Ambrose on, uh, the church?

And so Christ feeds his church with these sacraments, by which the soul’s substance is made strong. And seeing that her grace’s boundaries are extending, he says to her, How beautiful are your breasts, my sister, my bride! How beautiful they are made from the wine, and the scent of your clothes surpasses all spices. Your lips are a dripping honeycomb, my bride, honey and milk lie under your tongue, and the scent of your clothes is like the scent of Lebanon. An enclosed garden, my sister, my bride, an enclosed garden, a sealed fountain [Song of Songs 4.10–12]. Which means that the mystery should remain sealed in you, so that it is not violated by the deeds of an evil life, by infidelity against your chastity, and so that it is not made known to those for whom it is not suitable, nor spread among the faithless by babbling chatter.

His igitur sacramentis pascit Ecclesiam suam Christus, quibus animae firmatur substantia: meritoque videns profectum ejus gratiae continentem, dicit ad eam: Quam decora facta sunt ubera tua, soror mea sponsa! Quam decora facta sunt a vino: et odor vestimentorum tuorum super omnia aromata! Favus distillans labia tua, o sponsa, mel et lac sub lingua tua, et odor vestimentorum tuorum sicut odor Libani. Hortus conclusus, soror mea sponsa, hortus conclusus, fons signatus. Quo significat signatum debere apud te manere mysterium, ne violetur operibus malae vitae, atque adulterio castitatis, ne divulgetur quibus non convenit, ne garrula loquacitate dispergatur in perfidos.

—Ambrose, De mysteriis 55

Uh, sure, dude. You need a glass of water?

Jerome on Naval Warfare

Those who fight in naval combat turn their rudders, draw out their oars, and prepare their iron grapples and hooks beforehand in port. They arrange the soldiers on the decks and get them used to standing with smooth footing even on a slippery surface. They do this so that what they have learned in a practice fight they do not fear in a real battle. So it is with me.

Qui navali praelio dimicaturi sunt, ante in portu et in tranquillo mari flectunt gubernacula, remos trahunt, ferreas manus, et uncos praeparant, dispositumque per tabulata militem, pendente gradu, et labente vestigio stare firmiter assuescunt, ut quod in simulacro pugnae didicerint, in vero certamine non pertimiscant. Ita et ego.

—Jerome, Vita Malchi monachi captivi 1

Julian Bribes(?) His Soldiers

I ask you to lay off being angry for a little bit. You’ll get what you’re asking for without sedition or your passion for revolution. Since the sweetness of your homeland holds you back, and since you’re afraid of unusual and foreign places, go back at once to your homes. You’ll see nothing–because it displeases you–past the Alps. I will clear this up with the emperor to his satisfaction, as he is capable of reason and quite prudent.

Cesset ira quaeso paulisper: absque dissensione vel rerum adpetitu novarum impetrabitur facile quod postulatis. Quoniam dulcedo vos patriae retinet, et insueta peregrinaque metuitis loca, redite iam nunc ad sedes nihil visuri, quia displicet, transalpinum. hocque apud Augustum capacem rationis et prudentissimum ego conpetenti satisfactione purgabo.

—Ammianus Marcellinus, Res gestae 20.4.16

In context, Julian is giving the soldiers exactly what he wants, but I can’t help but detect a touch of sarcasm or guilt-tripping here…

Sulpicius Severus on Military Hardship

But when the emperors ordered that the sons of veterans be enrolled in the military, he was captured and put in chains after his father informed against him (his father looked askance at his blessed activities), and he was tangled up in military oaths and remained content with only a single servant as his companion.

sed cum edictum esset a regibus, ut veteranorum filii ad militiam scriberentur, prodente patre, qui felicibus eius actibus invidebat, cum esset annorum quindecim, captus et catenatus sacramentis militaribus implicatus est, uno tantum servo comite contentus.

