Augustine of Hippo was born in the Roman Province of Numidia (modern Algeria) on 13th November 354 AD. His mother, Monica, was a devout Christian, while his father Patricius was a Pagan. It is believed that his family were Berbers, an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa. (1)
Although the early Christians had been persecuted Emperor Constantine, who was exposed to Christianity by his mother, Helena, had declared religious tolerance for Christianity in the Roman Empire in 313 AD. Ten years later he was a Christian and that Christianity was now the official religion of the empire. More significantly, in 325 AD he summoned the Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical council. Constantine thus established a precedent for the emperor as responsible to God for the spiritual health of their subjects, and thus with a duty to maintain orthodoxy. (2)
Augustine's father owned a few acres and a couple of slaves. The family lived in an inland hill town called Thagaste. (3) Augustine received his early education from his mother. He later pointed out that he learnt Latin, painlessly, at his mother's knee, but hated Greek, which they tried to teach him at school, because he was "urged vehemently with cruel threats and punishments". He added "that a free curiously has more power to make us learn these things than a terrifying obligation". (4)
At the age of 11 was sent to school at Madaurus, a small Numidian city. He admitted: "I had no love of learning, and hated to be driven to it. Yet I was driven to it just the same, and good was done for me, even though I did not do it well, for I would not have learned if I had not been forced to it. For no man does well against his will, even if what he does is a good thing." (5)
He received an education in Latin literature, as well as pagan beliefs and practices. In his autobiography, The Confessions, he recalls an incident where he and some friends stole fruit they did not want from a neighborhood garden. "There was a pear tree close to our own vineyard, heavily laden with fruit, which was not tempting either for its colour or for its flavor. Late one night having prolonged our games in the streets until then, as our bad habit was a group of young scoundrels, and I among them, went to shake and rob this tree. We carried off a huge load of pears, not to eat ourselves, but to dump out to the hogs, after barely tasting some of them ourselves. Doing this pleased us all the more because it was forbidden... I loved my error - not that for which I erred but the error itself. A depraved soul, falling away from security in thee to destruction in itself, seeking nothing from the shameful deed but shame itself." (6)
Monica, Augustine's mother, was a devoted Christian in both faith and practice. She would say her prayers in the local church every day and was often guided by dreams and visions. "As a sceptical teenager he used occasionally to attend church services with her, but found himself mainly engaged in catching the eye of the girls on the other side of the basilica." (7)
In 371 AD he went to Carthage to continue his education in rhetoric. During this period he lived a hedonistic lifestyle despite the warnings of his mother: "Then whose words were they but thine which by my mother, thy faithful handmaid, thou didst pour into my ears? None of them, however, sank into my heart to make me do anything. She deplored and, as I remember, warned me privately with great solicitude, not to commit fornication; but above all things never to defile another man’s wife. These appeared to me but womanish counsels, which I would have blushed to obey... I did not realize this, and rushed on headlong with such blindness that, among my friends, I was ashamed to be less shameless than they, when I heard them boasting of their disgraceful exploits- - yes, and glorying all the more the worse their baseness was. What is worse, I took pleasure in such exploits, not for the pleasure’s sake only but mostly for praise." (8)
Augustine admitted that by the age of sixteen the "madness of lust which... took the rule over me, and I resigned myself wholly to it?" The following year, Augustine began an affair with a young woman in Carthage. The woman remained his lover for over fifteen years and in 372 AD she gave birth to his son Adeodatus: "In those years I had a mistress, to whom I was not joined in lawful marriage. She was a woman I had discovered in my wayward passion, void as it was of understanding, yet she was the only one; and I remained faithful to her and with her I discovered, by my own experience, what a great difference there is between the restraint of the marriage bond contracted with a view to having children and the compact of a lustful love, where children are born against the parents’ will - although once they are born they compel our love." (9)
Augustine became very interested in Stoicism a school of philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. Zeno divided philosophy into three parts: Logic, Physics and Ethics, the end goal of which was to achieve happiness through the right way of living. Stoicism is predominantly a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world, and was greatly influenced by the teachings of Socrates. For example, he said: "I spend all my time going about trying to persuade you, young and old, to make your first and chief concern not for your bodies nor for your possessions, but for the highest welfare of your souls, proclaiming as I go, wealth does not bring goodness, but goodness brings wealth and every other blessing, both to the individual and to the state." He added that Athenians should be "ashamed that you give your attention to acquiring as much money as possible, and similarly with reputation and honour, and give no attention or thought to truth and understanding and the perfection of your soul". (10)
Augustine was particularly interested in Stoic logic and ethical assertions. According to Socrates, as social beings, the path to happiness for humans is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or fear of pain, by using one's mind to understand the world and to do one's part in nature's plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly. Stoics thought the best indication of an individual's philosophy was not what a person said, but how a person behaved. (11)
Augustine also found the ideas of Seneca interesting. Seneca believed that the one and only good thing in life, the "supreme ideal" is virtue. This is usually summarized in ancient philosophy as a combination of four qualities: wisdom (or moral insight), courage, self-control and justice. It enables a man to be "self-sufficient" and therefore immune to suffering. It has been pointed out the "target" Stocism set was far too high for ordinary men and helped to explain "its failure to influence the masses". (12)
Seneca wrote about the way that the The Roman Empire should be ruled appeared in his famous essay, On Clemency (c. A.D. 56), where he urged Emperor Nero to be a tolerant ruler: "That clemency, which is the most humane of virtues, is that which best befits a man, is necessarily an axiom, not only among our own sect, which regards man as a social animal, born for the good of the whole community, but even among those philosophers who give him up entirely to pleasure, and whose words and actions have no other aim than their own personal advantage. If man, as they argue, seeks for quiet and repose, what virtue is there which is more agreeable to his nature than clemency, which loves peace and restrains him from violence? Now clemency becomes no one more than a king or a prince; for great power is glorious and admirable only when it is beneficent; since to be powerful only for mischief is the power of a pestilence. That man's greatness alone rests upon a secure foundation, whom all men know to be as much on their side as he is above them, of whose watchful care for the safety of each and all of them they receive daily proofs, at whose approach they do not fly in terror, as though some evil and dangerous animal had sprung out from its den, but flock to him as they would to the bright and health-giving sunshine." (13)
Seneca also called on citizens to treat their slaves well: "A proposal was once made in the Senate to distinguish slaves from free men by their dress: it was then discovered how dangerous it would be for our slaves to be able to count our numbers. Be assured that the same thing would be the case if no one's offence is pardoned: it will quickly be discovered how far the number of bad men exceeds that of the good. Many executions are as disgraceful to a sovereign as many funerals are to a physician: one who governs less strictly is better obeyed. The human mind is naturally self-willed, kicks against the goad, and sets its face against authority; it will follow more readily than it can be led. As well-bred and high-spirited horses are best managed with a loose rein, so mercy gives men's minds a spontaneous bias towards innocence, and the public think that it is worth observing. Mercy, therefore, does more good than severity." (14)
In about 64 AD Seneca produced On Providence, a short essay in the form of a dialogue with his great friend, Lucilius. He chose the dialogue form to deal with the problem of the co-existence of the Stoic design of providence with the evil in the world. "You have asked me, Lucilius, why, if the world be ruled by providence, so many evils befall good men? The answer to this would be more conveniently given in the course of this work, after we have proved that providence governs the universe, and that God is amongst us: but, since you wish me to deal with one point apart from the whole, and to answer one replication before the main action has been decided, I will do what is not difficult, and plead the cause of the gods." (15)
Seneca explains t hat looks like adversity is in fact a means by which the man exerts his virtues. As such, he can come out of the ordeal stronger than before. "Prosperity comes to the mob, and to low-minded men as well as to great ones; but it is the privilege of great men alone to send under the yoke the disasters and terrors of mortal life: whereas to be always prosperous, and to pass through life without a twinge of mental distress, is to remain ignorant of one half of nature. You are a great man; but how am I to know it, if fortune gives you no opportunity of showing your virtue? God, I say, favours those whom He wishes to enjoy the greatest honours, whenever He affords them the means of performing some exploit with spirit and courage, something which is not easily to be accomplished: you can judge of a pilot in a storm, of a soldier in a battle. How can I know with how great a spirit you could endure poverty, if you overflow with riches? How can I tell with how great firmness you could bear up against disgrace, dishonour, and public hatred, if you grow old to the sound of applause, if popular favour cannot be alienated from you, and seems to flow to you by the natural bent of men's minds?" (16)
It has been argued that some of Seneca's writings bordered on the religious. Robin Campbell has argued: "Christian writers have not been slow to recognize the remarkable close parallels between isolated sentences in Seneca's writings and verses of the Bible... In statements of man's kinship with a beneficent, even loving god and of a belief in conscience as the divinely inspired 'inner light of the spirit', his attitudes are religious beyond anything in Roman state religion, in his day little more than a withered survival of formal worship paid to a host of ancient gods and goddesses... On the other hand the word 'God' or 'the gods' was used by the philosophers more as a time-honoured and convenient expression than as standing for any indispensable or even surely identifiable component of the Stoic system." (17)
Despite his interest in Stoics like Seneca as a young man he allied himself with the Manichees. The founder of this religion was the prophet, Mani, who had been crucified in Persia in 277 AD. Mani was raised in a Jewish-Christian baptism sect. Manichaean writings indicate that Mani received revelations when he was 12 and again when he was 24, and over this time period he grew dissatisfied with the sect he was born into. "Mani did not entirely reject Christianity, but since he held that its teaching was only partially true, but supplemented it by borrowing from other religious and adding his own theories." (18)
The Manichees regarded "the lower half of the body" as the disgusting work of the devil. Mani denied any authority to the Old Testament with its presupposition of the goodness of the material order of things. He much more preferred the New Testament but rejected orthodox Christianity for being too exclusive and negative towards other religious myths and forms of worship. He understood Jesus as a symbol of the plight of all humanity rather than as a historical person. The "crucifixion was no kind of actuality but a mere symbol of the suffering which is the universal human condition." (19)
The religion of Mani's followers, included disgust at the physical world and especially at the human reproductive system. "Procreation imprisoned divine souls in matter, which is inherently hostile to goodness and light. Manichees had a vegetarian diet, and forbade wine. Melons and cucumbers were deemed to contain a particularly large ingredient of divinity. There were two classes, Elect who were strictly obliged to be celibate, and Hearers allowed wives or concubines as long as they avoided procreating children, whether by contraceptives or by confining intercourse to the 'safe' period of the monthly cycle.... Manichee propaganda was combative against the orthodox Catholic Church, which granted married Christians." (20)
Augustine was also attracted to Mani's belief in astrology, which seemed to offer a guide to life without looking too much like a religion. The central question for Mani was the origin of evil. He explained evil as resulting from a primeval and still continuing cosmic conflict between Light and Dark. However, he gradually had doubts about the intellectual basis of the religion. Was Mani right when he asserted that the supremely good Light-power was weak and impotent in conflict with Dark? How could one properly worship a diety so powerless and humiliated? Mani also explained eclipses, by claiming that the sun and the moon were using special veils to shut out the distressing sight of cosmic battles. Augustine was aware that astronomers rejected this theory. Augustine also became disillusioned with the religion when he discovered that the moral life of the Elect, who argued for sinless perfection, turned out to be less celibate than they claimed. (21)
Augustine became very interested in philosophy after reading the work of Cicero and became a teacher of the subject: "I studied the books of eloquence, for it was in eloquence that I was eager to be eminent, though from a reprehensible and vainglorious motive, and a delight in human vanity. In the ordinary course of study I came upon a certain book of Cicero’s, whose language almost all admire, though not his heart. This particular book of his contains an exhortation to philosophy and was called Hortensius. Now it was this book which quite definitely changed my whole attitude and turned my prayers toward thee, O Lord, and gave me new hope and new desires. Suddenly every vain hope became worthless to me, and with an incredible warmth of heart I yearned for an immortality of wisdom and began now to arise that I might return to thee. It was not to sharpen my tongue further that I made use of that book. I was now nineteen; my father had been dead two years, and my mother was providing the money for my study of rhetoric. What won me in it was not its style but its substance." (22)
Augustine was attracted to the ideas expressed by Cicero in his work, On Friendship: "Friendship is nothing else than an accord in all things, human and divine, conjoined with mutual goodwill and affection, and I am inclined to think that, with the exception of wisdom, no better thing has been given to man by the immortal gods. Some prefer riches, some good health, some power, some public honours, and many even prefer sensual pleasures. This last is the highest aim of brutes; the others are fleeting and unstable things and dependent less upon human foresight than upon the fickleness of fortune." (23)
He also read the work of Virgil, Horace, Sallust and Terence. "Cicero's prose and Virgil's poetry were so profoundly stamped on Augustine's mind that he could seldom write many pages without some reminiscence or verbal allusion. In youth he also read with deep admiration Sallust's sombre histories of the Roman Republic and the comedies of Terence. These too were part of the literary air he naturally breathed, and into his prose he would frequently work some turn of phrase from classical Latin literature." (24)
In 383 AD he decided to go to Rome, not, he says, because there the income of a teacher was higher than at Carthage, but because he had heard that classes were more orderly. He established a school in Rome but was disappointed with the apathetic reception. It was the custom for students to pay their fees to the professor on the last day of the term, and many students attended faithfully all term, and then did not pay. (25) The following year he became rhetoric professor at the imperial court at Milan. He had been a supporter of Manichaeanism but began to have doubts after a meeting with Faustus of Mileve, a key exponent of Manichaean theology. One of the reasons for this was his discovery that Faustus was not obeying the rules of celibacy. (26)
Augustine now became interested in the philosophy of Plotinus (204-270 AD), the founder of Neoplatonism, who helped to clarify the teaching of Plato. The metaphysics of Plotinus begins with a Holy Trinity: The One, Spirit and Soul. These three are not equal. The One is supreme, Spirit comes next, and Soul last. The One is sometimes called God, sometimes the Good. Sometimes, the One appears to resemble Aristotle's God, who ignores the created world. "The One is indefinable, and in regard to it there is more truth in silence than in any words whatever." (27)
Plotinus lived an an ascetic life of celibacy and vegetarianism. He argued that the soul's purging could only be achieved only by "flight from the body". By abstinence from meat and from sexual activity, the should could be "gradually emancipated from its bodily fetters". Plotinus, like Cicero, believed that sexual indulgence does not make for mental clarity. Porphyry, a disciple of Plotinus, in a tract on vegetarianism taught that, "just as priests at temples must abstain from sexual intercourse in order to be ritually pure at the time of offering sacrifice, so also the individual soul needs to be equally pure to attain to the vision of God". (28)
