Augustine: confessions



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effigiem Christi in the human soul.

25Cf. Ps. 78:39.

26Cf. Ps. 72:27.

27Aeneid, VI, 457

28Cf. Aeneid, II.

29Lignum is a common metaphor for the cross; and it was often joined to the figure of Noah's ark, as the means of safe transport from earth to heaven.

30This apostrophe to "the torrent of human custom" now switches its focus to the poets who celebrated the philanderings of the gods; see De civ. Dei, II, vii-xi; IV, xxvi-xxviii.

31Probably a contemporary disciple of Cicero (or the Academics) whom Augustine had heard levy a rather common philosopher's complaint against Olympian religion and the poetic myths about it. Cf. De Labriolle, I, 21 (see Bibl.).

32Terence, Eunuch., 584-591; quoted again in De civ. Dei, II, vii.

33Aeneid, I, 38.

34Cf. Ps. 103:8 and Ps. 86:15.

35Ps. 27:8.

36An interesting mixed reminiscence of Enneads, I, 5:8 and Luke 15:13-24.

37Ps. 123:1.

38Matt. 19:14.

39Another Plotinian echo; cf. Enneads, III, 8:10.

40Yet another Plotinian phrase; cf. Enneads, I, 6, 9:1-2.

41Cf. Gen. 3:18 and De bono conjugali, 8-9, 39-35 (N-PNF, III, 396-413).

421 Cor. 7:28.

431 Cor. 7:1.

441 Cor. 7:32, 33.

45Cf. Matt. 19:12.

46Twenty miles from Tagaste, famed as the birthplace of Apuleius, the only notable classical author produced by the province of Africa.

47Another echo of the De profundis (Ps. 130:1)--and the most explicit statement we have from Augustine of his motive and aim in writing these "confessions."

48Cf. 1 Cor. 3:9.

49Ps. 116:16.

50Cf. Jer. 51:6; 50:8.

51Cf. Ps. 73:7.

52Cicero, De Catiline, 16.

53Deus summum bonum et bonum verum meum.

54Avertitur, the opposite of convertitur: the evil will turns the soul away from God; this is sin. By grace it is turned to God; this is conversion.

55Ps. 116:12.

56Ps. 19:12.

57Cf. Matt. 25:21.

58Cf. Job 2:7, 8.

592 Cor. 2:16.

60Eversores, "overturners," from overtere, to overthrow or ruin. This was the nickname of a gang of young hoodlums in Carthage, made up largely, it seems, of students in the schools.

61A minor essay now lost. We know of its existence from other writers, but the only fragments that remain are in Augustine's works: Contra Academicos, III, 14:31; De beata vita, X; Soliloquia, I, 17; De civitate Dei, III, 15; Contra Julianum, IV, 15:78; De Trinitate, XIII, 4:7, 5:8; XIV, 9:12, 19:26; Epist. CXXX, 10.

62Note this merely parenthetical reference to his father's death and contrast it with the account of his mother's death in Bk. IX, Chs. X-XII.

63Col. 2:8, 9.

64I.e., Marcus Tullius Cicero.

65These were the Manicheans, a pseudo-Christian sect founded by a Persian religious teacher, Mani (c. A.D. 216-277). They professed a highly eclectic religious system chiefly distinguished by its radical dualism and its elaborate cosmogony in which good was co-ordinated with light and evil with darkness. In the sect, there was an esoteric minority called perfecti, who were supposed to obey the strict rules of an ascetic ethic; the rest were auditores, who followed, at a distance, the doctrines of the perfecti but not their rules. The chief attraction of Manicheism lay in the fact that it appeared to offer a straightforward, apparently profound and rational solution to the problem of evil, both in nature and in human experience. Cf. H.C. Puech, Le ManichŽisme, son fondateur--sa doctrine (Paris, 1949); F.C. Burkitt, The Religion of the Manichees (Cambridge, 1925); and Steven Runciman, The Medieval Manichee (Cambridge, 1947).

66James 1:17.

67Cf. Plotinus, Enneads, V, 3:14.

68Cf. Luke 15:16.

69Cf. Ovid, Metamorphoses, VII, 219-224.

70For the details of the Manichean cosmogony, see Burkitt, op. cit., ch. 4.

71Prov. 9:18.

72Cf. Prov. 9:17; see also Prov. 9:13 (Vulgate text).

73Cf. Enchiridion, IV.

