When Alexander the Great Captured an Insignificant Pirate

As you probably noticed the tagline on this blog comes from Augustine of Hippo or Saint Augustine, an early Christian theolog and philosopher.

Augustine of Hippo Caravaggio
Augustine of Hippo by Caravaggio


In the 5th century AD he wrote De Civitate Dei contra Paganos, translated into English as The City of Gods Against the Pagans. According to Wikipedia this book was a response to allegations that Christianity had brought about the decline of Rome and is considered one of Augustine’s most important works. The City of God is a cornerstone of Western thought, expounding on many profound questions of theology, such as the suffering of the righteous, the existence of evil, the conflict between free will, divine omniscience and the doctrine of original sin.

In the City of God, St. Augustine tells the story of a pirate captured by Alexander the Great, who asked him “how dare he molest the sea”. “How dare you molest the whole world” the pirate replied. “Because I do it with a little ship only, I am called a thief; you, doing it with a great navy, are called an emperor”.

Fast forward now 15 centuries to the present and think about what has happened to us?