Authentic human happiness for Plotinus consists of the true human identifying with that which is the best in the universe. Plotinus was one of the first to introduce the idea that eudaimonia (happiness) is attainable only within consciousness. Plotinus stresses the point that worldly fortune does not control true human happiness, and thus… there exists no single human being that does not either potentially or effectively possess this thing we hold to constitute happiness.” (29)
Real happiness comes from the use of the intellect. The human who has achieved happiness will not be bothered by sickness, discomfort, etc., as his focus is on the greatest things. Authentic human happiness is the result of contemplation and "is determined by the higher phase of the Soul.” (30) Plotinus offers a comprehensive description of his conception of a person who has achieved happiness. A happy person will not sway between happy and sad, because it is a state of mind and is not influenced by the physical world. A living human who has achieved happiness will not change "just because of the body’s discomfort in the physical realm.“ (31)
William Inge argues: "For Plotinus, the course of moral progress begins with the political virtues, which include all the duties of a good citizen; but Plotinus shows no interest in the State as a moral entity. After the political virtues comes purification. The Soul is to put off its lower nature, and to cleanse itself from external stains: that which remains when this is done will be the image of Spirit. Neoplatonism enjoins an ascetic life, but no harsh self-mortification. The conflict with evil is a journey through darkness to light, rather than a struggle with hostile spiritual powers... The desire to be invulnerable underlies all Greek philosophy, and in consequence the need of deep human sympathy is undervalued. The philosopher is not to be perturbed by public or private calamities. Purification leads to the next stage enlightenment. Plotinus puts the philosophic life above active philanthropy, though contemplation for him is incomplete unless it issues in creative activity." (32)
Augustine's mother had followed him to Milan and objected to his relationship with his mistress. Her inferior social status made marriage out of the question in law and in social convention. After the strenuous efforts of his mother, a fiancée, a young girl with a good dowry, was found. However, she was only ten years old and he had to wait two years became in Roman law the minimum age of marriage was twelve. "To modern readers nothing in Augustine's career seems more deplorable... The modern criticism is not of Augustine so much as of the total society in which he was a member." (33)
Although Augustine accepted this marriage, for which he had to abandon his mistress. He was deeply hurt by the loss of his lover. "My mistress was torn from my side as an impediment to my marriage, and my heart which clung to her was torn and wounded till it bled. And she went back to Africa, vowing to thee never to know any other man and leaving with me my natural son by her. But I, unhappy as I was, and weaker than a woman, could not bear the delay of the two years that should elapse before I could obtain the bride I sought. And so, since I was not a lover of wedlock so much as a slave of lust, I procured another mistress - not a wife, of course. Thus in bondage to a lasting habit, the disease of my soul might be nursed up and kept in its vigor or even increased until it reached the realm of matrimony. Nor indeed was the wound healed that had been caused by cutting away my former mistress; only it ceased to burn and throb, and began to fester, and was more dangerous because it was less painful." (34)
Augustine was deeply troubled by his sexual desire: "But now, the more ardently I loved those whose wholesome affections I heard reported - that they had given themselves up wholly to thee to be cured - the more did I abhor myself when compared with them. For many of my years - perhaps twelve - had passed away since my nineteenth, when, upon the reading of Cicero’s Hortensius, I was roused to a desire for wisdom. And here I was, still postponing the abandonment of this world’s happiness to devote myself to the search. For not just the finding alone, but also the bare search for it, ought to have been preferred above the treasures and kingdoms of this world; better than all bodily pleasures, though they were to be had for the taking. But, wretched youth that I was - supremely wretched even in the very outset of my youth - I had entreated chastity of thee and had prayed, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.” For I was afraid lest thou shouldst hear me too soon, and too soon cure me of my disease of lust which I desired to have satisfied rather than extinguished." (35)
While living in Milan he encountered the Christian orator, Bishop Ambrose. "And to Milan I came, to Ambrose the bishop, famed through the whole world as one of the best of men, thy devoted servant. His eloquent discourse in those times abundantly provided thy people with the flour of thy wheat, the gladness of thy oil, and the sober intoxication of thy wine. To him I was led by thee without my knowledge, that by him I might be led to thee in full knowledge. That man of God received me as a father would, and welcomed my coming as a good bishop should. And I began to love him, of course, not at the first as a teacher of the truth, for I had entirely despaired of finding that in thy Church - but as a friendly man. And I studiously listened to him - though not with the right motive - as he preached to the people. I was trying to discover whether his eloquence came up to his reputation, and whether it flowed fuller or thinner than others said it did. And thus I hung on his words intently, but, as to his subject matter, I was only a careless and contemptuous listener.... Yet I was drawing nearer, gradually and unconsciously." (36)
Ambrose had been the Roman governor of Liguria and Emilia, before becoming a Christian. As bishop, he immediately adopted an ascetic lifestyle, donating all of his money and land to the poor. Giving to the poor was not to be considered an act of generosity towards the fringes of society but a repayment of resources that God had originally bestowed on everyone equally and that the rich had usurped. This idea had a great impact on the development of Augustine's philosophy. (37) As "a statesman, who skillfully and courageously consolidated the power of the Church, he stands out as a man of the first rank". Ambrose warned against intermarriage with pagans, Jews, or heretics. He was also greatly concerned about the subject of sexual morality and wrote "a treatise in praise of virginity, and another deprecating the remarriage of widows". (38)
Augustine eventually broke off his engagement to his eleven-year-old fiancée. Alypius of Thagaste steered Augustine away from marriage, saying that they could not live a life together in the love of wisdom if he married. It seems that a "furtive sexual experience in early adolescence had left Alypius with a lasting sense of revulsion" and found Augustine's delight in sexual relationships "astonishing and unintelligible". In August 386 AD, at the age of 31, Augustine converted to Christianity and dedicated the rest of his life to celibacy. (39)
Augustine later explained the details of his conversion: "Suddenly I heard the voice of a boy or a girl I know not which - coming from the neighboring house, chanting over and over again, “Pick it up, read it; pick it up, read it.” Immediately I ceased weeping and began most earnestly to think whether it was usual for children in some kind of game to sing such a song, but I could not remember ever having heard the like. So, damming the torrent of my tears, I got to my feet, for I could not but think that this was a divine command to open the Bible and read the first passage I should light upon. For I had heard how Anthony, accidentally coming into church while the gospel was being read, received the admonition as if what was read had been addressed to him: 'Go and sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.' (Romans: XIII: 13-14). By such an oracle he was forthwith converted to thee." (40)
Ambrose baptized Augustine, along with his son Adeodatus (which means "gift of God"), in Milan in April 387 AD. The following year he returned home to North Africa. (41) Following the death of his mother and his son aged sixteen, he sold his possessions and gave the money to the poor. The only thing he kept was the family house, which he converted into a monastic foundation for himself and a group of friends. (42)
In 391 AD Augustine was ordained a priest in Hippo Regius, in modern-day Algeria. He became a famous preacher (more than 350 preserved sermons are believed to be authentic), and was noted for combating the Manichaean religion, to which he had formerly adhered. In 395, he became Bishop of Hippo and over the next couple of years he wrote The Confessions, where he attempted to explain why he became a Christian. (43)
It has been claimed that Augustine was the "first modern man" in "the sense that with him the reader feels himself addressed at a level of extraordinary psychological depth and confronted by a coherent system of thought, large parts of which still make potent claims to attention and respect". In doing so he "affected the way in which the West has subsequently thought about the nature of man and what we mean by the word God." (44)
In Book XI, Augustine is concerned with the philosophical issue of time. Time was created when the world was created. God is eternal, in the sense of being timeless; in God there is no before and after, but only an eternal present. God's eternity is exempt from the relation of time; all time is present to Him at once. "This leads Augustine to a very admirable relativistic theory of time." (45) According to Augustine: "The present of things past is memory, the present of things present is sight; and the present of things future is expectation." (46)
Henry Chadwick has argued: "The Confessions is far from being a simple autobiography of a sensitive man, in youth captivated by aesthetic beauty and enthralled by the quest for a sexual fulfillment, but then dramatically converted to Christian faith through a grim period of distress and frustration, finally becoming a bishop known for holding pessimistic opinions about human nature and society." He was criticized by Pelagius, a theologian of British origin, for producing a book that suggested the "totality of human dependence on God for the achievement of the good life". Pelagius "feared the morally enervating effects of telling people to do nothing and to rely entirely on divine grace to impart the will to love the right and the good." (47)
Augustine's work The City of God was written to console his fellow Christians after the Visigoths had sacked Rome in 410. It is claimed that many Romans saw it as punishment for abandoning traditional Roman religion for Christianity. Augustine responded by arguing for the truth of Christianity over competing religions and philosophies. His main point being that Christianity's message is spiritual rather than political. Bertrand Russell, the author of History of Western Philosophy (1946) claims that in this great book, Augustine developed "a complete Christian scheme of history, past, present, and future" and explores the "dualism of the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world". (48)
In Book I Augustine criticised the pagans, who attributed the calamities of the world, and especially the recent sack of Rome by the Goths, to the Christian religion, and its prohibition of the worship of the gods. However, he pointed out: "Have not those very Romans, who were spared by the barbarians through their respect for Christ, become enemies to the name of Christ? The reliquaries of the martyrs and the churches of the apostles bear witness to this; for in the sack of the city they were open sanctuary for all who fled to them, whether Christian or Pagan. To their very threshold the bloodthirsty enemy raged; there his murderous fury owned a limit. There did such of the enemy as had any pity convey those to whom they had given quarter, lest any less mercifully disposed might fall upon them." (49)
Augustine went on to explain why it was so important to be a Christian: "The good man, though a slave, is free; the wicked, though he reigns, is a slave. To the divine providence it has seemed good to prepare in the world to come for the righteous good things, which the unrighteous shall not enjoy; and for the wicked evil things, by which the good shall not be tormented. But as for the good things of this life, and its ills, God has willed that these should be common to both; that we might not too eagerly covet the things which wicked men are seen equally to enjoy, nor shrink with an unseemly fear from the ills which even good men often suffer. There is, too, a very great difference in the purpose served both by those events which we call adverse and those called prosperous. For the good man is neither uplifted with the good things of time, nor broken by its ills; but the wicked man, because he is corrupted by this world's happiness, feels himself punished by its unhappiness." (50)
Augustine attempted to explain the decline of the Roman Empire: "The lust for power, which of all human vices was found in its most concentrated form in the Roman people as a whole, first established its victory in a few powerful individuals, and then crushed the rest of an exhausted country beneath the yoke of slavery. For when can that lust for power in arrogant hearts come to rest until, after passing from one office to another, it arrives at sovereignty? Now there would be no occasion for this continuous progress if ambition were not all-powerful; and the essential context for ambition is a people corrupted by greed and sensuality." (51)
Augustine took a look at the Ten Commandments: "There are some exceptions made by the divine authority to its own law, that men may not be put to death. These exceptions are of two kinds, being justified either by a general law, or by a special commission granted for a time to some individual. And in this latter case, he to whom authority is delegated, and who is but the sword in the hand of him who uses it, is not himself responsible for the death he deals. And, accordingly, they who have waged war in obedience to the divine command, or in conformity with His laws, have represented in their persons the public justice or the wisdom of government, and in this capacity have put to death wicked men; such persons have by no means violated the commandment, Thou shalt not kill." (52)
In Book V Augustine examines the concepts of fate and free will. He asks what we mean by the word fate: "For when men hear that word, according to the ordinary use of the language, they simply understand by it the virtue of that particular position of the stars which may exist at the time when any one is born or conceived, which some separate altogether from the will of God, while others affirm that this also is dependent on that will. But those who are of opinion that, apart from the will of God, the stars determine what we shall do, or what good things we shall possess, or what evils we shall suffer, must be refused a hearing by all, not only by those who hold the true religion, but by those who wish to be the worshippers of any gods whatsoever, even false gods. For what does this opinion really amount to but this, that no god whatever is to be worshipped or prayed to? Against these, however, our present disputation is not intended to be directed, but against those who, in defense of those whom they think to be gods, oppose the Christian religion. They, however, who make the position of the stars depend on the divine will, and in a manner decree what character each man shall have, and what good or evil shall happen to him, if they think that these same stars have that power conferred upon them by the supreme power of God, in order that they may determine these things according to their will, do a great injury to the celestial sphere, in whose most brilliant senate, and most splendid senate-house, as it were, they suppose that wicked deeds are decreed to be done - such deeds as that, if any terrestrial state should decree them, it would be condemned to overthrow by the decree of the whole human race. What judgment, then, is left to God concerning the deeds of men, who is Lord both of the stars and of men, when to these deeds a celestial necessity is attributed?" (53)
Augustine wrote a great deal about physical desire and often quoted the writings of Paul of Tarsus to support his views. In Book XIV he examines the subject of sexual morality: "And the kingdom of death so reigned over men, that the deserved penalty of sin would have hurled all headlong even into the second death, of which there is no end, had not the undeserved grace of God saved some therefrom. And thus it has come to pass, that though there are very many and great nations all over the earth, whose rites and customs, speech, arms, and dress, are distinguished by marked differences, yet there are no more than two kinds of human society, which we may justly call two cities, according to the language of our Scriptures. The one consists of those who wish to live after the flesh, the other of those who wish to live after the spirit; and when they severally achieve what they wish, they live in peace, each after their kind." (54)
"Scripture uses the word flesh in many ways, which there is not time to collect and investigate, if we are to ascertain what it is to live after the flesh (which is certainly evil, though the nature of flesh is not itself evil), we must carefully examine that passage of the epistle which the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians, in which he says, Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21) This whole passage of the apostolic epistle being considered, so far as it bears on the matter in hand, will be sufficient to answer the question, what it is to live after the flesh. For among the works of the flesh which he said were manifest, and which he cited for condemnation, we find not only those which concern the pleasure of the flesh, as fornications, uncleanness, lasciviousness, drunkenness, revellings, but also those which, though they be remote from fleshly pleasure, reveal the vices of the soul." (55)
