ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf


272. Life and Works. -- Thomas, a child of the illustrious family of the counts of Aquin, was born in 1225{1} at Rocca Secca. He commenced his early education at Monte Cassino. He completed it at Naples in a school (founded by Frederick II. in 1224) where he had for masters Petrus Martinus and Petrus de Hibernia. Entering the order of St. Dominic at Naples (1243), he set out in 1245 for the convent of Cologne and henceforth his life was closely bound up with that of Albert the Great. He followed his master to Paris in 1245 or 1246, then back to Cologne in 1248 (cf. 235, n.). In 1252 the general of the order called Thomas to teach at Paris. This was the period of his public lectures, first as bachelor, afterwards as master. It was likewise the period of his first vindication of the rights of the mendicant orders, and of his polemic against William of St. Amour. The official recognition of his title of Magister in 1257 (and of that of St. Bonaventure, cf. 253) put an end to the opposition aroused against the regulars by the secular theologians. In 1260 or 1261, Thomas was summoned to Italy either as Magister Sacri Palatii or professor at the Studium Curiae, founded in 1243 at the papal court. He resided at Rome and perhaps at other towns of Italy, making the acquaintance of William of Moerbeke, and forming (1260) a close friendship with Reginald. Thomas returned a second time as professor to the Parisian schools in the end of 1268 or beginning of 1269: this exceptional return to the Paris monastery can be accounted for only by the great repute in which he was held, and the serious character of the doctrinal controversies{2} which were being then carried on at the University. Thomas set himself to combat the Averroïsm of Siger of Brabant on the one hand, and on the other to meet the new attacks of Gerard of Abbeville and Nicholas of Lisieux on the rights of the mendicant orders. When he retired to Italy for a second time (1272), at the call of his superiors, his withdrawal occasioned deep regret in the University circles of Philosophy and Arts. The masters of the Faculty inform us that Thomas, when leaving, promised to send them certain philosophical works, which he had planned or in preparation. Of these the De Coelo et Mundo alone has come down to us.{3} In vain did the rector and masters of the Faculty endeavour to secure the return of Thomas, who was commissioned to organize a Studium Generale at Naples, probably at the instance of King Charles of Anjou. St. Thomas died in 1274, at the age of forty-eight years, on his way to Lyons, whither Gregory X. had summoned him to assist by his great talents at the work of the General Council.

The following is a classification of the works{4} that bear the name of St. Thomas: --

First sojourn in Paris: De Ente et Essentia (first work, towards 1252); De Principiis Naturae; Contra Impugnantes Dei Cultum (1257, reply to the De Periculis Novissimi Temporis of W. of St. Amour); Commentary on the Four Books of the Sentences (his lectures as bachelor at Paris); De Veritate; Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew (about 1258).

First sojourn in Italy: Catena Aurea; Office of the Blessed Sacrament (1264); Summa contra Gentiles (completed at Rome, 1264); Contra Graecos et Saracenos; Quaestiones Disputatae: De Malo; De Anima; De Virtutibus; De Unione Verbi Incarnati; De Spiritualibus Creaturis (the De Veritate belongs to an earlier, the De Potentia Dei, to a later date); Commentaries on the Physics, Metaphysics and Ethics of Aristotle; Summa Theologica (commenced about 1265; continued to the end of his life; left unfinished by him: the final portion, Pars Tertia, stops at Question 90; a supplement, completing the work, was compiled by an unknown author from the Commentaries of St. Thomas on the 4th Book of the Sentences, and has been always annexed to the various editions of the Summa. The names of Peter of Auvergne and Albert of Brixia are mentioned in connection with it. See Quetif-Echard, Scriptores, i. pp. 291 sqq.); numerous Opuscula written at the request of correspondents, such as: De Regimine Principis (of which the last two books are not authentic); De Regimine Judaeorum (a letter to the Duchess of Brabant); De Judiciis Astrorum, De Occultis Operibus Naturae. There are in all about forty authentic Opuscula; needless to mention all here.

