Augustine—The City of God
Book IV, Chapter 4.
How Like Kingdoms Without Justice are to Robberies.
Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great
robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band
itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit
together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed
on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree
that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues
peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality
is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by
the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given
to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had
asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he
answered with bold pride, What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because
I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you who does it with a
great fleet are styled emperor.