, if there is hope of many making
amends, the severity of vengeance should be brought to
bear on a few of the principals, whose punishment fills the
rest with fear; thus the Lord (Num. xxv.) commanded
the princes of the people to be hanged for the sin of the

On the other hand, if it is not the whole but only a part of
the multitude that has sinned, then if the giiilty can be
separated from the innocent, vengeance should be wrought on
them: provided, however, that this can be done without
scandal to others; else the multitude should be spared and
severity forgone. The same applies to the sovereign, whom
the multitude follow. For his sin should be borne with, if
it cannot be punished without scandal to the multitude:
unless indeed his sin were such, that it would do more harm
to the multitude, either spiritually or temporally, than would
the scandal that was feared to arise from his punishment.

Second Article,
whether vengeance is a special virtue?

We proceed thus to the Second Article : —

Objection i. It seems that vengeance is not a special
and distinct virtue. For just as the good are rewarded for
their good deeds, so are the wicked punished for their evil
deeds. Now the rewarding of the good does not belong to
a special virtue, but is an act of commutative justice.
Therefore in the same way vengeance should not be ac-
counted a special virtue.

Ohj. 2. Further, There is no need to appoint a special
virtue for an act to which a man is sufficiently disposed by
the other virtues. Now man is sufficiently disposed by the


virtues of fortitude or zeal to avenge evil. Therefore
vengeance should not be reckoned a special virtue.

Ohj. 3. Further, There is a special vice opposed to every
special virtue. But seemingly no special vice is opposed
to vengeance. Therefore it is not a special virtue.

On the contrary, Tully {De Inv. Rhet. ii.) reckons it a part
of justice.

I answer that, As the Philosopher states (Ethic, ii. i), apti-
tude to virtue is in us by nature, but the complement of
virtue is in us through habituation or some other cause.
Hence it is evident that virtues perfect us so that we follow
in due manner our natural inclinations, which belong to the
natural right. Wherefore to every definite natural inclina-
tion there corresponds a special virtue. Now there is a
special inclination of nature to remove harm, for which
reason animals have the irascible power distinct from the
concupiscible. Man resists harm by defending himself
against wrongs, lest they be inflicted on him, or he avenges
those which have already been inflicted on him, with the
intention, not of harming, but of removing the harm done.
And this belongs to vengeance, for Tully says (loc. cit.)
that by vengea^ice we resist force, or wrong, and in general
whatever is obscure"^ (i.e. derogatory), either by self-defence
or by avenging it. Therefore vengeance is a special virtue.

Reply Obj. i. Just as repayment of a legal debt belongs to
commutative justice, and as repayment of a moral debt,
arising from the bestowal of a particular favour, belongs to
the virtue of gratitude, so too the punishment of sins,
so far as it is the concern of public justice, is an act of com-
mutative justice ; while so far as it is concerned in defending
the rights of the individual by whom a wrong is resisted, it
belongs to the virtue of revenge.

Reply Obj. 2. Fortitude disposes to vengeance by re-
moving an obstacle thereto, namely, fear of an imminent
danger. Zeal, as denoting the fervour of love, signifies the
primary root of vengeance, in so far as a man avenges the

* Ohscurum. Cicero wrote obfuturum: but the sense is the same as
S. Thomas gives in the parenthesis.


wrong done to God and his neighbour, because charity makes
him regard them as his own. Now every act of virtue
proceeds from charity as its root, since, according to Gregory
(Horn, xxvii. in Ev.), there are no green leaves on the bough
of good works, unless charity be the root.

Reply Obj. 3. Two vices are opposed to vengeance: one
by way of excess, namely, the sin of cruelty or brutality,
which exceeds the measure in punishing: while the other is
a vice b}^ way of deficiency and consists in being remiss in
punishing, wherefore it is written (Prov. xiii. 24): He that
spareth the rod hateth his son. But the virtue of vengeance
consists in observing the due measure of vengeance with
regard to all the circumstances.

Third Article.

whether vengeance should be wrought by means of
punishments customary among men ?

We proceed thus to the Third Article : —

Objection i. It seems that vengeance should not be
wrought by means of punishments customary among men.
For to put a man to death is to uproot him. But Our
Lord forbade (Matth. xiii. 29) the uprooting of the cockle,
whereby the children of the wicked one are signified. There-
fore sinners should not be put to death.

Obj. 2. Further, All who sin mortally seem to be deserv-
ing of the same punishment. Therefore if some who sin
mortally are punished with death, it seems that all such
persons should be punished with death : and this is evidently

Obj. 3. Further, To punish a man publicly for his sin
seems to publish his sin: and this would seem to have a
harmful effect on the multitude, since the example of sin is
taken by them as an occasion for sin. Therefore it seems
that the punishment of death should not be inflicted for a sin.

On the contrary, These punishments are fixed by the divine
law as appears from what we have said above (I. -II.,
Q. CV., A. 2).