Augustine then goes on to compare the City of this world and the City of God: "In enunciating this proposition of ours, then, that because some live according to the flesh and others according to the spirit, there have arisen two diverse and conflicting cities, we might equally well have said, because some live according to man, others according to God. For Paul says very plainly to the Corinthians, For whereas there is among you envying and strife, are you not carnal, and walk according to man? (1 Corinthians 3:3) So that to walk according to man and to be carnal are the same; for by flesh, that is, by a part of man, man is meant. For before he said that those same persons were animal whom afterwards he calls carnal, saying, For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? " (56)
Augustine introduces the story of Adam and Eve to explain his view of sexual morality. God created humankind in God's image and placed Adam in the Garden of Eden. Adam is told that he can eat freely of all the trees in the garden, except for a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Subsequently, Eve is created from one of Adam's ribs to be Adam's companion. They are innocent and unembarrassed about their nakedness. However, a serpent deceives Eve into eating fruit from the forbidden tree, and she gives some of the fruit to Adam. These acts give them additional knowledge, but it gives them the ability to conjure negative and destructive concepts. God later curses the serpent and the ground. God prophetically tells the woman and the man what will be the consequences of their sin of disobeying God. Then he banishes them from the Garden of Eden. (57) Augustine added: "Adam did not love Eve because she was beautiful; it was his love which made her beautiful." (58)
Augustine explains: "But it is a worse and more damnable pride which casts about for the shelter of an excuse even in manifest sins, as these our first parents did, of whom the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat; and the man said, The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. (Genesis 3:12-13) Here there is no word of begging pardon, no word of entreaty for healing. For though they do not, like Cain, deny that they have perpetrated the deed, yet their pride seeks to refer its wickedness to another - the woman's pride to the serpent, the man's to the woman. But where there is a plain transgression of a divine commandment, this is rather to accuse than to excuse oneself. For the fact that the woman sinned on the serpent's persuasion, and the man at the woman's offer, did not make the transgression less, as if there were any one whom we ought rather to believe or yield to than God." (59)
Augustine then goes on to look at the vice of lust: "Lust may have many objects, yet when no object is specified, the word lust usually suggests to the mind the lustful excitement of the organs of generation. And this lust not only takes possession of the whole body and outward members, but also makes itself felt within, and moves the whole man with a passion in which mental emotion is mingled with bodily appetite, so that the pleasure which results is the greatest of all bodily pleasures. So possessing indeed is this pleasure, that at the moment of time in which it is consummated, all mental activity is suspended. What friend of wisdom and holy joys, who, being married, but knowing, as the apostle says, how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor, not in the disease of desire, as the Gentiles who know not God (1 Thessalonians 4:4) would not prefer, if this were possible, to beget children without this lust, so that in this function of begetting offspring the members created for this purpose should not be stimulated by the heat of lust, but should be actuated by his volition, in the same way as his other members serve him for their respective ends? But even those who delight in this pleasure are not moved to it at their own will, whether they confine themselves to lawful or transgress to unlawful pleasures; but sometimes this lust importunes them in spite of themselves, and sometimes fails them when they desire to feel it, so that though lust rages in the mind, it stirs not in the body." (60)
According to Augustine, we are all subject as part of our punishment for the sins of Adam and Eve. Chastity is a virtue of the mind. Sexual intercourse in marriage is not sinful, provided the intention is to beget offspring. Even in marriage, as the desire for privacy shows, people are ashamed of sexual intercourse, because "this lawful act of nature is (from our first parents) accompanied with our penal shame". What is shameful about lust is its independence of the will. The need of lust in sexual intercourse is a punishment for Adam's sin, but for which sex might have been divorced from pleasure. "Virtue, it is held, demands a complete control of the will over the body, but such control does not suffice to make the sexual act possible. The sexual act, therefore, seems inconsistent with a perfectly virtuous life." (61)
Augustine explains the connections between shame and lust: "Justly is shame very specially connected with this lust; justly, too, these members themselves, being moved and restrained not at our will, but by a certain independent autocracy, so to speak, are called shameful. Their condition was different before sin. For as it is written, They were naked and were not ashamed, (Genesis 2:25) not that their nakedness was unknown to them, but because nakedness was not yet shameful, because not yet did lust move those members without the will's consent; not yet did the flesh by its disobedience testify against the disobedience of man. For they were not created blind, as the unenlightened vulgar fancy; for Adam saw the animals to whom he gave names, and of Eve we read, The woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes. (Genesis 3:6) Their eyes, therefore were open, but were not open to this, that is to say, were not observant so as to recognize what was conferred upon them by the garment of grace, for they had no consciousness of their members warring against their will. But when they were stripped of this grace, that their disobedience might be punished by fit retribution, there began in the movement of their bodily members a shameless novelty which made nakedness indecent: it at once made them observant and made them ashamed. And therefore, after they violated God's command by open transgression, it is written: And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. (Genesis 3:7) The eyes of them both were opened, not to see, for already they saw, but to discern between the good they had lost and the evil into which they had fallen." (62)
Augustine argues that in animals the mating instinct operates only at certain times of the year. In man the impulse puts him continually in trouble. Shame is a universal phenomenon. Within marriage itself, where sexual union is acceptable, the act normally takes place in privacy and darkness. "The gulf between dignity and animality made the subject central to much comedy. Why are taboo words coined except to express humanity's combination of fascination and revulsion?" Moreover, "sexual ecstasy swamps the mind", obliterating rational thought. (63)
In the The City of God Augustine addressed the idea of the "just war". After describing the horror of past wars he argued: "If I attempted to give an adequate description of these manifold disasters, these stern and lasting necessities, though I am quite unequal to the task, what limit could I set? But, say they, the wise man will wage just wars. As if he would not all the rather lament the necessity of just wars, if he remembers that he is a man; for if they were not just he would not wage them, and would therefore be delivered from all wars. For it is the wrongdoing of the opposing party which compels the wise man to wage just wars; and this wrong-doing, even though it gave rise to no war, would still be matter of grief to man because it is man's wrong-doing. Let every one, then, who thinks with pain on all these great evils, so horrible, so ruthless, acknowledge that this is misery. And if any one either endures or thinks of them without mental pain, this is a more miserable plight still, for he thinks himself happy because he has lost human feeling." (64)
Augustine insisted that individuals should not resort immediately to violence, but quoting the teachings of Paul of Tarsus, he justified the violence of the state: "For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer." (65)
Wars are often the result of the way people come from different types of society: "In the first place, man is separated from man by the difference of languages. For if two men, each ignorant of the other's language, meet, and are not compelled to pass, but, on the contrary, to remain in company, dumb animals, though of different species, would more easily hold intercourse than they, human beings though they be. For their common nature is no help to friendliness when they are prevented by diversity of language from conveying their sentiments to one another; so that a man would more readily hold intercourse with his dog than with a foreigner. But the imperial city has endeavored to impose on subject nations not only her yoke, but her language, as a bond of peace, so that interpreters, far from being scarce, are numberless. This is true; but how many great wars, how much slaughter and bloodshed, have provided this unity! And though these are past, the end of these miseries has not yet come. For though there have never been wanting, nor are yet wanting, hostile nations beyond the empire, against whom wars have been and are waged, yet, supposing there were no such nations, the very extent of the empire itself has produced wars of a more obnoxious description - social and civil wars - and with these the whole race has been agitated, either by the actual conflict or the fear of a renewed outbreak. If I attempted to give an adequate description of these manifold disasters, these stern and lasting necessities, though I am quite unequal to the task, what limit could I set?" (66)
In Contra Faustum Manichaeum Augustine argues that Christians as part of government need not be ashamed to protect peace and punish wickedness when compelled to do so by a government. A just war is when it is (i) a defensive war against an unprovoked aggression, where the consequences would be severe, chronic and certain; (ii) other means on repulsing the aggression have proved inefficient; (iii) the resistance have realistic chances to succeed the damage caused by the war are not greater than those which are intended to be prevented. (67)
Augustine approved self-defence when confronted with an unjust aggression. Nonetheless, he asserted, peacefulness in the face of a grave wrong that could only be stopped by violence would be a sin. Defense of one's self or others could be a necessity, especially when authorized by a legitimate authority: "However, there are some exceptions made by the divine authority to its own law, that men may not be put to death. And, accordingly, they who have waged war in obedience to the divine command, or in conformity with His laws, have represented in their persons the public justice or the wisdom of government, and in this capacity have put to death wicked men; such persons have by no means violated the commandment, Thou shalt not kill." (68)
Augustine had studied the early Greek philosophers. There is a very sympathetic account of Plato, whom he places above philosophers such as Socrates and Epicurus. All these were materialists; Plato was not. He saw that God is not any bodily thing, but that all things have their being from God, and from something immutable. Platonists are the best in logic and ethics, and nearest to Christianity. As for Aristotle, he was Plato's inferior, but far above the rest. There are things that can be discovered by reason (as in the philosophers), but for all further religious knowledge we must rely on the Scriptures. (69)
In Book IXX he argues: "Philosophers have expressed a great variety of diverse opinions regarding the ends of goods and of evils, and this question they have eagerly canvassed, that they might, if possible, discover what makes a man happy... According, then, as bodily pleasure is subjected, preferred, or united to virtue, there are three sects. It is subjected to virtue when it is chosen as subservient to virtue. Thus it is a duty of virtue to live for one's country, and for its sake to beget children, neither of which can be done without bodily pleasure. For there is pleasure in eating and drinking, pleasure also in sexual intercourse. But when it is preferred to virtue, it is desired for its own sake, and virtue is chosen only for its sake, and to effect nothing else than the attainment or preservation of bodily pleasure. And this, indeed, is to make life hideous; for where virtue is the slave of pleasure it no longer deserves the name of virtue. Yet even this disgraceful distortion has found some philosophers to patronize and defend it. Then virtue is united to pleasure when neither is desired for the other's sake, but both for their own." (70)
Augustine refers to problems of Cicero dealing with the death of his daughter: "For what flood of eloquence can suffice to detail the miseries of this life? Cicero, in the Consolation on the death of his daughter, has spent all his ability in lamentation; but how inadequate was even his ability here? For when, where, how, in this life can these primary objects of nature be possessed so that they may not be assailed by unforeseen accidents? Is the body of the wise man exempt from any pain which may dispel pleasure, from any disquietude which may banish repose? The amputation or decay of the members of the body puts an end to its integrity, deformity blights its beauty, weakness its health, lassitude its vigor, sleepiness or sluggishness its activity - and which of these is it that may not assail the flesh of the wise man? Comely and fitting attitudes and movements of the body are numbered among the prime natural blessings; but what if some sickness makes the members tremble?" (71)
Christianity encourages people to love other people: "And therefore, although our righteous fathers had slaves, and administered their domestic affairs so as to distinguish between the condition of slaves and the heirship of sons in regard to the blessings of this life, yet in regard to the worship of God, in whom we hope for eternal blessings, they took an equally loving oversight of all the members of their household. And this is so much in accordance with the natural order, that the head of the household was called paterfamilias; and this name has been so generally accepted, that even those whose rule is unrighteous are glad to apply it to themselves. But those who are true fathers of their households desire and endeavor that all the members of their household, equally with their own children, should worship and win God, and should come to that heavenly home in which the duty of ruling men is no longer necessary, because the duty of caring for their everlasting happiness has also ceased; but, until they reach that home, masters ought to feel their position of authority a greater burden than servants their service. And if any member of the family interrupts the domestic peace by disobedience, he is corrected either by word or blow, or some kind of just and legitimate punishment, such as society permits, that he may himself be the better for it, and be readjusted to the family harmony from which he had dislocated himself." (72)
Soon after being converted to Christianity, Augustine wrote Soliloquies. The book has the form of an "inner dialogue" in which questions are posed, discussions take place and answers are provided, leading to self-knowledge. There are several references to Plato, Cicero and Plotinus. The first book begins with an inner dialogue which seeks to know a soul. In the second book it becomes clear that the soul Augustine wants to get to know is his own. (73) Augustine argued that the prime subject of philosophy should be "the study of God and the human soul". (74)
Augustine also wrote on the nature of music. He restatement of Plato's belief that mathematical principles underlie everything in the universe. "Plato had taught that the very structure of the soul is determined by ratios directly related to the ratios of intervals in music; e.g. an octave is 2 to 1, a fifth 3 to 2, a fourth 4 to 3, a whole tone 9 to 8. Indeed the same ratios governed the distances between the planets. He knew that fitting music is capable of bringing the meaning of words home to the heart. When he was a young man he found music indispensable to his life as a source of consolation... What power of the mind is more astonishing than its ability to recall music without actually hearing any physical sounds? The observation seemed to Augustine a striking demonstration of the soul's transcendence in relation to the body." (75) Augustine agreed with Plato's thesis that between music and the soul there is a "hidden affinity". (76)
Augustine also wrote a substantial and complex treatise "on the origin of evil and on free choice". He states that every ethical action involves the consideration of the cardinal virtues of justice, prudence, self-control and courage. Virtue depends on right and rational choices, and therefore happiness lies in loving goodness of will. By contrast, misery is the product of an evil will. He suggests that evil originated in a misused free choice which neglected eternal goodness, beauty and truth." (77)
Augustine added: "Man is slave to that by which he wishes to find happiness." (78) The longing for authentic happiness is the point at which man discovers God within. "Do not go outside yourself" by looking at the external world, but return into your own personality. The mind is a mirror reflecting divine truth; but it is mutable. Therefore you need to "transcend yourself" and seek the unchanging and eternal ground of all being. Then you will find that "the service of God is perfect freedom". (79)
The Vandals besieged Hippo Regius in the spring of 430. Augustine spent his final days in prayer and repentance. He had described human life as a race towards death and commented that "one should begin each day not with complacency that one has survived another day but with compunction that one more day of one's allotted span has for ever passed." Augustine thought the fear of death could not be so universal or profound unless it were a penalty for sin. (80)
Augustine died on 28th August 430 AD. After his death the Vandals destroyed the city but left Augustine's cathedral and library.
