St. Thomas Aquinas: Philosophical Texts

St. Thomas Aquinas: Philosophical Texts

St. Thomas Aquinas: Philosophical Texts

St. Thomas Aquinas: Philosophical Texts

Excerpt

Few voluminous writers have been less autobiographical than St. Thomas. An impersonal and self-effacing disposition is suggested but not much more of his character, except that he was singularly free from bad temper in controversy, took an interest in everything, found nothing incongruous in the works of nature, and combined an immense reverence for his predecessors with an originality eased, and perhaps sometimes disguised, by the traditional phrases he adopted. He was, however, a famous figure among his contemporaries and greatly loved, seemingly more by the arts students than the divinity professors. A giant of a man, with a complexion compared to corn, large regular features and a steady gaze, he was lordly yet gentle of bearing; frightened only of thunderstorms. The tales of his absent-mindedness testify to his powers of abstraction: that he was remote and ineffectual is not confirmed by the consultative demands made on him by rulers of Church and State, nor by his interests when he lay dying -- a treatise on aqueducts, a commentary on the Song of Songs, and a dish of herrings.

He was born in the castle near Aquino commanding the Liri Valley. His family, probably of Lombard origin, was related by service, and probably by marriage, to the Hohenstaufens. His mother, it has been said, was of Norman stock. The influence of his people, though considerable, was uneasy in those marches between the Patrimony of Peter and the Kingdom of Sicily; its allegiance was not to be easily settled in the imbroglios of Papalists, Suabians, and Angevins. He was sent to the neighbouring Abbey of Monte Cassino . . .

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