Second sojourn at Paris: De Perfectione Vitae Spiritualis contra Doctrinam Retrahentium a Religione (1270); De Anima Intellectiva (1270, against Siger of Brabant); De Unitate Intellectus contra Averroïstas; numerous Commentaries on the Scriptures; Quaestiones Disputatae: De Potentia, De Spiritualibus Creaturis; Disputationes de Quolibet; Commentaries on the De Interpretatione (incomplete), Analytica Posteriora, De Coelo et Mundo (commenced at Paris: authentic only as far as L. III., 1. 8) and De Causis of Aristotle.

Second sojourn in Italy: Commentaries on the Scriptures; on the books of Boëthius, De Hebdomadibus and De Trinitate; on the De Divinis Nominibus of Pseudo-Denis; on the De Generatione et Corruptione and the Politics of Aristotle (of the latter the first two books and the first eight chapters of the third book are authentic: the remainder doubtful).

No certain date can be fixed for the Commentaries on the De Anima (according to the catalogue of Baluzius, the first book does not belong to St. Thomas), the Parve Naturalia, the De Substantiis Separatis (incomplete); the Compendium Theologiae (incomplete) dedicated to Reginald; the De Aeternitate Mundi; the De Principio Individuationis.

Doubtful and non-authentic works: De Pulchro et Bono, the commentary on the De Nominibus Divinis of Pseudo-Denis, Totius Logicae Summa, an interrupted commentary on the Sentences, De Potentiis Animae, De Nature Syllogismi, De Inventione Medii, De Demonstratione, De Nature Accidentis, De Nature Generis, De Pluralitate Formarum (different treatises on forms have been falsely attributed to St. Thomas), De Intellectu et Intelligibili, De Universalibus, Eruditio Principum, De Professione Monachorum, De Usuris. Later on several compendiums were drawn up by his disciples from the authentic doctrine of the master, and given to the world under the name of St. Thomas.{5}

Here are a few leading facts upon the chronology -- as yet ill-defined -- of St. Thomas's works: The Commentaries on the Sentences constitute his first great work. They are subsequent perhaps to the De Ente et Essentia and De Principiis Naturae (about 1248-1252), which would date from his stay at Cologne. The Summa contra Gentiles was begun at Paris (first sojourn). The De Substentiis Seperatis is not earlier than 1260. From 1265-1268 dates the writing of the Prima of the Summa Theol.; 1261-1264, Quaestio Disputatae de Anima. From his second stay at Paris date the De Spiritual. Creaturis; Quodlibeta (the first dates from 1269). From 1270 dates the treatise De Perfectione Vitae Spiritualis. The De Coelo et Mundo is subsequent to 1270.{6} The two Summae, the Quaestiones Disputatae, the Quodlibeta, some of Opuscula and the Commentaries on Aristotle, have a special interest for the historian of philosophy.

{1} Others give 1226 or 1227. The place of his birth is disputed. Rocca Secca and Belcastro contend for the honour. In favour of Rocca Secca, v. PELLEGRINI and SCANDONE, Pro Roccasecca, patria di S. Tommaso d'Aquino, Napoli, 1903. Scandone has published a genealogy of the family of Aquin. From the same author: Documente e Congetture sulla famiglia e sulla patria di S. T., Napoli, 1901. Cf. P. DE GROOT, op. cit., 310.

{2} MANDONNET, op. cit., pp. cii and ciii.

{3} Chartul., i., pp. 504, 505. Cf. MANDONNET, p. ccxvi. The De Coelo et Mundo was completed by, or under the direction of, Peter of Auvergne, master of the Faculty.

{4} We give them according to the chronology adopted by P. DE GROOT, Het Levin van den hl. Thomas, 1907.

{5} The catalogue of Baluzius quotes some works which are not authentic, but drawn up from the saint's lectures or sermons (alii recollegerunt post eum legentem vel praedicantem): Lectura super Paulum ab XI cap. 1ae epist. ad Corinth.; Super Johannem; 5. 4 nocturnos; Collect. de Peter Noster et Credo; de Decem Pracrep tis; S. Matthiam; S. Primum de Anima.

{6} WITTMANN, Die Stellung d. hl. Thom. v. Aquin zu Avencebrol, pp. 31, 38, 68, 71; MANDONNET, op. cit., p. 102; cf JOURDAIN, Philos. S. Thomas, t. i. According to MARCHESI, op. cit., pp. 67, 72, St. Thomas would have written no commentaries on Aristotle prior to 1261.

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