The superfluities of the rich are the necessaries of the poor. They who possess superfluities, possess the goods of others.
Therefore do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe that thou mayest understand.
If anyone will piously and soberly consider the sermon which our Lord Jesus spoke on the mount, as we read it in the Gospel according to Matthew, I think that he will find in it, so far as regards the highest morals, a perfect standard of the Christian life: and this we do not rashly venture to promise, but gather it from the very words of the Lord Himself. For the sermon itself is brought to a close in such a way, that it is clear there are in it all the precepts which go to mould the life. … He has sufficiently indicated, as I think, that these sayings which He uttered on the mount so perfectly guide the life of those who may be willing to live according to them, that they may justly be compared to one building upon a rock.
I became evil for no reason. I had no motive for my wickedness except wickedness itself. It was foul, and I loved it. I loved the self-destruction, I loved my fall, not the object for which I had fallen but my fall itself. My depraved soul leaped down from your firmament to ruin. I was seeking not to gain anything by shameful means, but shame for its own sake.
For it still seemed to me “that it is not we who sin, but some other nature sinned in us.” And it gratified my pride to be beyond blame, and when I did anything wrong not to have to confess that I had done wrong.… I loved to excuse my soul and to accuse something else inside me (I knew not what) but which was not I. But, assuredly, it was I, and it was my impiety that had divided me against myself. That sin then was all the more incurable because I did not deem myself a sinner.
But now, the more ardently I loved those whose wholesome affections I heard reported - that they had given themselves up wholly to thee to be cured - the more did I abhor myself when compared with them. But, wretched youth that I was - supremely wretched even in the very outset of my youth - I had entreated chastity of thee and had prayed, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.” For I was afraid lest thou shouldst hear me too soon, and too soon cure me of my disease of lust which I desired to have satisfied rather than extinguished.
I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when suddenly I heard the voice of a boy or a girl I know not which - coming from the neighboring house, chanting over and over again, "Take up and read; take up and read." Immediately I ceased weeping and began most earnestly to think whether it was usual for children in some kind of game to sing such a song, but I could not remember ever having heard the like. For I had heard how Anthony, accidentally coming into church while the gospel was being read, received the admonition as if what was read had been addressed to him: "Go and sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me" (Matt. 19:21). By such an oracle he was forthwith converted to thee. So I quickly returned to the bench where Alypius was sitting, for there I had put down the apostle’s book when I had left there. I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell: "Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof" (Romans 13:13). I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to. For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.
But the inner part is the better part; for to it, as both ruler and judge, all these messengers of the senses report the answers of heaven and earth and all the things therein, who said, "We are not God, but he made us." My inner man knew these things through the ministry of the outer man, and I, the inner man, knew all this - I, the soul, through the senses of my body. I asked the whole frame of earth about my God, and it answered, "I am not he, but he made me."
There is another form of temptation, more complex in its peril. … It originates in an appetite for knowledge. … From this malady of curiosity are all those strange sights exhibited in the theatre. Hence do we proceed to search out the secret powers of nature (which is beside our end), which to know profits not, and wherein men desire nothing but to know.
The good man, though a slave, is free; the wicked, though he reigns, is a slave.
To the divine providence it has seemed good to prepare in the world to come for the righteous good things, which the unrighteous shall not enjoy; and for the wicked evil things, by which the good shall not be tormented. But as for the good things of this life, and its ills, God has willed that these should be common to both; that we might not too eagerly covet the things which wicked men are seen equally to enjoy, nor shrink with an unseemly fear from the ills which even good men often suffer.
There is, too, a very great difference in the purpose served both by those events which we call adverse and those called prosperous. For the good man is neither uplifted with the good things of time, nor broken by its ills; but the wicked man, because he is corrupted by this world’s happiness, feels himself punished by its unhappiness.
Virtue and vice are not the same, even if they undergo the same torment…. Thus, in this universal catastrophe, the sufferings of Christians have tended to their moral improvement, because they viewed them with eyes of faith.
The lust for power, which of all human vices was found in its most concentrated form in the Roman people as a whole, first established its victory in a few powerful individuals, and then crushed the rest of an exhausted country beneath the yoke of slavery.
For when can that lust for power in arrogant hearts come to rest until, after passing from one office to another, it arrives at sovereignty? Now there would be no occasion for this continuous progress if ambition were not all-powerful; and the essential context for ambition is a people corrupted by greed and sensuality.
The dominion of bad men is hurtful chiefly to themselves who rule, for they destroy their own souls by greater license in wickedness; while those who are put under them in service are not hurt except by their own iniquity. For to the just all the evils imposed on them by unjust rulers are not the punishment of crime, but the test of virtue. Therefore the good man, although he is a slave, is free; but the bad man, even if he reigns, is a slave, and that not of one man, but, what is far more grievous, of as many masters as he has vices; of which vices when the divine Scripture treats, it says, “For of whom any man is overcome, to the same he is also the bond-slave.
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 thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.”
Beauty is indeed a good gift of God; but that the good may not think it a great good, God dispenses it even to the wicked.
Shut out the evil love of the world, that you may be filled with the love of God. You are a vessel that was already full: you must pour away what you have, that you may take in what you have not.
A man might say, "The things that are in the world are what God has made... Why should I not love what God has made?" ...
Suppose, my brethren, a man should make for his betrothed a ring, and she should prefer the ring given her to the betrothed who made it for her, would not her heart be convicted of infidelity? ... God has given you all these things: therefore, love him who made them.
Beauty grows in you to the extent that love grows, because charity itself is the soul's beauty.
(1) Miles Hollingworth, Saint Augustine of Hippo: An Intellectual Biography (2013) pages 51-52
(2) Jeffrey Richards, The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages 476–752 (1979) pages 14-15
(3) Henry Chadwick, Augustine: A Very Short Introduction (2001) page 7
(4) Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy (1946) page 346
(5) Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions (397-398 AD) Book I: Chapter XII
(6) Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions (397-398 AD) Book II: Chapter IV
(7) Henry Chadwick, Augustine: A Very Short Introduction (2001) page 11
(8) Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions (397-398 AD) Book II: Chapter III
(9) Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions (397-398 AD) Book IV: Chapter II
(10) Plato, Apology of Socrates (c. 380 BC)
(11) John Sellars. Stoicism (2006) page 32
(12) Robin Campbell, Letters from a Stoic (2004) pages 16-17
(13) Seneca, On Clemency (c. 56) chapter III
(14) Seneca, On Clemency (c. 56) chapter XXIV
(15) Seneca, On Providence (c. AD 64) I
(16) Seneca, On Providence (c. AD 64) IV
(17) Robin Campbell, Letters from a Stoic (2004) page 7
(18) R. S. Pine-Coffin, introduction to The Confessions (2002) page 13
(19) Henry Chadwick, Augustine: A Very Short Introduction (2001) page 13
(20) Henry Chadwick, Saint Augustine: Confessions (2008) page xiv
(21) Henry Chadwick, Augustine: A Very Short Introduction (2001) page 15
(22) Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions (397-398 AD) Book III: Chapter IV
(23) Cicero, On Friendship (44 BC) section VI
(24) Henry Chadwick, Augustine: A Very Short Introduction (2001) page 5
(25) Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy (1946) page 348
(26) Henry Chadwick, Augustine: A Very Short Introduction (2001) page 14
(27) Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy (1946) pages 326
(28) Henry Chadwick, Augustine: A Very Short Introduction (2001) pages 21 & 25
(29) Plotinus, The Enneads (Book I: 4.4)
(30) Plotinus, The Enneads (Book III: 4.6)
(31) Plotinus, The Enneads (Book I: 4.11)
(32) William Inge, The Philosophy of Plotinus (1918) page xi
(33) Henry Chadwick, Saint Augustine: Confessions (2008) page xvi
(34) Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions (397-398 AD) Book VI: Chapter XV
(35) Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions (397-398 AD) Book VIII: Chapter VII
(36) Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions (397-398 AD) Book V: Chapter XIII
(37) Peter Brown, Through the Eye of the Needle - Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350–550 AD (2012) page 133
(38) Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy (1946) page 340
(39) Henry Chadwick, Saint Augustine: Confessions (2008) page xvii
(40) Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions (397-398 AD) Book VIII: Chapter XII
(41) Eric Leland Saak, High Way to Heaven: The Augustinian Platform between Reform and Reformation (2002) page 290
(42) Mark Vessey, A Companion to Augustine (2015) page 84
(43) Henry Chadwick, A History of Christianity (1995) page 61
(44) Henry Chadwick, Augustine: A Very Short Introduction (2001) page 4
(45) Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy (1946) page 352
(46) Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions (397-398 AD) Book XI: Chapter XX
(47) Henry Chadwick, Saint Augustine: Confessions (2008) pages ix-x
(48) Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy (1946) page 304
(49) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book I: Chapter I
(50) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book I: Chapter VIII
(51) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book I: Chapter XXXI
(52) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book II: Chapter XXI
(53) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book V: Chapter I
(54) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book XIV: Chapter I
(55) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book XIV: Chapter II
(56) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book XIV: Chapter IV
(57) Book of Genesis (1-11)
(58) Augustine of Hippo, Enarrationes in Psalmos (c. 395 AD) 132:10
(59) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book XIV: Chapter XIV
(60) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book XIV: Chapter XIV
(61) Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy (1946) page 358
(62) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book XIV: Chapter XVII
(63) Henry Chadwick, Augustine: A Very Short Introduction (2001) page 120
(64) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book XIX: Chapter VII
(65) Epistle to the Romans (13:3-4)
(66) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book IXX: Chapter VII
(67) Augustine of Hippo, Contra Faustum Manichaeum (c. 400 AD) Book XXII: Chapters 69-76
(68) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book II: Chapter XXI
(69) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book XIV: Chapter XV
(70) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book IXX: Chapter I
(71) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book IXX: Chapter IV
(72) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (412-427 AD) Book IXX: Chapter XVI
(73) Eleonore Stump, The Cambridge Companion to Augustine (2001) page 76
(74) Augustine of Hippo, Soliloquies (386 AD) Book 1: Chapter 7
(75) Henry Chadwick, Augustine: A Very Short Introduction (2001) page 47
(76) Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions (397-398 AD) Book X: Chapter XLIX
(77) Augustine of Hippo, De Libero Arbitrio (c. 394 AD)
(78) Augustine of Hippo, De Vera Religione (c. 390 AD) 69
(79) Augustine of Hippo, De Vera Religione (c. 390 AD) 87
(80) Henry Chadwick, Augustine: A Very Short Introduction (2001) pages 45 & 117
Augustinian Calvinism is a term used to emphasize the origin of John Calvin's theology within Augustine of Hippo's theology over a thousand years earlier. By his own admission, John Calvin's theology was deeply influenced by Augustine of Hippo, the fourth-century church father. Twentieth-century Reformed theologian B. B. Warfield said, "The system of doctrine taught by Calvin is just the Augustinianism common to the whole body of the Reformers."  Paul Helm, a well-known Reformed theologian, used the term Augustinian Calvinism for his view in the book "The Augustinian-Calvinist View" in Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views. 
