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No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Greek box mirror, fourth century BCE. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Is

Eudo, tricked by the Devil, “left no good deed unpunished, no bad one unrewarded."—Gualterius Mappus, De nugis curialium (twelfth century CE)*



Eudo (Odo), Walter says, deceived by Satan,

got his morality back to front

punishing good deeds, wherever found, rewarding bad—

though naturally we must believe, so Aquinas tells us,

that it’s the other way around that’s sound.

But what if the duke of Aquitaine, not Saint Thomas, had it right?

Perhaps Satan rules our world, and suffering’s what earns its GPP.†

Rewarding good would then make scant sense economically.

That also seems to be the policy of today's GOP.

Its brains are doubtless better tuned‡ than those of you and me!


*Walter Map (1130 – ca. 1210), De nugis curialium [Of the trifles of courtiers], trans. Monague R.  James, ed. E. Sidney Hartland,  Cymmrodorion Record Series, no. 9, 181.

†Gross Planetary Product.

‡Some parapsychologists speculate that a “non-local force," received by the brain, but not generated by it, “pervades the universe, like electromagnetism” (


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