In Augustine's Confessions, I.18, he writes:
et certe non est interior litterarum scientia quam scripta conscientia, id se alteri facere quod nolit pati. quam tu secretus es, habitans in excelsis in silentio, deus solus magnus, lege infatigabili spargens poenales caecitates supra inlicitas cupiditates, cum homo eloquentiae famam quaeritans ante hominem iudicem, circumstante hominum multitudine, inimicum suum odio inmanissimo insectans, vigilantissime cavet, ne per linguae errorem dicat: Inter omines, et ne per mentis furorem hominem auferat ex hominibus non cavet.
The key phrase for my question is translated by Henry Chadwick as follows:
[The speaker] is indifferent to the possibility that the emotional force of his mind may bring about a man's execution.
The same portion is translated a bit differently by Edward Pusey:
[He] takes no heed, lest, through the fury of his spirit, he murder the real human being.
Note the difference between "bring about a man's execution" and "murder the real human being." This may seem inconsequential, but in Christianity, there's a teaching that hatred or anger is akin to murder (see Matthew 5:21–22), which could theoretically allow Pusey's translation to be read as "he sin against the real human being" or "he murder the real human being in his heart."
My question, thus, revolves around this distinction:
- Does the Latin text specifically indicate, or strongly imply, capital punishment as the outcome of the speaker's eloquence?
- Is the physical death of the man clearly indicated?
- Or is a metaphorical interpretation possible or likely?
This question is inspired by an answer to a question regarding Augustine's views on capital punishment. If Chadwick unjustifiably makes the connection to capital punishment, perhaps this passage tells us nothing about Augustine's view of the practice.