Born in 354 CE in the North African city of Tagaste to a Christian mother and pagan father, Augustine began his career as a pagan teacher of rhetoric in, among other places, Carthage. In search of better students, Augustine traveled to Rome in 383, assuming considerable personal risk in doing so, but was disappointed to discover his newfound students lacking the virtue he thought the necessary prerequisite for a proper education. Failing to acquire satisfactory students, Augustine moved once again, this time to Milan where he accepted a position as a professor of rhetoric.
It was in Milan that Augustine adopted the study of Neoplatonism in earnest, though he had shown a fondness for classical philosophy, particularly the works of Virgil and Cicero, from an early age. In Neoplatonism the still-young Augustine thought, with great confidence and enthusiasm, that he had found an academic school capable of uniting the teachings of Christianity with those of Greek and Roman philosophy. Shortly thereafter Augustine converted to Christianity and, returning to North Africa, accepted the position of bishop in Hippo in 396, one that he would retain for the remainder of his life. It was arguably his encounter with Neoplatonism that caused Augustine to recognize the teachings of the Church as a source of intellectual insight not unlike that of classical philosophy. An autobiographical account of his religious conversion is the subject of Augustine’s Confessions, which numbers among the most famous and influential of his works.
Upon rising to the position of bishop, Augustine increasingly immersed himself in the daily routine of monastic life and became entangled with internal Scholastic controversies facing the Church, particularly those involving the Donatists and Pelagians. Because of his considerable intellect and rhetorical skill, Augustine grew to be a particularly skillful and persuasive defender of Christianity against critics from multiple directions. At the same time, Augustine appears to have grown increasingly skeptical of his youthful opinion that Christianity and classical philosophy might be readily reconciled by way of Neoplatonism. Though Augustine’s work De Civitate Dei (The City of God) contains considerable praise for Platonic philosophy and its intellectual inheritors, more apparent within the work are the major differences between the Platonic tradition and many of the teachings of the Church, with Augustine, not surprisingly, lending his own support to the latter. In his personal life, Augustine is described as living a life of tireless work and rigorous denial of earthly pleasures.
Augustine devoted his final days to prayer and repentance as he battled illness and watched his home, Hippo, besieged by Germanic invaders. Shortly after his death in 430 the city was burnt to the ground by its attackers, who, nonetheless, left Augustine’s library unharmed. He was subsequently canonized and was named a Doctor of the Church in 1298. He continues to serve as the patron saint of printers, brewers, and theologians.
Augustine of Hippo
Saint Augustine was born in a small town in North Africa to a Christian mother, St. Monica, and a pagan father. He excelled at his studies and went to Rome to teach Rhetoric, where he lived an indulgent life, and explored such heretical philosophies as Manichaeism. Finally, at the age of 30 he went to teach in Milan, and was greatly influenced by Saint Ambrose, then bishop of Milan. He finally converted to Christianity and was baptized in 387 A . D .. Shortly afterward, he returned to Africa to live a monastic life, but was soon recruited into the priesthood. He was declared bishop of Hippo, a coastal town in North Africa, in 395, and remained in that position until his death in 430 387 A . D ., during the Siege of Hippo by Genseric the Vandal.
Augustine is best known for his writings, which included several books as well as a great many letters detailing specificpoints of Christian theology, and critiquing other philosophies. His two best known books are Confessions , which tells the story of his personal faith journey and ultimate conversion to Christianity, and City of God , an influential treatise on the proper role of religion in public life. His works were widely read during the middle ages and are still influential today.
Why was St. Augustine so important in Christian History?
It is critical to keep in mind that Augustine was heavily influenced and informed by both the Greek and Latin philosophical traditions. Augustine uses the dialectical tools and ideological framework provided by these traditions to understand and later explain Christian theology. From the Augustinian perspective there is nothing inherently wrong in pagan thought that makes it inadmissible in Christian theology--though useful, it is simply not a full account of the truth.
Many today, whether raised in a Christian environment or not, are familiar with the notion of original sin. This concept refers to the “fall of man” (Adam’s act of disobedience) articulated in Genesis 1, through which Adam and his progeny inherited an unavoidably corrupt and fallen human nature. Augustine is responsible for fashioning this doctrine, though a bleak and under-explored version of it existed prior to his own evaluation.
One can turn to Augustine’s most famous work, Confessions, to understand his articulation of “original sin.” In it he recounts an experience from his youth when he was with a group of friends and stole pears from a neighboring farm. As he wrestles with his motivations for taking the fruit, Augustine concludes that he had an inordinate desire to take it. In other words, he wanted to do it simply because he knew it was wrong--he enjoyed and relished the evil: “It was foul, and I loved it. I loved to perish. I loved my own error— not that for which I erred, but the error itself.”  This perverse desire (concupiscence), as far as Augustine is concerned, results from the corruption of the will, incurred from the “fall of man.” Man, being made for God should desire what leads him to union with God. He should desire the perfect, the good, the truth. However, man often prefers lesser goods (gratification of personal desires) to greater goods (the love of God) and this is a result of his will not functioning properly. The force of Augustine’s position echoed loudly throughout the church and officially became doctrine in the Council of Carthage (418 C.E.).
Now, the notion of grace is, though largely informed by his understanding of original sin, not one particular to Augustine. It is a major theme throughout the Pauline epistles and was heavily discussed by the Greek fathers. However, Augustine amplified the discussion of grace in what Christian historians now call the “Pelagian controversy.” The reason this debate is dubbed the Pelagian controversy is that Augustine’s theology of grace, its importance in morality and soteriology specifically, is largely developed through a series of letters to and from another Christian contemporary of Augustine: Pelagius.
The word grace in Christian theology tends to have a variety of meanings however, Augustine understands it as an unmerited gift of God’s love and favor. The issue with Pelagius's account of grace is quite simple: he doesn’t acknowledge it. As far as Augustine is concerned, due to post-lapsarian (post-fall) position of man, we are in need of God’s grace to desire and carry out the good. Grace serves as a remedy in many ways to our fallen nature. Without it, mankind cannot act morally nor can he find salvation. Pelagius believed that man was capable, naturally, to desire and carry out the good. Moreover, this ability meant that man was entirely responsible for his own salvation. If he acted well, he was well-deserving of a reward if he acted poorly, he was well-deserving of punishment.
Now, this debate with Pelagius was a pivotal moment in Christian discourse because it helped elucidate the importance of grace in the moral life and the very real effects of original sin according to the Christian narrative. Much of the Gospel is predicated on the idea that man is broken and in need of redemption. For Augustine, original sin is the source of the brokenness grace is the means or restoration. In essence, man cannot save himself.
Further, Augustine re-shaped the way the Western world thought about the ethical life. Augustine famously believed that the virtuous life was exclusively Christian. In order to be ethical, one had to do the right thing and carry it out for the right end (telos).  To be a good or virtuous person did not merely mean acting the right way, but acting the right way for the right reasons. And so, the Christian faith effectively becomes the point of departure for the happy life—the necessary teleological criterion for virtue. As Augustine himself asserts: “In Christian times there can be no doubt at all as to which religion is to be received and held fast, and as to where is the way that leads to truth and beatitude.”  Essentially, right belief (or Christianity) becomes paramount in acting well. This view will radically change the trajectory of ethical thought and praxis in the Western world until the dawn of the Enlightenment when both God’s goodness and existence will be questioned.
In addition to the Pelagian controversy that looms largely over Augustine’s later life, Augustine also persistently argued with another faction of Christians in northern Africa called the Donatists.  In short, his rebuke of Donatism is rooted in the dissension they were causing in the church dating back to the year 303 C.E. As Harmless explains, under the Emperor Diocletian Christians faced mass persecution.  Not only where many martyred in the name of faith, but several bishops were forced under the threat of death to surrender Christian books and scriptures to be burned. Although many refused to do so, others gave into the demands of the emperor, fearing a brutal death.
According to the Donatists these acts of betrayal—surrendering the scriptures—were enough to constitute separation from the church. Thus, the Donatists formed their own sect of the Christian faith, which they claimed to be the true church “without spot or wrinkle.” Association with those “unrighteous” bishops meant putting the efficacy of the sacraments at risk. All of this is to say that Augustine’s polemic with the Donatists primarily dealt with their resolve for separation from the Catholics in Northern Africa. Augustine saw this schism as severely wounding the unity within the body of Christ. Thus, Augustine’s condemnation of Donatism was a statement about what it meant to be a Christian: in catholic communion bound by the bond of mutual charity (love). In this way love and unity were virtually inseparable.  Even in spite of Augustine’s outrage in regards to their eager schismatic efforts, Augustine urged that the Donatists be treated with tolerance and love. This tone and exhortation would carry over into the Church’s discussion of Donatism in the Council of Carthage (417 C.E.).
As may be easy to see, Augustine was a rather impactful figure in Christian history. He laid the groundwork for the formulation and acceptance of the doctrine of original sin, launched a nuanced discussion on the role of grace in the morality and soteriology, and set the trajectory for Christian ethics and ecclesiology. Augustine is such a formidable thinker that his writings stood, and still stand, as a bulwark of orthodoxy in the Church. It is important to note, though, that Augustine is not a static thinker. His philosophy and theology drastically changed throughout his life. For example, after the Pelagian controversy he became a more radical proponent of predestination, in such a way that departed significantly from his earlier works. That being said, depending on what time period one encounters Augustine, one may be getting a more or less radical version of his thought. This is why there are many various denominations who follow him closely, but have drastically different theological positions.
St Augustine and his Mother Monica
The early life of St Augustine was a 4th Century example of Christ’s Prodigal Son. This profligate schoolmaster of eleven years left his Christian upbringing to become a Manichaean, a member of a heretical sect, yet would rise to saintly prominence as bishop of Hippo. Throughout that long and often painful journey, Augustine’s mother Monica never wavered in her prayers until his conversion in Milan through the sermons of Bishop Ambrose.
Monica’s Battle to Save her Son from Heresy
Both Monica and her pagan husband Patricius provided opportunities for a superb education for their son Their hope was that Augustine would leave Tagaste in North Africa to work in Rome.. Augustine, however, became enamored with one of the dualistic cults prevalent in the late Roman Empire. As a student at the University of Carthage, he was drawn to this mystical belief.
Manichaeism juxtaposed perfect good with evil. The belief arose in Persia and was often confused with Christianity. Like Donatism, Manichaeism distorted Christian beliefs. Although suppressed, it would resurface in the heretical beliefs of the Cathars during the Early Middle Ages. Augustine’s later discussion of the Trinity may have been motivated by his flirtation with Manichaeism.
Monica closed her doors to Augustine, banning him from her house. His father died during his first year at the University in Carthage. Augustine originally followed the path of law but chose the life of a teacher instead. He was well known for his developing skills as an orator. It was also during this period that he took a mistress with whom he had a son.
Augustine Travels to Milan and is Converted at Age Thirty-two
Before his conversion to Christianity, Augustine turned to Neo-Platonism. Through Neo-Platonic thought, Augustine sought to achieve union with the perfect truth identified in and though a mystic experience with God. Writing in The Confessions (Book III), Augustine recollects this spiritual journey and credits his mother’s prayers with his deliverance from heresy.
Augustine wrote that, “…Thou sendest Thine hand from above, and drewest my soul out of that profound darkness, my mother.” Augustine spoke of his mother’s weeping, “…more than mothers weep the bodily death of their children.” Ultimately turning from Neo-Platonism, Augustine was baptized as a Christian by Ambrose of Milan.
On his was back to Tagaste, Monica became ill and died in Ostia. Augustine wrote about, “An immeasurable sorrow” that “flowed into my heart.” Monica spent most of her life praying for her son. These prayers would lead to his conversion and becoming a giant in Christian theology, defining the nature of the Trinity and forming the framework of Medieval Catholic belief.
Augustine as Bishop of Hippo
Foreshadowing the Reformation, Augustine spoke of salvation as a product of God’s grace. His monumental City of God defined the human relationship with God, setting apart the kingdom of man. Augustine died as Bishop of Hippo on August 28, 430 during the invasion of the Vandals. Although his legacy is often measured in terms of his theological discourse, his life was a tribute to the love of Monica whose unending prayers resulted in Augustine’s conversion.
How St. Augustine Invented Sex
One day in 370 C.E., a sixteen-year-old boy and his father went to the public baths together in the provincial city of Thagaste, in what is now Algeria. At some point during their visit, the father may have glimpsed that the boy had an involuntary erection, or simply remarked on his recently sprouted pubic hair. Hardly a world-historical event, but the boy was named Augustine, and he went on to shape Christian theology for both Roman Catholics and Protestants, to explore the hidden recesses of the inner life, and to bequeath to all of us the conviction that there is something fundamentally damaged about the entire human species. There has probably been no more important Western thinker in the past fifteen hundred years.
In the “Confessions,” written around 397, Augustine described what happened in the bathhouse many years earlier. That day, Patricius, his father, saw in him the signs of inquieta adulescentia, restless young manhood, and was—in Sarah Ruden’s new, strikingly colloquial translation—“over the moon” at the thought of someday soon having grandchildren. It is easy, even across a vast distance in time, to conjure up a teen-ager’s exquisite embarrassment. But what fixed itself in Augustine’s memory, instead, is something that happened when they got home: “In his glee he told my mother—it was the sort of tipsy glee in which this sorry world has forgotten you, its creator, and fallen in love instead with something you’ve created.” (Augustine’s “Confessions” are addressed to his God.) His mother, Monica, was a pious Christian and responded very differently. Since God had already started to build his temple in her breast, she “endured a violent spasm of reverent, tremulous trepidation.” The unbaptized adolescent’s sexual maturity had become the occasion—not the first and certainly not the last—for a serious rift between his parents.
