44Indeed, ‘although Augustine also has his technicalmoments, his usual style is rather the free ﬂow of late-classical eloquence’.45Moreover, ‘his terminology manifests a certain looseness and ﬂexibility’46suchthat terms like ‘societas,civitas,populus,res publica,regnumare frequently inter-changeable or at least so closely related that the meaning must be derivedfrom context’.47To Augustine’s great credit, virtually everything in his thought ‘standstogether and holds together’.48However, unfortunately for his readers, theresulting monolith is such that even Augustine himself ‘cannot lay hold of onelink in the chain without drawing the whole chain’,49and one ‘who tries toexamine it link by link is in constant danger of putting too much strain uponit and breaking it wherever he sets a provisional limit’.50Attempting to5Saint Augustine and the Just-War TraditionMattox, John Mark. Saint Augustine and the Theory of Just War, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2006. ProQuestEbook Central, .Created from clevelandstate-ebooks on 2018-12-03 16:13:20.
separate out the intricately interrelated ideas that constitute what has come tobe called the ‘Augustinian complex’ of doctrines is like trying to separate thestrands of a spider’s web: it can be done if great care is exercised, but notwithout the risk of doing damage to the whole. This problem applies not onlyto any attempt to systematize Augustine’s just-war theory, but also to Augus-tine’s writings in general – and indeed, to the writings of those philosophicalfigures later inﬂuenced by Augustinism. As Gilson observes, ‘it is a persistentfact in the history of philosophy that doctrines wherein Augustine’s inspirationpredominates do not readily lend themselves to synthetic exposition’.51‘Digres-sion’, he adds, ‘is Augustinism’s natural method. The natural order of an Augustin-ian doctrine is to branch out around one center.’52Often in the same passage – evenin the same sentence – Augustine is prone to explore multiple themes, or thesame theme from multiple perspectives, thus making the resulting mosaic onewith which the beholder is reluctant to tamper. Nonetheless, if one is willingto venture, ‘Augustine’s spontaneous reactions, . . . as they appear at randomin his sermons and letters, will often provide us with material that throws quiteas vivid a light on his basic assumptions as do his professed formulations ofpolitical theory.’53Augustinian prioritiesAugustine the just-war thinker is also Augustine the philosopher and theolo-gian – although it is often difficult to tell from which vantage point he iswriting at any given time. However, one must continually bear in mind thatAugustine the philosopher and theologian is, first and always, a rhetoricianand skilled polemicist. Hence, his points are often made in the form of refut-