De uiduis

Dublin Core

Title

De uiduis

Creator

Ambrose

Date

377-8

Source

PL 16.233-62, at cols. 245-7

Identifier

Ambr.Uid.

Language

Latin

Subject

CPL 146

Description

Ambrose

Publisher

BWH

Contributor

BWH

Relation

Explicates Biblical Judith

Format

prose

Type

treatise

Coverage

VII

Text Item Type Metadata

Text

VII. Fortitudinem uiduis non deesse in Iudith ostenditur: cuius ueste ac ieiuniis commemoratis, describitur eiusdem in Holophernem praeparatio. Quanta fuerit eius castitas, atque in commentanda pia fraude sapientia: quanta estiam temperantia el sobrietas. Ad extremum demonstrato non maiorem in ipsa fortitudinis quam prudentiae laudem emicare, summa eius in tanto successu modestia declaratur.
Sed nec fortitude bonae uiduae deesse consueuit. Haec enim uera est fortitudo, quae naturae usum, sexus infirmitatem, mentis deuotione transgreditur: qualis in illa fuit, cui nomen Iudith, quae uiros obsidione fractos, perculsos metu, tabidos fame, sola potuit a colluuione reuocare, ab oste defendere. Ea enim, ut legimus, cum Holophernes successu multorum terribilis praeliorum, intra muros innumera uirorum millia coegisset, armatis pauentibus, et de extrema iam sorte tractantibus, extra murum processit: et illo praestantior exercitu, quem liberauit; et eo fortior, quem fugauit.
Sed ut discas maturae uiduitatis affectum, scriem ipsam persequere Scripturarum. A diebus enim uiri sui quibus ille defunctus est, uestem iucunditatis deposuit, moeroris assumpsit: per omnes dies intenta ieiunio, sabbato tantum, et dominica sacratarumque temporibus feriarum, non refectioni indulgens, sed religioni deferens. Hoc est enim, siue manducatis, siue bibitis, in nomine Iesu Christi agenda esse omnia [1 Cor. 10:31]; ut etiam ipsa refectio corporalis sacrae religionis cultui deferatur. Diuturnis igitur moeroribus, et quotidianis roborata ieiuniis sancta Iudith quae saeculi oblectamenta non quaerit, periculi negligens, mortisque contemptu fortior; ut commenta strueret doli, uestem illam iucunditatis, qua, uiuente uiro, uestiri solebat, se induit: quasi placitura uiro, si patriam liberaret. Sed uirum alium uidebat, cui placere quaerebat; illum utique, de quo dictum est: Post me uenit uir, qui ante me factus est [John 1:30]. Et bene coniugales pugnatura resumpsit ornatus; quia monimenta coniugii arma sunt castitatis: neque enim uidua alias aut placere posset, aut uincere.
Quid caetera persequamur, quod inter millia hostium casta permansit? Quid eius sapientian praedicemus, quod huiuscemodi est commentata consilium? Potentem elegit, ut intemperantiam a se inferioris arceret, occasionem pararet uictoriae. Abstinentiae meritum, pudicitiae gratiam reseruauit. Nec cibo enim, ut legimus, maculata, nec adulterio, non minorem seruatae castitatis ex hostibus reuexit triumphum, quam patriae liberatae.
Quid sobrietatem loquar? Temperantia enim uirtus est feminarum. Inebriatis uino uiris et somno sepultis abstulit uidua gladium, exeruit manum, bellatoris abscidit caput, per medias hostium acies intemerata processit. Aduertitis igitur quautum nocere mulieribus possit ebrietas, quando uiros uina sic soluunt, ut uincantur a feminis? Esto igitur, uidua, temperans: casta primum a uino, ut possis casta esse ab adulterio. Nequaquam te ille tentabit, si uina non tenten. Nam si Iudith bibisset, dormisset cum adultero. Sed quia non bibit; haud difficile ebrios exercitus, unius sobrietas et uincere potuit, et eludere.
Nec dexterae tantum hoc opus, sed multo maior trophaea sapientiae. Nam cum manu solum Holophernem uicisset, consilio omnem hostium uicit exercitum. Suspenso enim Holophernis capite, quod uirorum non potuit excogitari consilio, suorum erexit animos, hostium fregit: suos pudore excitans, hostes quoque terrore percellens; coque caesi sunt et fugati. Ita unius uiduae temperantia atque sobrietas non solum naturam suam uicit, sed quot est amplius, fecit uiros etiam fortiores.
Nec his tamen elata successibus, cui utique gaudere et exsultate licebat iure uictoriae, uiduitatis reliquit officium: sed contemptis omnibus qui eius nuptias ambiebant, uestem iudunditatis deposuit, uiduitatis resumpsit: nec triumphorum suorum amauit ornatus, illos existimans esse meliores quibus uitia corporis, quam quibus hostium arma uincuntur.
By the example of Judith is shown that courage is not wanting in widows; her preparation for her visit to Holofernes is dwelt upon, as also her chastity and her wisdom, her sobriety and moderation. Lastly, after demonstrating that she was no less brave than prudent, her modesty after her success is set forth.