Patricius did not concern himself with his son’s spiritual development in the light of Jesus, nor did he regard the evidence of his son’s virility with anything but delight. In response, Monica set out to drive a wedge between son and father. “She made a considerable bustle,” Augustine writes, admiringly, “to ensure that you, my God, were my father, rather than him.”
About one thing the father and mother agreed: their brilliant son should obtain the education his gifts deserved. The young Augustine had been sent to study in the pleasant town of Madauros and had shown remarkable facility in literary interpretation and performance. The university at Carthage seemed within reach—followed, possibly, by a lucrative career in law or public speaking. Patricius, a man of modest means, scrimped and networked for a year to collect the needed funds. When Augustine left Thagaste, he must have seen his father for the last time, for in the “Confessions” he mentions that when he was seventeen Patricius died. The mention is a conspicuously cool one.
If the grieving widow also felt some relief at his death—given that he was a dangerous influence on her beloved son—any hopes she might have had that Augustine would embark at once on the path of chastity were quickly dashed. “I came to Carthage,” he writes, “to the center of a skillet where outrageous love affairs hissed all around me.” His confession that he polluted “the shared channel of friendship with putrid rutting” sounds like an overheated account of masturbation or homosexuality other, equally intense and equally cryptic phrases evoke a succession of unhappy affairs with women. The feverish promiscuity, if that is what it was, resolved fairly quickly into something quite stable. Within a year or two, Augustine had settled down with a woman with whom he lived and to whom, in his account, he was faithful for the next fourteen years.
The arrangement was probably the best that Monica could have envisaged at this stage for her son, given his restless sexual energies. What she most feared was a hasty marriage that might hinder his career. Merely living with a woman posed much less of a threat, even when the woman gave birth to a son, Adeodatus. By the standards of the time, the relationship was a respectable one. At least from Augustine’s perspective—and that is the only perspective we have—there was no thought of his marrying the woman, whose name he does not even bother to provide. He expects his readers to understand the difference “between the sanctioned scope of marriage, a bond contracted for the purpose of producing children, and a deal arising from lustful infatuation.”
Priding himself on his intelligence and his literary sensitivity, he studied law he honed his rhetorical skills he entered dramatic competitions he consulted astrologers he mastered the complex, sinuous system of thought associated with the Persian cult known as Manichaeanism. Augustine carried his Manichaeanism, along with his mistress and his son, from Carthage to Thagaste, where he taught literature, and then back to Carthage, where he gave courses on public speaking, and then to Milan, where he took up an illustrious professorship of rhetoric.
In Augustine’s decade-long ascent, there was one major problem, and her name was Monica. When he arrived at Thagaste for his first teaching position, Augustine’s mother was loath to share a house with him, not because of his mistress and child but, rather, because of his Manichaean beliefs. Those beliefs—the conviction that there were two forces, one good and the other evil, at war in the universe—were repugnant to her, and she made a conspicuous show of weeping bitterly, as if her son had died.
Her tears were redoubled when, back at Carthage, he prepared to leave for Rome: “She was hanging onto me coercively, trying to either stop my journey or come along with me on it.” Lying, he told her that he was only seeing off a friend, and persuaded her to spend the night at a shrine near the harbor. “I got away, and got away with it.”
The son must have felt some guilt. And yet, in remembering this moment, he allowed himself for once to express some anger toward his mother: “Her longing, which was physical, was taking a beating from the justified whip of sorrow.” The phrase Augustine uses for this longing—carnale desiderium—might seem more appropriate for a lover than for a mother. Monica had taken whatever was blocked or unsatisfied in her relationship with her husband and transferred it to her son. Augustine, suffocating, had to flee. And the suffering that his escape visited upon her was, he reflects, her due as a woman: “these tortures revealed the vestiges of Eve she had within her, as with groans she searched for what she had given birth to with groans.”
In Genesis, the consequence of Eve’s disobedience is twofold: women are condemned to bring forth children in pain and to yearn for the husbands who dominate them. As Augustine looks back at his relation to his mother, child and husband are merged in him: she brought him with sorrow into the world and she sought him with sorrow through the world. For his grieving mother’s search for her son did not end at the harbor in Carthage. A few years later, when Augustine took up his post in Milan, Monica sailed from North Africa to join him.
This time, he did not flee. Though he was not ready to be baptized a Catholic, he told his mother that he had been deeply impressed by Ambrose, the Catholic bishop of Milan. Ambrose’s powerful sermons helped to undermine Augustine’s contempt for the apparent crudeness of the Bible’s stories. What had originally struck him as absurdities began to seem like profound mysteries. His long-held intellectual and aesthetic certainties were crumbling.
All the while, Augustine’s career continued on its course. He met his students in the morning, and spent his afternoons with his close friends, discussing philosophy. His mother, now settled in his household, sought to change her son’s life. She busied herself with arranging a favorable marriage, and found a suitable Catholic heiress whose parents agreed to the match. The girl was almost two years shy of marriageable age, though, and so the wedding had to wait.
In the meantime, Monica engineered another change in her son’s life. The woman with whom he had been living “was torn from my side, because she was supposed to be an obstacle to my marriage,” Augustine writes. “My heart, which had fused with hers, was mutilated by the wound, and I limped along trailing blood.” Of his mistress’s feelings, he gives us no glimpse, noting simply, “She went back to Africa, vowing to you that she would never know another man.” Then she is gone from his account, leaving him with the gnawing sexual appetite that she had served to appease. He quickly took another mistress.
Yet, as he soon came to testify, God’s grace works in strange ways. In little more than a year’s time, Augustine had converted to the Catholic faith. Shortly thereafter, now baptized, he broke off his engagement to marry, resigned his professorship, vowed himself to perpetual chastity, and determined to return to Africa and found a monastic community. By running away from his mother, he had, without realizing it, embarked on a spiritual journey that would surpass her utmost dreams.
Characteristically, he was able to embrace Lady Continence, as he put it, only in the context of a much larger rethinking of the nature of sexuality. He needed to understand the peculiar intensity of arousal, compulsive urgency, pleasure, and pain that characterizes the human fulfillment of desire. He was not looking back on these feelings from the safe perch of a diminished libido, or deluding himself that they were abnormal. As a young man who had already fathered a child, he knew that, for the entire human species, reproduction entailed precisely the sexual intercourse that he was bent on renouncing. How could the highest Christian religious vocation reject something so obviously natural? In the course of answering this question, Augustine came to articulate a profoundly influential and still controversial vision of sexuality, one that he reached not only by plumbing his deepest experiences but also by projecting himself back into the remotest human past.
In the Roman port of Ostia, a few days before setting sail for Africa, Augustine and his mother were standing by a window that looked out onto an enclosed garden, and talking intimately. Their conversation, serene and joyful, led them to the conclusion that no bodily pleasure, no matter how great, could ever match the happiness of the saints. And then, “stretching upward with a more fiery emotion,” Augustine and Monica experienced something remarkable: they felt themselves climbing higher and higher, through all the degrees of matter and through the heavenly spheres and, higher still, to the region of their own souls and up toward the eternity that lies beyond time itself. And “while we were speaking and panting for it, with a thrust that required all the heart’s strength, we brushed against it slightly.”
It is difficult to convey in translation the power of the account, and of what it meant for the thirty-two-year-old son and the fifty-five-year-old mother to reach this climax together. Then it was over: suspiravimus. “We sighed,” Augustine writes, and returned to the sound of their speech.
The moment of ecstasy that Augustine and his mother shared was the most intense experience in his life—perhaps, as Rebecca West remarked, “the most intense experience ever commemorated.” A few days later, Monica fell ill, and died soon after. The “Confessions” does not take the story of Augustine’s life further. Instead, it turns to a philosophical meditation on memory and an interpretation of the opening of Genesis, as if that were where his whole autobiography had been heading. Why Genesis? And why, in the years that followed, did his attention come to focus particularly on the story of Adam and Eve?
Pagans ridiculed that story as primitive and ethically incoherent. How could a god worthy of respect try to keep humans from the knowledge of good and evil? Jews and Christians of any sophistication preferred not to dwell upon it or distanced themselves by treating it as an allegory. For Philo, a Greek-speaking Jew in first-century Alexandria, the first human—the human of the first chapter of Genesis—was not a creature of flesh and blood but a Platonic idea. For Origen, a third-century Christian, Paradise was not a place but a condition of the soul.
The archaic story of the naked man and woman, the talking snake, and the magical trees was something of an embarrassment. It was Augustine who rescued it from the decorous oblivion to which it seemed to be heading. He bears principal responsibility for its prominence, including the fact that four in ten Americans today profess to believe in its literal truth. During the more than forty years that succeeded his momentous conversion—years of endless controversy and the wielding of power and feverish writing—he persuaded himself that it was no mere fable or myth. It was the key to everything.
He brought to his interpretation not only his philosophical acumen but also memories that reached back decades—to the signs of inquieta adulescentia that made his father babble excitedly to his wife about grandchildren. Through a sustained reflection on Adam and Eve, Augustine came to understand that what was crucial in his experience was not the budding of sexual maturity but, rather, its unquiet, involuntary character. More than fifty years later, he was still brooding on this fact. Other parts of the body are in our power, if we are healthy, to move or not to move as we wish. “But when it must come to man’s great function of the procreation of children,” he writes, “the members which were expressly created for this purpose will not obey the direction of the will, but lust has to be waited for to set these members in motion, as if it had legal right over them.”
How weird it is, Augustine thought, that we cannot simply command this crucial part of the body. We become aroused, and the arousal is within us—it is in this sense fully ours—and yet it is not within the executive power of our will. Obviously, the model here is the male body, but he was certain that women must have some equivalent experience, not visible but essentially identical. That is why, in the wake of their transgression, both the first woman and the first man felt shame and covered themselves.
Augustine returned again and again to the same set of questions: Whose body is this, anyway? Where does desire come from? Why am I not in command of my own penis? “Sometimes it refuses to act when the mind wills, while often it acts against its will!” Even the aged monk in his cell, Augustine acknowledges, in “Against Julian,” is tormented by “disquieting memories” crowding in upon “chaste and holy intentions.” Nor can the most pious married couple get anywhere “without the ardor of lust.”
And this ardor, to which Augustine gives the technical name “concupiscence,” was not simply a natural endowment or a divine blessing it was a touch of evil. What a married man and woman who intend to beget a child do together is not evil, Augustine insisted it is good. “But the action is not performed without evil.” True, sexual intercourse—as Augustine knew from long experience with his mistress and others—is the greatest bodily pleasure. But the surpassing intensity of pleasure is precisely its dangerous allure, its sweet poison: “Surely any friend of wisdom and holy joys . . . would prefer, if possible, to beget children without lust.”
Augustine’s tortured recognition that involuntary arousal was an inescapable presence—not only in conjugal lovemaking but also in what he calls the “very movements which it causes, to our sorrow, even in sleep, and even in the bodies of chaste men”—shaped his most influential idea, one that transformed the story of Adam and Eve and weighed down the centuries that followed: originale peccatum, original sin.
This idea became one of the cornerstones of Christian orthodoxy—but not before decades of dispute. Chief among those who found it both absurd and repulsive was a British-born monk, Pelagius. Almost exactly Augustine’s contemporary, he was in a certain sense his secret sharer: an upstart from the margins of the Roman world who by force of intellect, charisma, and ambition made his way to the great capital and had a significant impact upon the empire’s spiritual life.
Pelagius and his followers were moral optimists. They believed that human beings were born innocent. Infants do not enter the world with a special endowment of virtue, but neither do they carry the innate stain of vice. True, we are all descendants of Adam and Eve, and we live in a world rife with the consequences of their primordial act of disobedience. But that act in the distant past does not condemn us inescapably to sinfulness. How could it? What would be the mechanism of infection? Why would a benevolent God permit something so monstrous? We are at liberty to shape our own lives, whether to serve God or to serve Satan.
Augustine countered that we are all marked, in our very origins, with evil. It is not a matter of particular acts of cruelty or violence, specific forms of social pathology, or this or that person who has made a disastrous choice. It is hopelessly shallow and naïve to think, as the Pelagians do, that we begin with a blank slate or that most of us are reasonably decent or that we have it in our power to choose good. There is something deeply, essentially wrong with us. Our whole species is what Augustine called a massa peccati, a mass of sin.
The Pelagians said that Augustine was simply reverting to the old Manichaean belief that the flesh was the creation and the possession of a wicked force. Surely this was a betrayal of Christianity, with its faith in a Messiah who became flesh. Not so, Augustine responded. It is true that God chose to become man, but he did this “of a virgin, whose conception, not flesh but spirit, not lust but faith, preceded.” Jesus’ existence, in other words, did not depend upon the minutest touch of that ardor through which all other human beings are generated: “Holy virginity became pregnant, not by conjugal intercourse, but by faith—lust being utterly absent—so that that which was born from the root of the first man might derive only the origin of race, not also of guilt.”