74Cf. Matt. 22:37-39.

75Cf. 1 John 2:16. And see also Bk. X, Chs. XXX-XLI, for an elaborate analysis of them.

76Cf. Ex. 20:3-8; Ps. 144:9. In Augustine's Sermon IX, he points out that in the Decalogue three commandments pertain to God and seven to men.

77Acts 9:5.

78An example of this which Augustine doubtless had in mind is God's command to Abraham to offer up his son Isaac as a human sacrifice. Cf. Gen. 22:1, 2.

79Electi sancti. Another Manichean term for the perfecti, the elite and "perfect" among them.

80Ps. 144:7.

81Dedocere me mala ac docere bona; a typical Augustinian wordplay.

82Ps. 50:14.

83Cf. John 6:27.

84Ps. 74:21.

85Cf. Ps. 4:2.

86The rites of the soothsayers, in which animals were killed, for auguries and propitiation of the gods.

87Cf. Hos. 12:1.

88Ps. 41:4.

89John 5:14.

90Ps. 51:17.

91Vindicianus; see below, Bk. VII, Ch. VI, 8.

92James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5.

93Rom. 5:5.

94Cf. Ps. 106:2.

95Cf. Ps. 42:5; 43:5.

96Ibid.

97Cf. Ovid, Tristia, IV, 4:74.

98Cf. Horace, Ode I, 3:8, where he speaks of Virgil, et serves animae dimidium meae. Augustine's memory changes the text here to dimidium animae suae.

992 Tim. 4:3.

100Ps. 119:142.

101Ps. 80:3.

102That is, our physical universe.

103Ps. 19:5.

104John 1:10.

105De pulchro et apto; a lost essay with no other record save echoes in the rest of Augustine's aesthetic theories. Cf. The Nature of the Good Against the Manicheans, VIII-XV; City of God, XI, 18; De ordine, I, 7:18; II, 19:51; Enchiridion, III, 10; I, 5.

106Eph. 4:14.

107Ps. 72:18.

108Ps. 18:28.

109John 1:16.

110John 1:9.

111Cf. James 1:17.

112Cf. James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5.

113Ps. 78:39.

114Cf. Jer. 25:10; 33:11; John 3:29; Rev. 18:23.

115Cf. Ps. 51:8.

116The first section of the Organon, which analyzes the problem of predication and develops "the ten categories" of essence and the nine "accidents." This existed in a Latin translation by Victorinus, who also translated the Enneads of Plotinus, to which Augustine refers infra, Bk. VIII, Ch. II, 3.

117Cf. Gen. 3:18.

118Again, the Prodigal Son theme; cf. Luke 15:13.

119Cf. Ps. 17:8.

120Ps. 35:10.

121Cf. Ps. 19:6.

122Cf. Rev. 21:4.

123Cf. Ps. 138:6.

124Ps. 8:7.

125Heb. 12:29.

126An echo of the opening sentence, Bk. I, Ch. I, 1.

127Cf. 1 Cor. 1:30.

128Cf. Matt. 22:21.

129Cf. Rom. 1:21ff.

130Cf. Rom. 1:23.

131Cf. Rom. 1:25.

132Wis. 11:20.

133Cf. Job 28:28.

134Eph. 4:13, 14.

135Ps. 36:23 (Vulgate).

136Ps. 142:5.

137Cf. Eph. 2:15.

138Bk. I, Ch. XI, 17.

139Cf. Ps. 51:17.

140A constant theme in The Psalms and elsewhere; cf. Ps. 136.

141Cf. Ps. 41:4.

142Cf. Ps 141:3f.

143Followers of the skeptical tradition established in the Platonic Academy by Arcesilaus and Carneades in the third century B.C. They taught the necessity of epoch, suspended judgment, in all questions of truth, and would allow nothing more than the consent of probability. This tradition was known in Augustine's time chiefly through the writings of Cicero; cf. his Academica. This kind of skepticism shook Augustine's complacency severely, and he wrote one of his first dialogues, Contra Academicos, in an effort to clear up the problem posed thereby.

144The Manicheans were under an official ban in Rome.

145Ps. 139:22.

146A mixed figure here, put together from Ps. 4:7; 45:7; 104:15; the phrase sobriam vini ebrietatem is almost certainly an echo of a stanza of one of Ambrose's own hymns, Splendor paternae gloriae, which Augustine had doubtless learned in Milan: "Bibamus sobriam ebrietatem spiritus." Cf. W.I. Merrill, Latin Hymns (Boston, 1904), pp. 4, 5.