Q. io8. Art. 3 THE " SUMMA THEOLOGICA " 70

/ answer that, Vengeance is lawful and virtuous so far as it
tends to the prevention of evil. Now some who are not
influenced by motive of virtue are prevented from commit-
ting sin, through fear of losing those things which they
love more than those they obtain b}^ sinning, else fear would
be no restraint to sin. Consequently vengeance for sin
should be taken by depriving a man of what he loves most.
Now the things which man loves most are Hfe, bodily safety,
his own freedom, and external goods such as riches, his
country and his good name. Wherefore, according to
Augustine's reckoning {De Civ. Dei xxi.), Tully writes that
the laws recognize eight kinds of punishment : namely, death,
whereby man is deprived of life; stripes, retaliation, or the
loss of eye for eye, whereby man forfeits his bodily safetj^;
slavery, and imprisonment, whereby he is deprived of free-
dom ; exile, whereby he is banished from his country ; fi/nes,
whereby he is mulcted in his riches; ignominy, whereby he
loses his good name.

Reply Ohj, i. Our Lord forbids the uprooting of the
cockle, when there is fear lest the wheat be uprooted to-
gether with it. But sometimes the wicked can be uprooted
by death, not only without danger, but even with great
profit, to the good. Wherefore in such a case the punish-
ment of death may be inflicted on sinners.

Reply Ohj. 2. All who sin mortally are deserving of eternal
death, as regards future retribution, which is in accordance
with the truth of the divine judgment. But the punish-
ments of this life are more of a medicinal character ; where-
fore the punishment of death is inflicted on those sins alone
which conduce to the grave undoing of others.

Reply Ohj. 3. The very fact tliat the punishment, whether
of death or of any kind that is fearsome to man, is made
known at the same time as the sin, makes man's will averse
to sin: because the fear of punishment is greater than the
enticement of the example of sin.

71 VENGEANCE Q. io8. Art. 4

Fourth Article.

whether vengeance should be taken on those who
have sinned involuntarily ?

We proceed thus to the Fourth Article : —

Objection i. It seems that vengeance should be taken
on those who have sinned involuntarily. For the will of
one man does not follow from the will of another. Yet one
man is punished for another, according to Exod. xx. 5,
/ am . , . God . . . jealous, visiting the iniquity of the
fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation.
Thus for the sin of Cham, his son Chanaan was cursed
(Gen. ix. 25), and for the sin of Giezi, his descendants were
struck with leprosy (4 Kings v.). Again the blood of
Christ lays the descendants of the Jews under the ban of
punishment, for they said (Matth. xxvii. 25) : His blood be
upon us and upon our children. Moreover, we read (Josue vii.)
that the people of Israel were delivered into the hands of their
enemies for the sin of Achan, and that the same people were
overthrown by the Philistines on account of the sin of the
sons of Heli (i Kings iv.). Therefore a person is to be
punished without having deserved it voluntarily.

Obj. 2. Further, Nothing is voluntary except what is in a
man's power. But sometimes a man is punished for what
is not in his power; thus a man is removed from the
administration of the Church on account of being infected
with leprosy; and a Church ceases to be an episcopal see on
account of the depravity or evil deeds of the people. There-
fore vengeance is taken not only for voluntary sins.

Obj. 3. Further, Ignorance makes an act involuntary.
Now vengeance is sometimes taken on the ignorant. Thus
the children of the people of Sodom, though they were in
invincible ignorance, perished with their parents (Gen. xix.).
Again, for the sin of Dathan and Abiron their children were
swallowed up together with them (Num. xvi.). Moreover,
dumb animals, which are devoid of reason, were commanded
to be slain on account of the sin of the Amalekites (i Kings

Q. io8. Art. 4 THE " SUMMA THEOLOGICA " 72

XV.). Therefore vengeance is sometimes taken on those
who have deserved it involuntarily.

Obj. 4. Further, Compulsion is most opposed to volun-
tariness. But a man does not escape the debt of punish-
ment through being compelled by fear to commit a sin.
Therefore vengeance is sometimes taken on those who have
deserved it involuntarily.

Obj. 5. Further, Ambrose says on Luke v. that the ship in
which Judas was, was in distress ; wherefore Peter, who was
calm in the security of his own merits, was in distress about
those of others. But Peter did not will the sin of Judas.
Therefore a person is sometimes punished without having
voluntarily deserved it.

On the contrary, Punishment is due to sin. But every
sin is voluntary according to Augustine (De Lib. Arb. iii. :
Retract, i.). Therefore vengeance should be taken only on
those who have deserved it voluntarily.

I answer that, Punishment may be considered in two ways.
First, under the aspect of punishment, and in this way
punishment is not due save for sin, because by means of
punishment the equality of justice is restored, in so far as he
who by sinning has exceeded in following his own will
suffers something that is contrary to his will. Wherefore,
since every sin is voluntary, not excluding original sin, as
stated above (I.-IL, Q. LXXXL, A. i), it follows that no one is
punished in this way, except for something done voluntarily.
Secondly, punishment may be considered as a medicine, not
only healing the past sin, but also preserving from future
sin, or conducing to some good, and in this way a person is
sometimes punished without any fault of his own, yet not
without cause.