The crucial word here is “guilt,” crimen. That we are not untouched by lust is our fault—not the result of God’s will but the consequence of something that we have done. It is here, when Augustine must produce evidence of our individual and collective perfidy, that he called in witness Adam and Eve. For the original sin that stains every one of us is not only a sin that inheres in our individual origins—that is, in the sexual arousal that enabled our parents to conceive us—but also a sin that may be traced back to the couple in whom our whole race originates. And now, in order to protect God from the charge that He was responsible for the innate defects in His creation, everything depended on Augustine somehow showing that in Paradise it could all have been otherwise that our progenitors Adam and Eve were not originally designed to reproduce as we now reproduce but that they perversely made the wrong choice, a choice in which we all participate. To do this, Augustine would have to burrow into the enigmatic words of Genesis more deeply than anyone had done before. He would have to reconstruct the lost lives of our remote ancestors. He would have to find his way back to the Garden of Eden and watch our first parents making love.
The way forward, he became convinced, was first and foremost to take the words of Genesis as literally true. The Hebrew origin story might seem like a folktale, of the sort he had looked down on when he was a young man. But the task of the true believer was not to treat it as the naïve covering of a sophisticated philosophical mystery. The task was to take it as the unvarnished representation of historical truth—to make it real—and to persuade others to take it that way as well.
Plunging into the project with characteristic confidence, Augustine embarked on a work, “The Literal Meaning of Genesis,” that aimed at discussing “the scriptures according to their proper meaning of what actually happened.” For some fifteen years, he labored on this work, resisting the urgings of his friends to complete it and make it public. Of all his many books, it was probably the one to which he devoted the most prolonged and sustained attention.
In the end, it defeated him, and he knew it. The problem is that not every word of Genesis can be taken literally, however much one tries, and there is no simple, reliable rule for the appropriate degree of literal-mindedness. The Bible tells us that after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit “the eyes of both of them were opened.” Does this mean that they had been made with eyes sealed shut “and left to wander about blind in the paradise of delights, feeling their way, and so to reach and touch all unawares the forbidden tree too, and on feeling the prohibited fruits to pick some without knowing it”? No, it cannot possibly mean this, for we have already learned that the animals were brought to Adam, who must have seen them before he named them and we have been told that Eve saw that the fatal tree was good for eating “and pleasing to the eye.” Still, Augustine reflects, just because one word or phrase is used metaphorically, “it does not mean that the whole passage is to be taken in a figurative sense.”
But how do you know? How did Eve know what the serpent meant when he said, to tempt her, “Your eyes will be opened”? It is not as if the stakes were low. For Augustine, at least, they could not have been higher: it was a matter of life or death, not only for the first parents but also for all their descendants. And yet there is no fixed rule for interpretation: “the writer of the book,” Augustine writes, “allowed readers to decide for themselves.”
Small wonder that Augustine took so long to write “The Literal Meaning of Genesis,” and that, whenever he could put his hands on it, he clung like a drowning man to the literal sense. In the case of “Your eyes will be opened,” he was certain that there must have been, after all, something that the couple actually saw for the first time after their transgression, something not merely metaphorical: “They turned their eyes on their own genitals, and lusted after them with that stirring movement they had not previously known.”
The key to this understanding had been hidden all along in Augustine’s own experience. The inquieta adulescentia that delighted the adolescent’s father and horrified his mother could now be traced all the way back to the original moment when Adam and Eve felt both lust and shame. They saw for the first time what they had never seen before, and, if the sight aroused them, it also impelled them to reach for the fig leaves to cover as with a veil “that which was put into motion without the will of those who wished it.” Until this moment, they had possessed—for the only time, Augustine thought, in the whole history of the human race—perfect freedom. Now, because they had spontaneously, inexplicably, and proudly chosen to live not for God but for themselves, they had lost their freedom. And they were ashamed.
But what was the alternative that they—and we—lost forever? How, specifically, were they meant to reproduce, if it was not in the way that all humans have done for as long as anyone can remember? In Paradise, Augustine argued, Adam and Eve would have had sex without involuntary arousal: “They would not have had the activity of turbulent lust in their flesh, however, but only the movement of peaceful will by which we command the other members of the body.” Without feeling any passion—without sensing that strange goad—“the husband would have relaxed on his wife’s bosom in tranquility of mind.”
How would this have been possible, the Pelagians asked, if the bodies of Adam and Eve were substantially the same as our bodies? Just consider, Augustine replied, that even now, in our current condition, some people can do things with their bodies that others find impossible. “Some people can even move their ears, either one at a time or both together.” Others, as he personally had witnessed, could sweat whenever they chose, and there were even people who could “produce at will such musical sounds from their behind (without any stink) that they seem to be singing from that region.” So why should we not imagine that Adam, in his uncorrupted state, could have quietly willed his penis to stiffen, just enough to enter Eve? It all would have been so calm that the seed could have been “dispatched into the womb, with no loss of the wife’s integrity, just as the menstrual flux can now be produced from the womb of a virgin without loss of maidenhead.” And for the man, too, there would have been “no impairment of his body’s integrity.”
This was how it was all meant to be for Adam and Eve. But, Augustine concludes, it never happened, not even once. Their sin happened first, “and they incurred the penalty of exile from paradise before they could unite in the task of propagation as a deliberate act undisturbed by passion.” So what was the point of this whole exercise of trying to imagine their sex life? It was bound up with Christian polemic and Christian doctrine—with an attempt to refute the Manichaeans and the Pelagians and with a vision of Jesus as the miraculous child of a virgin who became pregnant without the experience of ardor. Along with these doctrinal purposes, Augustine’s obsessive engagement with the story of Adam and Eve spoke to something in his life. What he discovered—or, more truthfully, invented—about sex in Paradise proved to him that humans were not originally meant to feel whatever it was that he experienced as an adolescent and afterward. It proved to him that he was not meant to feel the impulses that drew him to the fleshpots of Carthage. Above all, it proved to him that he, at least in the redeemed state for which he longed, was not meant to feel what he had felt again and again with his mistress: the mother of his only child the woman he sent away at his mother’s behest the one who declared that she would never be with another man, as he would never be with another woman the one whose separation from him felt, he wrote, like something ripped from his side.
Adam had fallen, Augustine wrote in “The City of God,” not because the serpent had deceived him. He chose to sin, and, in doing so, he lost Paradise, because he could not endure being severed from his sole companion. Augustine had, as best he could within the limits of his fallen condition, undone Adam’s fatal choice. With the help of his sainted mother, he had severed himself from his companion and had tried to flee from ardor, from arousal. He had fashioned himself, to the best of his extraordinary abilities, on the model of the unfallen Adam, a model he had struggled for many years to understand and to explicate. True, he still had those involuntary dreams, those unwelcome stirrings, but what he knew about Adam and Eve in their state of innocence reassured him that someday, with Jesus’ help, he would have total control over his own body. He would be free. ♦
6. Anthropology: God and the Soul Soul and Body
6.1 Soul as a Created Being
Like most ancient philosophers, Augustine thinks that the human being is a compound of body and soul and that, within this compound, the soul&mdashconceived as both the life-giving element and the center of consciousness, perception and thought&mdashis, or ought to be, the ruling part. The rational soul should control the sensual desires and passions it can become wise if it turns to God, who is at the same time the Supreme Being and the Supreme Good. In his Manichean phase, he conceived of both God and the soul as material entities, the soul being in fact a portion of God that had fallen into the corporeal world where it remained a foreigner, even to its own body (De duabus animabus 1 Confessiones 8.22). After his Platonist readings in Milan had provided him with the adequate philosophical means to think about immaterial, non-spatial reality (Confessiones 7.1&ndash2 7.16), he replaced this view, which he later represents as a rather crude dualism, with an ontological hierarchy in which the soul, which is mutable in time but immutable in space, occupies a middle position between God, who is totally unchangeable immaterial being (cf. MacDonald 2014), and bodies, which are subject to temporal and spatial change (Letter 18.2). The soul is of divine origin and even god-like (De quantitate animae 2&ndash3) it is not divine itself but created by God (the talk about divinity of the soul in the Cassiciacum dialogues seems to be a traditional Ciceronian element, cf. Cary 2000: 77&ndash89 for a Plotinian interpretation see O&rsquoConnell 1968: 112&ndash131). In De quantitate animae, Augustine broadly argues that the &ldquogreatness&rdquo of the soul does not refer to spatial extension but to its vivifying, perceptive, rational and contemplative powers that enable it to move close to God and are compatible with and even presuppose immateriality (esp. ib. 70&ndash76 Brittain 2003). An early definition of soul as &ldquoa rational substance fitted for rule over a body&rdquo (ib. 22) echoes Platonic views (cf. the definition of the human being as &ldquoa rational soul with a body&rdquo in In Iohannis evangelium tractatus 19.15 O&rsquoDaly 1987: 54&ndash60). Later on, when the resurrection of the body becomes more important to him, Augustine emphasizes&mdashagainst Porphyry&rsquos alleged claim that in order to be happy, the soul must free itself from anything corporeal&mdashthat it is natural and even desirable for a soul to govern a body (De Genesi ad litteram 12.35.68), but he nevertheless remains convinced that soul is an incorporeal and immortal substance that can, in principle, exist independently of a body. In the Soliloquia (2.24), following the tradition of Plato and of Cicero&rsquos Tusculan Disputations, he proposes a proof for the immortality of the soul which he expressly introduces as an alternative to the final proof of the Phaedo (Soliloquia 2.23, cf. Phaedo 102d-103c). The proof is constructed from elements from Porphyry&rsquos Isagoge and his Commentary on Aristotle&rsquos Categories (rather elementary texts that Augustine would have encountered long before his Platonic readings at Milan) and seems to be original with him (Tornau 2017). It says that since truth is both eternal and in the soul as its subject, it follows that soul, the subject of truth, is eternal too. This is fallacious, because if truth is eternal independently of the soul it cannot be in the soul as in its subject (i.e., as a property), and if it is a property of the soul, it cannot ensure its eternity. In the incomplete draft of a third book of the Soliloquia preserved under the title De immortalitate animae, Augustine therefore modifies the proof and argues that soul is immortal because of the inalienable causal presence of God (= Truth) in it. It turns out however that even if this version of the proof is successful, it only demonstrates the soul&rsquos eternal existence as a (rational) soul but not its eternal wisdom (De immortalitate animae 19 Zum Brunn 1969: 17&ndash41 [1988: 9&ndash34]), in the hope of which the interlocutors had set out to prove the immortality of the soul in the first place (Soliloquia 2.1). After De immortalitate animae, Augustine never returned to his proof. But neither did he disown it as late as De trinitate (13.12), he endorses the Platonic axiom that soul is by nature immortal and that its immortality can, in principle, be proven by philosophical means. He also sticks to his conviction that immortality is a necessary condition of happiness but insists that it is not a sufficient condition, given that immortality and misery are compatible (cf. De civitate dei 9.15 on the misery of the wicked demons). True happiness will only be realized in the afterlife as a gift of God&rsquos grace, when, thanks to the resurrection of the body, not just the soul but the human being as a whole will live forever. Resurrection, however, is not susceptible of rational proof it is a promise of God that must be believed on Scriptural authority (De trinitate ib.).
Together with an essentially Platonic notion of the soul, Augustine inherits the classical problems of Platonic soul-body dualism. How can soul fulfil its task of &ldquogoverning&rdquo the body (cf. De quantitate animae 22) if it is incorporeal itself? And how are corporeal and psychic aspects related to each other in phenomena that involve both body and soul, especially if, like passions and desires, these are morally relevant? These problems are further complicated by the Platonic axiom that incorporeal entities, being ontologically prior to corporeal ones, cannot be causally affected by them. Augustine&rsquos solution is indebted to Plotinus&rsquo strategy of making the relation of the soul to the bodily affections an essentially cognitive one (O&rsquoDaly 1987, 84&ndash87 Hölscher 1986, ch. 2.2.1 Nash 1969, 39&ndash59 Bermon 2001: 239&ndash281). With Plotinus, he insists that sense perception is not an affection which the soul passively undergoes (as Stoic materialism would have it, where sensory perception was interpreted as a kind of imprint in the soul) but its active awareness of affections undergone by the body (De quantitate animae 41 48 De Genesi ad litteram 7.14.20 Plotinus, Enneads I.4.2.3&ndash4 Brittain 2002: 274&ndash282). In De quantitate animae, the framework of this theory is the general argument that the relation of soul to body must be conceived of not in terms of space but of &ldquopower&rdquo (see above). In De musica (6.11), this is developed into the idea that sense perception is the soul&rsquos awareness of modifications of its own formative and vivifying activities that result from its reacting to the external impulses undergone by the body. In addition to the usual five senses, Augustine identifies a sensory faculty that relates the data of the senses to each other and judges them aesthetically (but not morally De musica 6.5 19) in De libero arbitrio (2.8&ndash13) he calls this the &ldquoinner sense&rdquo (on the Aristotelian background cf. O&rsquoDaly 1987: 102&ndash105).
