Distinctions of St. Ambrose:
Place of BirthTrier
Offices St. Ambrose Held:
Controveries / Heresies:
Writings of St. Ambrose:
Louis J. Swift says Ambrose was the first to formulate a Christian ethic of war, believing wars against barbarians were just because they safeguarded Christianity and protected the Empire, but civil wars and usurpations were not. Wars should be defensive, agreements honored, and fairness and mercy observed.
"Now let us discuss fortitude, which (being a loftier virtue than the rest) is divided into two parts, as it concerns matters of war and matters at home. But the thought of warlike matters seems to be foreign to the duty of our office, for we have our thoughts fixed more on the duty of the soul than on that of the body; nor is it our business to look to arms, but rather to the affairs of peace. Our fathers, however, as Joshua, the son of Nun, Juerubbaal, Samson, and David, gained great glory also in war.Ambrose praised as an act of virtue Moses' slaying of the Egyptian overseer.
177. David never waged war unless he was driven to it. Thus prudence was combined in him with fortitude in the battle. For even when about to fight single-handed against Goliath, the enormous giant, he rejected the armour with which he was laden. His strength depended more on his own arm than on the weapons of others. Then, at a distance, to get a stronger throw, with one cast of a stone, he slew his enemy. After that he never entered on a war without seeking counsel of the Lord. Thus he was victorious in all wars, and even to his last years was ready to fight. And when war arose with the Philistines, he joined battle with their fierce troops, being desirous of winning renown, while careless of his own safety. "
From On the Duties of the Clergy Book I at New Advent and Ambrose Selected Works and Letters at CCEL which notes a passage from Cicero De Officiis 1.18.61 for comparison:
"We must realize, however, that while we bave set down four cardinal virtues from which as sources moral rectitude and moral duty emanate, that achievement is most glorious in the eyes of the world which is won with a spirit great, exalted, and superior to the vicissitudes of earthly life."
"St. Ambrose on Violence and War," by
Louis J. Swift;
Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association , Vol. 101, (1970), pp. 533-543.
St. Ambrose Quotes.
"The Classical Latin Quotations in the Letters of St. Ambrose," by Sister Charles and Saint Ambrose; Greece & Rome , Second Series, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Oct., 1968), pp. 186-197.