It must, however, be observed that a medicine never
removes a greater good in order to promote a lesser ; thus the
medicine of the body never blinds the eye, in order to repair
the heel: yet sometimes it is harmful in lesser things that
it may be helpful in things of greater consequence. And
since spiritual goods are of the greatest consequence, while
temporal goods are least important, sometimes a person is


punished in his temporal goods without any fault of his own.
Such are many of the punishments inflicted by God in this
present life for our humiliation or probation. But no one
is punished in spiritual goods without any fault on his part,
neither in this nor in the future hfe, because in the latter
punishment is not medicinal, but a result of spiritual con-

Reply Ohj. i. A man is never condemned to a spiritual
punishment for another man's sin, because spiritual punish-
ment affects the soul, in respect of which each man is master
of himself. But sometimes a man is condemned to punish-
ment in temporal matters for the sin of another, and this
for three reasons. First, because one man may be the
temporal goods of another, and so he may be punished in
punishment of the latter: thus children, as to the body,
are a belonging of their father, and slaves are a possession
of their master. Secondly, when one person's sin is trans-
mitted to another, either by imitation, as children copy the
sins of their parents, and slaves the sins of their masters, so as
to sin with greater daring ; or by way of merit, as the sinful
subjects merit a sinful superior, according to Job xxxiv. 30,
Who maketh a man that is a hypocrite to reign for the sins of
the people P Hence the people of Israel were punished for
David's sin in numbering the people (2 Kings xxiv.). This
may also happen through some kind of consent or conni-
vance: thus sometimes even the good are punished in tem-
poral matters together with the wicked, for not having con-
demned their sins, as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei ix.).
Thirdly, in order to mark the unity of human fellowship,
whereby one man is bound to be solicitous for another, lest
he sin; and in order to inculcate horror of sin, seeing that the
punishment of one affects all, as though all were one body,
as Augustine says in speaking of the sin of Achan (QQ. sup.
Josue viii.). The saying of the Lord, Visiting the iniquity
of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth
generation, seems to belong to mercy rather than to severity,
since He does not take vengeance forthwith, but waits for
some future time, in order that the descendants at least

Q. io8. Art. 4 THE " SUMMA THEOLOGICA " 74

may mend their ways; yet should the wickedness of the
descendants increase, it becomes almost necessary to take
vengeance on them.

Reply Obj. 2. As Augustine states (loc. cit.), human judg-
ment should conform to the divine judgment, when this is
manifest, and God condemns men spiritually for their own
sins. But human judgment cannot be conformed to God's
hidden judgments, whereby He punishes certain persons
in temporal matters without any fault of theirs, since man
is unable to grasp the reasons of these judgments, so as to
know what is expedient for each individual. Wherefore
according to human judgment a man should never be con-
demned without fault of his own to an inflictive punish-
ment, such as death, mutilation or flogging. But a man
may be condemned, even according to human judgment, to
a punishment of forfeiture, even without any fault on his
part, but not without cause: and this in three ways.

First, through a person becoming, without any fault of his,
disqualified for having or acquiring a certain good : thus for
being infected with leprosy a man is removed from the
administration of the Church: and for bigamy, or through
pronouncing a death sentence a man is hindered from re-
ceiving sacred orders.

vSecondly, because the particular good that he forfeits
is not his own but common property : thus that an episcopal
see be attached to a certain church belongs to the good
of the whole city, and not only to the good of the clerics.

Thirdly, because the good of one person may depend on
the good of another : thus in the crime of high treason a son
loses his inheritance through the sin of his parent.

Reply Obj. 3. By the judgment of God children are
punished in temporal matters together with their parents,
both because they are a possession of their parents, so that
their parents are punished also in their person, and because
this is for their good lest, should they be spared, they might
imitate the sins of their parents, and thus deserve to be
punished still more severely.

Vengeance is wrought on dumb animals and any other

75 VENGEANCE Q. io8. Art. 4

irrational creatures, because in this way their owners are
punished; and also in horror of sin.

Reply Ohj. 4. An act done through compulsion of fear is
not involuntary simply, but has an admixture of voluntari-
ness, as stated above (I.-II., Q. VI., AA. 5, 6).

Reply Ohj. 5. The other apostles were distressed about
the sin of Judas, in the same way as the multitude is
punished for the sin of one, in commendation of unity, as
stated above [Reply Ohj. i, 2).


{In Four Articles.)

We must now consider truth and the vices opposed thereto.
Concerning truth there are four points of inquiry : (i) Whether
truth is a virtue ? (2) Whether it is a special virtue ? (3)
Whether it is a part of justice ? (4) Whether it inclines to
that which is less ?

First Article,
whether truth is a virtue ?

We proceed thus to the First Article : —

Objection i. It seems that truth is not a virtue. For the
first of virtues is faith, whose object is truth. Since then
the object precedes the habit and the act, it seems that truth
is not a virtue, but something prior to virtue.

Obj. 2. Further, According to the Philosopher {Ethic, iv. 7),
it belongs to truth that a man should state things concerning

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