Monday, April 13, 2015

Giotto: The Virtues and Vices - Injustice

 Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail.              Proverbs 22:8
I answer that Injustice is twofold. First there is illegal injustice which is opposed to legal justice: and this is essentially a special vice, in so far as it regards a special object, namely the common good which it contemns; and yet it is a general vice, as regards the intention, since contempt of the common good may lead to all kinds of sin. Thus too all vices, as being repugnant to the common good, have the character of injustice, as though they arose from injustice, in accord with what has been said above about justice (58, 5,6). Secondly we speak of injustice in reference to an inequality between one person and another, when one man wishes to have more goods, riches for example, or honors, and less evils, such as toil and losses, and thus injustice has a special matter and is a particular vice opposed to particular justice. Summa 2nd part of the 2nd part, q 59
The acceptance by human society of murderous famines, without efforts to remedy them, is a scandalous injustice and a grave offense. Those whose usurious and avaricious dealings lead to the hunger and death of their brethren in the human family indirectly commit homicide, which is imputable to them. Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2269. 

Injustice also sits in the seat of authority, but there are no scales to balance his judgement. The vicious hook and barbs of his staff are echoed in his fingernails, and even in the cracks in the wall, bringing to mind our idiom, "He had his hooks in him." He appears to me to have a tusk. In his left hand he grips a sword. His eyes looked strange to me and this author says they are covered--I believe they are shut. It's interesting that contrary to our saying that Justice is blind, Giotto depicts Injustice as blind. The above author also mentions that the Virtues look at us, while the Vices avert their gaze, and that Injustice is the only clearly defined male in this series of frescos. I had noticed that some of the figures were definitely female, and some questionable. 

Below this tyrant, the scene is very different scene from that which flourishes beneath the throne of Justice. Rape, pillage and murder hold sway here. The weak have no protection from the strong. Unfortunately, the inscription is all but erased. 

I put that last quote about usurious and avaricious dealings there for a reason which will be clear later in this series of posts.


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