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I’m currently doing a read through of “On Kingship” (De Regno) by St. Thomas Aquinas. In paragraph 8, he cites Ecclesiastes 4:9 as saying

With this in mind, Solomon says [Eccl. 4:9]: “Where there is no governor, the people shall fall.”

I went to lookup this verse in my Bible but it wasn’t there. On closer inspection, the best candidate I could find is Proverbs 11:14, which states:

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (ESV)

Oddly, the only translation I can find that says “governors” is the Douay-Rheims translation.

So given this, why does St. Thomas cite Ecclesiastes 4:9 when he’s obviously referring to Proverbs 11:14, and does the latin vulgate play a part in this as that’s where the D-R draws from?

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    To be precise, Aquinas only cites Solomon not a particular book or verse. The Latin text doesn't refer to a book by name. That must have been supplied by the translator or editor of your copy
    – eques
    Aug 9, 2023 at 13:08

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In the 1982 edition of St. Thomas Aquinas's On Kingship translated by Gerald B. Phelan revised by I. Th. Eschmann, O.P. (as part of the Mediaeval Sources in Translation series) your sentence from paragraph 8 ends with a footnote to Prov 11:14 (see page 6):

In like manner, the body of a man or any other animal would disintegrate unless there were a general ruling force within the body which watches over the common good of all members. -- With this in mind, Solomon says: "Where there is no governor, the people shall fall." [footnote 7: Prov. xi, 14]

In the ESV translation, Proverbs 11 falls under the section Proverbs 10-24 titled "The Proverbs of Solomon" see pericope title for Prov. 10. This section is followed by another section "More Proverbs of Solomon" (Prov. 25-29). Therefore, Aquinas's attribution to Solomon is correct.

As for "governor" and the Latin Vulgate, you are correct that there seems to be a strong link (see Prov. 11 side by side Vulgate and D-R here):

Latin Vulgate:

Ubi non est gubernator, populus corruet; salus autem, ubi multa consilia.

D-R:

Where there is no governor, the people shall fall: but there is safety where there is much counsel.

Naturally, the translator for "On Kingship" would use D-R since Aquinas must have used the Vulgate.

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  • So it must just be my specific book that cites Ecclesiastes 4:9. interesting.
    – Luke Hill
    Aug 8, 2023 at 16:02
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    @LukeHill It appears to be. I trust the edition cited in my answer because it seems to be a scholarly edition. The footnote may not be in the original Latin written by Aquinas. Aug 8, 2023 at 16:04
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    @LukeHill You inspired me to ask this question. Aug 8, 2023 at 16:24

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