Augustine and Calvino similarities
Although Augustine of Hippo’s City of
Most people, upon visiting a city, only notice the version of the city that is meant for tourists: the monuments, the shopping districts, the best restaurants. They do not realize that there is another side to the city, such as the poorer areas, the close-knit neighborhoods, or the community center. Both Augustine and Calvino recognize that there are two faces to every city, and both seek to explain them. For Augustine, there is the
As already briefly mentioned, Augustine’s and Calvino’s cities attempt to reform their ways in order to attain a brighter future . Augustine describes
There was, indeed, a kind of shadow and prophetic image of this City of the Saints: an image which served not to represent it on earth, but to point towards that due time when it was to be revealed. This image, Jerusalem, was also called the Holy City, not as being the exact likeness of the truth which is yet to come, but by reason of its pointing towards that other City…One part of the earthly city, by symbolizing something other than itself, has been made into an image of the Heavenly City; and so it is in bondage, because it was established not for its own sake, but in order to serve as a symbol of another City. (Augustine 636-637)
…[T]oday Marozia is a city where all run through leaden passages like packs of rats who tear from one another’s teeth the leftovers which fall from the teeth of the more voracious ones; but a new century is about to begin in which all the inhabitants of Marozia will fly like swallows in the summer sky, calling one another as in a fame, showing off, their wings still, as they swoop, clearing the air of mosquitos and gnats. (Calvino 154).
Marozia is a community that is destined to liberate itself from the immoral and dirty city of the present in order to embrace the free and bright city of the future. Like
Although these cities will strive to reform themselves in order to reach the celestial versions, there is always the possibility of impending destruction if the cities refuse to improve. There is no guarantee that the earthly cities will be able to survive. Augustine notes, “But the earthly city will not be everlasting; for when it is condemned to that punishment which is its end, it will no longer be a city” (Augustine 638). If the citizens of the earthly city fail to recognize that they need God’s peace in their lives and that they need to disregard their pride and jealousy, then they are doomed to destroy themselves because they have nothing to save them from their amoral habits:
But if the higher goods are neglected, which belong to the City on high, where victory will be secure in the enjoyment of eternal and supreme peace: if these are neglected, and those other goods desired so much that they are thought to be the only goods, or loved more than the goods which are believed to be higher, then misery will of necessity follow, and present misery be increased by it. (Augustine 639)
If the men on earth live according to worldly manners, then their world will crumble before them because they do not have the
Or else you might think that Laudomia, too, will disappear, no telling when, and all its citizens with it; in other words the generations will follow one another until they reach a certain number and will then go no further…[E]ach passage between birth and death is a grain of sand that passes the neck, and there will be a last inhabitant of Laudomia born, a last grain to fall, which is now at the top of the pile, waiting. (Calvino 143)
The people need to think positively and look toward something more than just the current time – they need to prepare for the future. Augustine and Calvino both recognize that the cities need to work toward something more than the present circumstances in order achieve their full potential in the future.
Augustine’s and Calvino’s similarities lie in their hopes for the two versions of the cities that they propose. As the authors analyze the earthly and the celestial views of the cities, they demonstrate that the metropolises need to work toward a brighter future by living according to a moral standard in order to avoid destruction. It is by reaching toward something pure that the cities will be able to survive.