Gesta Romanorum Vol. I (1871)/Of Reconciliation between God and Man



The Roman annals say, such discord existed between two brothers, that one of them maliciously laid waste the lands of the other. The emperor Julius (37) having heard of this, determined to punish the offender capitally. The latter, therefore, understanding what was meditated, went to the brother whom he had injured, and besought forgiveness; at the same time requesting that he would screen him from the emperor's vengeance. But they who were present at the interview, rebuked him, and declared that he deserved punishment not pardon. To which he made the following reply. "That prince is not worthy of regard who in war assumes the gentleness of a lamb, but in peace puts on the ferocity of a lion[1]. Although my brother should not incline towards me, yet will I endeavour to conciliate him. For the injury I did him is sufficiently avenged in my repentance and bitterness of heart." This view of the case appeased the emperor, and restored peace between himself and his brother.


My beloved, these two brothers are the sons of God and man; between whom there is discord as often as man commits a mortal sin. The emperor is God.

  1. "In peace there's nothing so becomes a man,
    As modest stillness and humility:
    But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
    Then imitate the action of the tiger."

    Shakspeare, Hen. V. Act III. Sc. 1.

Note 37.Page 146.

"The emperor Julius."

"We must not forget that there was the romance of Julius Cæsar. And I believe Antony and Cleopatra were more known characters in the dark ages, than is commonly supposed. Shakspeare is thought to have formed his play on this story from North's translation of Amyot's unauthentic French Plutarch, published in London in 1579."

From such sources, in all probability, the monks derived the little they knew of the Gesta Romanorum.