But bravery also is usually not wanting to a good widow. For this is true bravery, which surpasses the usual nature and the weakness of the sex by the devotion of the mind, such as was in her who was named Judith, who of herself alone was able to rouse up from utter prostration and defend from the enemy men broken down by the siege, smitten with fear, and pining with hunger. For she, as we read, when Holofernes, dreaded after his success in so many battles, had driven countless thousands of men within the walls; when the armed men were afraid, and were already treating about the final surrender, went forth outside the wall, both excelling that army which she delivered, and braver than that which she put to flight.
But in order to learn the dispositions of ripe widowhood, run through the course of the Scriptures. From the time when her husband died she laid aside the garments of mirth, and took those of mourning. Every day she was intent on fasting except on the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day and the times of holy days, not as yielding to desire of refreshment, but out of respect for religion. For this is that which is said: “Whether ye eat or drink, all is to be done in the name of Jesus Christ,” that even the very refreshment of the body is to have respect to the worship of holy religion. So then, holy Judith, strengthened by lengthened mourning and by daily fasting, sought not the enjoyments of the world regardless of danger, and strong in her contempt for death. In order to accomplish her stratagem she put on that robe of mirth, wherewith in her husband’s lifetime she was wont to be clothed, as though she would give pleasure to her husband, if she freed her country. But she saw another man whom she was seeking to please, even Him, of Whom it is said: “After me cometh a Man Who is preferred before me.” And she did well in resuming her bridal ornaments when about to fight, for the reminders of wedlock are the arms of chastity, and in no other way could a widow please or gain the victory.
Why relate the sequel? How she amongst thousands of enemies, remained chaste. Why speak of her wisdom, in that she designed such a scheme? She chose out the commander, to ward off from herself the insolence of inferiors, and prepare an opportunity for victory. She reserved the merit of abstinence and the grace of chastity. For unpolluted, as we read, either by food or by adultery, she gained no less a triumph over the enemy by preserving her chastity than by delivering her country.
What shall I say of her sobriety? Temperance, indeed, is the virtue of women. When the men were intoxicated with wine and buried in sleep, the widow took the sword, put forth her hand, cut off the warrior’s head, and passed unharmed through the midst of the ranks of the enemy. You notice, then, how much drunkenness can injure a woman, seeing that wine so weakens men that they are overcome by women. Let a widow, then, be temperate, pure in the first place from wine, that she may be pure from adultery. He will tempt you in vain, if wine tempts you not. For if Judith had drunk she would have slept with the adulterer. But because she drank not, the sobriety of one without difficulty was able both to overcome and to escape from a drunken army.
And this was not so much a work of her hands, as much more a trophy of her wisdom. For having overcome Holofernes by her hand alone, she overcame the whole army of the enemies by her wisdom. For hanging up the head of Holofernes, a deed which the wisdom of the men had been unable to plan, she raised the courage of her countrymen, and broke down that of the enemy. She stirred up her own friends by her modesty, and struck terror into the enemy so that they were put to flight and slain. And so the temperance and sobriety of one widow not only subdued her own nature, but, which is far more, even made men more brave.
And yet she was not so elated by this success, though she might well rejoice and exult by right of her victory, as to give up the exercises of her widowhood, but refusing all who desired to wed her she laid aside her garments of mirth and took again those of her widowhood, not caring for the adornments of her triumph, thinking those things better whereby vices of the body are subdued than those whereby the weapons of an enemy are overcome.

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Citation

Ambrose, “De uiduis,” Book of Judith, accessed December 16, 2017, http://bookofjudith.lib.uconn.edu/items/show/6.