—Sulpicius Severus, Vita Sancti Martini 2.5

Jerome on Beginnings

What, then, should I do? I cannot satisfy and I dare not deny. I am an unskilled passenger put in charge of a freight ship; I am a man who has not yet commanded a rowboat and is entrusted to the crashing of the Euxine Sea. Now, with the land fading, “sky on every side, and on every side the sea,” now a shadowy wave rises up, and in a night gloomy with rainclouds, foamy surges grow white. You urge me to hoist my swelling sails, to loosen the halyards, to take the helm.

I submit to your demands. And because love has power over all things, I will entrust my course to the Holy Spirit as my guide, and will have this as my solace, whatever my lot. If the sea-swell pushes me into wished-for ports, I will be considered an inferior pilot; if my unrefined way of speaking instead puts us in the choppy channels of speaking, you may perhaps question my ability, but you certainly will not be able to criticize my intent.

Quid igitur faciam? quod implere non possum, negare non audeo. Super onerariam navem rudis vector imponor. Et homo, qui necdum scalmum in lacu rexi, Euxini maris credor fragoribus. Nunc mihi evanescentibus terris, “coelum undique et undique pontus” [Virg. Aen. 5.9]: nunc unda tenebris inhorrescit, et caeca nocte nimborum spumei fluctus canescunt. Hortaris, ut tumida malo vela suspendam, rudentes explicem, clavum regam.

Pareo iam iubenti, et quia caritas omnia potest, Spiritu Sancto cursum prosequente confidam, habiturus in utraque parte solatium; si me ad optatos portus aestus impulerit, gubernator putabor infirmior; si inter asperos orationis anfractus impolitus sermo substiterit, facultatem forsitan quaeras, voluntatem certe flagitare non poteris.

—Jerome, Epistulae 1.2

Cassius Dio on a Saturnalian Moment

At the same time, Aulus Plautius, a very notable senator, went to campaign in Britain, as a certain Bericus pulled out of the island on account of a rebellion and persuaded Claudius to send him some forces. So Plautius took command of his army, but marched with difficulty out of Gaul, as they were displeased about going to war beyond the known world. They did not obey him until Narcissus, who had been sent by Claudius, got up onto Plautius’ platform wanting to give some speech. Then they were so greatly aggrieved by this that they did not let him say anything, and shouted together in a babble that famous saying “Io! Saturnalia!”, since in the Kronia, slaves take on the appearance of masters and celebrate the festival, and right away they became obedient to Plautius.

κατὰ δὲ τὸν αὐτὸν τοῦτον χρόνον Αὖλος Πλαύτιος βουλευτὴς λογιμώτατος ἐς τὴν Βρεττανίαν ἐστράτευσε· Βέρικος γάρ τις ἐκπεσὼν ἐκ τῆς νήσου κατὰ στάσιν ἔπεισε τὸν Κλαύδιον δύναμιν ἐς αὐτὴν πέμψαι. Καὶ οὕτως ὁ Πλαύτιος στρατηγήσας τὸ μὲν στράτευμα χαλεπῶς ἐκ τῆς Γαλατίας ἐξήγαγεν· ὡς γὰρ ἔξω τῆς οἰκουμένης στρατεύσοντες ἠγανάκτουν, καὶ οὐ πρότερόν γε αὐτῷ ἐπείσθησαν πρὶν τὸν Νάρκισσον ὑπὸ τοῦ Κλαυδίου πεμφθέντα ἀναβῆναί τε ἐπὶ τὸ τοῦ Πλαυτίου βῆμα καὶ δημηγορῆσαί τι ἐθελῆσαι τότε γὰρ πολλῷ που μᾶλλον ἐπ’αὐτῷ ἀχθεσθέντες οὔτε τι ἐκείνῳ εἰπεῖν ἐπέτρεψαν, συμβοήσαντες ἐξαίφνης τοῦτο δὴ τὸ θρυλούμενον « ἰὼ σατουρνάλια, » ἐπειδήπερ ἐν τοῖς Κρονίοις οἱ δοῦλοι τὸ τῶν δεσποτῶν σχῆμα μεταλαμβάνοντες ἑορτάζουσι, καὶ τῷ Πλαυτίῳ εὐθὺς ἑκούσιοι συνέσποντο.

—Cassius Dio, Historia romana 60.19.3