In Neoplatonism it was disputed how soul, being immortal, immaterial and ontologically superior to body, came to be incorporated nevertheless. The basic options, present already in Plato&rsquos dialogues, were either that the disembodied soul had &ldquofallen&rdquo into the corporeal world because of some error (as in the Phaedrus myth) or that it had been sent into the cosmos by God to impart life and order to it (as in the Timaeus for harmonizing Neoplatonic exegeses, see Plotinus, Enneads IV.8, and Macrobius, Commentary on Cicero&rsquos Somnium Scipionis 1.10&ndash14). Augustine addresses the issue in the horizon of his doctrine of creation and, in the period of the Pelagian Controversy, of the debate about the transmission of original sin (see 9. Gender, Women and Sexuality). In De libero arbitrio (3.56&ndash59), he distinguishes the three options of creationism (God creates a new soul for every newborn body), traducianism (the soul is transmitted from the parents to the child like corporeal properties), and preexistence, which is subdivided into the Platonic options of voluntary or god-sent descent. After 412 all these options come to the fore again (Letters 143.5&ndash11 166 190 and the treatise De anima et eius origine). Augustine discards none of them officially except for the notion, wrongly associated with Origenism, which was considered a heresy at the time, that incorporation was a punishment for a sin committed by the pre-existent soul (De civitate dei 11.23). In practice, he narrows the debate down to the alternative between creationism and traducianism, which appear to have been the only options taken seriously by his Christian contemporaries. Augustine refused to take a stand till the end of his life, probably because neither option really suited his purposes (Rist 1994: 317&ndash320 O&rsquoConnell 1987 Mendelson 1998): Creationism made original sin very difficult to explain traducianism was functional in this respect, but it was a materialist and even biologist theory that ran counter to Augustine&rsquos Platonism and was further compromised because it had been brought up by his African predecessor Tertullian (d. c. 220 CE), a Stoicizing corporealist who had ended his life as a heretic (Rist 1994: 123).
6.2 The Human Mind as an Image of God
Augustine deploys what we may call his philosophy of the mind most fully in his great work on Nicene Trinitarian theology, De trinitate. Having removed apparent Scriptural obstacles to the equality and consubstantiality of the three divine persons (bks. 1&ndash4) and having set out the grammar, as it were, of adequate speaking about the Trinity by distinguishing absolute and relative propositions about God and the three Persons (bks. 5&ndash7 King 2012), he turns to an analysis of the human mind as an image of God (bks. 8&ndash15 Brachtendorf 2000 Ayres 2010 Bermon & O&rsquoDaly (eds.) 2012). The basis for this move is, of course, Genesis 1:26&ndash27. Augustine follows a long-standing Jewish and Patristic tradition, familiar to him from Ambrose, according to which the biblical qualification of the human being as an image of God referred not to the living body (a literalist reading vulnerable to the Manichean charge of anthropomorphism, cf. Confessiones 6.4) but to what is specifically human, i.e., the &ldquoinner man&rdquo (2 Corinthians 4:16, quoted, e.g., in De trinitate 11.1) or the mind (mens). Assuming, in a Platonist manner, that &ldquoimage&rdquo in this case does not merely mean an analogy but a causal effect of the original that reflects the essential features of the latter on a lower ontological level, he scrutinizes the human mind for triadic structures that meet the Nicene requirements of equality and consubstantiality and may thus give a&mdashhowever faint&mdashunderstanding of the Triune God. The general pattern of his argument is the Augustinian ascent from the external to the internal and from the senses to God but since human reason is, whether by nature or due to its fallen state, hardly capable of knowing God, Augustine this time is obliged to interrupt and re-start the ascent several times. The final book shows that the exercise of analyzing the human mind does have preparatory value for our thinking about the Trinity but does not yield insight into the divine by being simply transferred to it (De trinitate 15.10&ndash11). The three elements Augustine discerns in all our cognitive acts from sense perception to theoretical reason or contemplation are:  an object that is either external to the mind (as in sense perception) or internal to it, in which case it is an image or a concept stored in our memory  a cognitive faculty that must be activated or &ldquoformed&rdquo by the object if cognition is to come about  a voluntary or intentional element that makes the cognitive faculty turn to its object so as to be actually formed by it. The last element ensures the active character of perception and intellection but also gives weight to the idea that we do not cognize an object unless we consciously direct our attention to it (MacDonald 2012b). Though this triadic pattern is operative on all levels of human cognition, Augustine contends that only the mind&rsquos intellectual self-knowledge on the level of contemplative reason (its &ldquomemory of itself, knowledge of itself and love of itself&rdquo) qualifies as an image of God because only here are the three elements as closely related to each other as in the Nicene dogma and because they are as inalienable as the mind&rsquos immediate presence to itself (De trinitate 14.19). This idea is carefully prepared in Book 10, which contains one of Augustine&rsquos most remarkable arguments for the substantiality of the mind and its independence of the body (Stróżyński 2013 Brittain 2012a Matthews 2005: 43&ndash52 Bermon 2001, 357&ndash404). Augustine begins by arguing (in a manner reminiscent of his cogito-like argument see 5.1 Skepticism and Certainty) that the mind always already knows itself because it is always present to and hence aware of itself. This pre-reflexive self-awareness is presupposed by every act of conscious cognition. If so, however, the Delphic command &ldquoKnow thyself&rdquo cannot mean that the mind is to become acquainted with itself as if it had been unknown to itself before, but rather that it must become conscious of what it knew about itself all along and distinguish it from what it does not know about itself. As the mind in its fallen state is deeply immersed in sensible reality, it tends to forget what it really is and what it knows it is and confounds itself with the things it attaches the greatest importance to, i.e., sensible objects that give it pleasure. The result are materialist theories about the soul, which thus derive from flawed morality (De trinitate 10.11&ndash12). If it follows the Delphic command, however, the mind will realize that it knows with certainty that it exists, thinks, wills etc., whereas it can at best merely believe that it is air, fire or brain (ib. 10.13). And as the substance or essence of the mind cannot be anything other than what it knows with certainty about itself, it follows that nothing material is essential to the mind and that its essence must be sought in its mental acts (ib. 10.16). Full self-knowledge is reached, then, when the mind&rsquos inalienable self-awareness (se nosse, &ldquoto be acquainted with oneself&rdquo) is actualized to conscious &ldquoself-thinking&rdquo (se cogitare). How this relates to the mind&rsquos pre-reflexive presence to itself is not entirely clear (for problems of interpretation, see, e.g., Horn 2012 Brittain 2012b), but Augustine seems to think that not only the mind&rsquos intellectual self-thinking but already its immediate self-awareness is triadically structured and an image of the Triune God (De trinitate 14.7&ndash14). Again, the ethical side of the theory should not be overlooked. As a strong voluntary element is present in and necessary for an act of cognition, what objects (imaginations, thoughts) we cognize is morally relevant and indicative of our loves and desires. And while the triadic structure of the mind is its very essence and hence inalienable, Augustine insists that the mind is created in the image of God, not because it is capable of self-knowledge, but because it has the potential to become wise, i.e., to remember, know and love God, its creator (ib. 14.21&ndash22).
Maps are essential for any serious study, they help students of Roman history understand the geographical locations and historical backgrounds of the places mentioned in historical sources.
Hippo Regius HIPPO REGIUS (Ἱππὼν Βασιλικός: Ru. S. of Bonah), a maritime city of Numidia, which received its surname from its being a residence of the Numidian kings, but is of higher fame as the see of St. Augustine. It was a colony of Tyre, and stood 5 M. P. NW. of the river UBUS, on the W. side of a large bay to which it gave its name (HIPPONENSIS SINUS: Gulf of Bonah), as well as to the promontory above it, forming the W. headland of the bay (HIPPI PROM Ἵππου ῎ακρα: Ras el Hamrah). It grew into greater importance under the Romans, by whom it was made a colony and it continued to be one of the most flourishing cities of N. Africa, till it was destroyed by the Vandals in B.C. 430. It was during the progress of this siege that the great Augustine died. (Sal. Jug. 19 Hirt. Bell. Afr. 961 Strab. xvii. p.832 Mela, 1.7 Plin. Nat. 5.3. s. 2 Itin. Ant. p. 20 Tab. Peut. Diod. 20.57 Sil. Ital. 1.3, 3.259 Shaw, Travels in Barbary, p. 44 Barth, Wanderungen, &c. p. 70). - Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, William Smith, LLD, Ed.
Hippo Regius is the ancient name of the modern city of Annaba, in Algeria. Under this name, it was a major city in Roman Africa, hosting several early Christian councils, and was the home of the philosopher and theologian Augustine of Hippo. In even earlier days, the city was a royal residence for Numidian kings. The climate is agreeable in winter, but humid in summer. The harbour serves as an export station for all of the rich inland country. Hippo was a Tyrian colony on the west coast of the bay to which it gave its name: Hipponensis Sinus, first settled by the Phoenicians probably in the 12th century BC the surname Regius 'of the King' was bestowed on it as one of the places where the Numidian kings resided. A maritime city near the mouth of the river Ubus, it became a Roman colonia which prospered and became a major city in Roman Africa. It is perhaps most famous as the bishopric of Saint Augustine of Hippo in his later years. In the summer of 430 the Vandals were besieging the city of Hippo as the aged bishop lay dying within. Shortly after his death on August 28, 430, they captured the city under King Geiseric after an 18-month siege in 431 and made it the capital of the Vandal kingdom in Northern Africa between 431 and 439. It was conquered by the Eastern Roman Empire in 534 and was kept under Byzantine rule until 698, when it fell to the Muslims the Arabs rebuilt the town in the seventh century. The city's later history was under its modern name. About three kilometres distant the Arabs in the eleventh century established the town of Beleb-el-Anab, which the Spaniards occupied for some years in the sixteenth century, as the French did later, in the reign of Louis XIV. France took this town again in 1832. It was renamed Bone or Bona, and became one of the government centres for the department of Constantine in Algeria. It had 37,000 inhabitants, of whom 15,700 were French, 10,500 foreigners, mostly Italians, 9,400 Muslims and 1400 naturalized Jews. - Wikipedia
Ancient World History
In this early period at Carthage he also became involved with the ideas of Mani and Manichaeanism, which taught that good and evil are primarily ontological realities, responsible for the unequal, tension-filled cosmos in which we live.
However, the inability of their leaders to solve Augustine’s problems eventually led the young teacher to distance himself from the group. Leaving the unruly students of Carthage in 383, Augustine attempted to teach at Rome only to abandon the capital in favor of a court position in Milan the following year.
This step brought him into contact with the bishop of Milan, Ambrose, whose preaching was instrumental—along with the writings of the philosophers of Neoplatonism—in convincing Augustine of the truth of Christianity. He could not commit himself to the moral obligations of baptism, however, because of his inability to live a life of continence.
His struggle for chastity is movingly told in his autobiographical work Confessions: Hearing of the heroic virtue of some contemporaries who abandoned everything to become monks, Augustine felt the same high call to absolute surrender to God but was held back by his attachment to the flesh. However, in a moment of powerful grace which came from reading Romans 13:12, he was able to reject his sinful life and to choose a permanent life of chastity as a servant of God.
This decision led him first to receive baptism at Ambrose’s hands (Easter 387 c.e.) and then to return to North Africa to establish a monastery in his native town of Tagaste. In 391 he was ordained a priest for the town of Hippo, followed by his consecration as bishop in 395.
In his 35 years as bishop Augustine wrote numerous sermons, letters, and treatises that exhibit his penetrating grasp of the doctrines of the Catholic faith, his clear articulation of difficult problems, his charitable defense of the truth before adversaries and heretics, and his saintly life.
Augustine’s theology was largely shaped by three heresies that he combated during his episcopacy: Manicheanism, Donatism, and Pelagianism. As a former Manichee himself, he was intent on challenging their dualistic notion of god: He argued that there is only one God, who is good and who created a good world. Evil is not a being opposed to God but a privation of the good, and therefore has no existence of itself.
Physical evil is a physical imperfection whose causes are to be found in the material world. Moral evil is the result of a wrong use of free will. In fighting Donatism, Augustine dealt with an ingrained church division that held that the clerics of the church had themselves to be holy in order to perform validly the sacraments through which holiness was passed to the congregation.
In rebutting the Donatists, Augustine laid the foundation for sacramental theology for centuries to come. He insisted that the church on earth is made up of saints and sinners who struggle in the midst of temptations and trials to live a more perfect life. The church’s holiness comes not from the holiness of her members but from Christ who is the head of the church.
Christ imparts his holiness to the church through the sacraments, which are performed by the bishops and priests as ministers of Christ. In the sacraments Christ is the main agent, and the ministers are his hands and feet on earth, bringing the graces of the head to the members.
Augustine’s last battle was in defense of grace. Pelagius, a British monk, believed that the vast majority of people were spiritually lazy. What they needed was to exert more willpower to overcome their vices and evil habits and to do good works.
Pelagius denied that humans inherit original sin of their ancestor Adam, the legal guilt inherent in the sin, or its effects on the soul, namely a weakening of the will with an inclination toward sin. He believed that human nature, essentially good, is capable of good and holy acts on its own. In his thought grace is only given by God as an aid to enlighten the mind in its discernment of good and evil.
For Augustine, whose own conversion was due to an immense grace of God, the attribution of goodness to the human will was tantamount to blasphemy. God and only God was holy. If humanity could accomplish any good at all, it was because God’s grace—won through the merits of Jesus (Christ) of Nazareth—was freely given to aid the will in choosing good.
Grace strengthens the will by attracting it through innate love to what is truly good. Thus Christ’s redemption not only remits the sins of one’s past but continually graces the life of the believer in all his or her moral choices. In the midst of this long controversy (c. 415) Augustine also developed a theology of the fall of Adam, of original sin, and of predestination.
Augustine is probably best known for his Confessions, his autobiography up to the time of his return to North Africa, and for the City of God, undertaken as his response to both the pagans and the Christians after the sacking of Rome in 410, the former because they attributed it wrongly to divine retribution and the latter because their faith was shaken by the horrific event.