147Ps. 119:155.

148Cf. 2 Cor. 3:6. The discovery of the allegorical method of interpretation opened new horizons for Augustine in Biblical interpretation and he adopted it as a settled principle in his sermons and commentaries; cf. M. Pontet, L'ExŽgse de Saint Augustin prŽdicateur (Lyons, 1946).

149Cf. Ps. 71:5.

150Cf. Ps. 10:1.

151Cf. Luke 7:11-17.

152Cf. John 4:14.

153Rom. 12:11.

1542 Tim. 2:15.

155Cf. Gen. 1:26f.

156The Church.

1572 Cor. 3:6.

158Another reference to the Academic doctrine of suspendium (epoch); cf. Bk. V, Ch. X, 19, and also Enchiridion, VII, 20.

159Nisi crederentur, omnino in hac vita nihil ageremus, which should be set alongside the more famous nisi crederitis, non intelligetis (Enchiridion, XIII, 14). This is the basic assumption of Augustine's whole epistemology. See Robert E. Cushman, "Faith and Reason in the Thought of St. Augustine," in Church History (XIX, 4, 1950), pp. 271-294.

160Cf. Heb. 11:6.

161Cf. Plato, Politicus, 273 D.

162Alypius was more than Augustine's close friend; he became bishop of Tagaste and was prominent in local Church affairs in the province of Africa.

163Prov. 9:8.

164Luke 16:10.

165Luke 16:11, 12.

166Cf. Ps. 145:15.

167Here begins a long soliloquy which sums up his turmoil over the past decade and his present plight of confusion and indecision.

168Cf. Wis. 8:21 (LXX).

169Isa. 28:15.

170Ecclus. 3:26.

171The normal minimum legal age for marriage was twelve! Cf. Justinian, Institutiones, I, 10:22.

172Cf. Ps. 33:11.

173Cf. Ps. 145:15, 16.

174A variation on "restless is our heart until it comes to find rest in Thee," Bk. I, Ch. I, 1.

175Isa. 46:4.

176Thirty years old; although the term "youth" (juventus) normally included the years twenty to forty.

177Phantasmata, mental constructs, which may be internally coherent but correspond to no reality outside the mind.

178Echoes here of Plato's Timaeus and Plotinus' Enneads, although with no effort to recall the sources or elaborate the ontological theory.

179Cf. the famous "definition" of God in Anselm's ontological argument: "that being than whom no greater can be conceived." Cf. Proslogium, II-V.

180This simile is Augustine's apparently original improvement on Plotinus' similar figure of the net in the sea; Enneads, IV, 3:9.

181Gen. 25:21 to 33:20.

182Cf. Job 15:26 (Old Latin version).

183Cf. Ps. 103:9-14.

184James 4:6.

185Cf. John 1:14.

186It is not altogether clear as to which "books" and which "Platonists" are here referred to. The succeeding analysis of "Platonism" does not re­semble any single known text closely enough to allow for identification. The most reasonable conjecture, as most authorities agree, is that the "books" here mentioned were the Enneads of Plotinus, which Marius Victorinus (q.v. infra, Bk. VIII, Ch. II, 3-5) had translated into Latin several years before; cf. M.P. Garvey, St. Augustine: Christian or Neo­-Platonist (Milwaukee, 1939). There is also a fair probability that Augustine had acquired some knowledge of the Didaskalikos of Albinus; cf. R.E. Witt, Albinus and the History of Middle Platonism (Cambridge, 1937).

187Cf. this mixed quotation of John 1:1-10 with the Fifth Ennead and note Augustine's identification of Logos, in the Fourth Gospel, with Nous in Plotinus.

188John 1:11, 12

189John 1:13.

190John 1:14.

191Phil. 2:6.

192Phil. 2:7-11.

193Rom. 5:6; 8:32.

194Luke 10:21.

195Cf. Matt. 11:28, 29.

196Cf. Ps. 25:9, 18.

197Matt. 11:29.

198Rom. 1:21, 22.

199Rom. 1:23.

200An echo of Porphyry's De abstinentia ab esu animalium.

201The allegorical interpretation of the Israelites' despoiling the Egyptians (Ex. 12:35, 36) made it refer to the liberty of Christian thinkers in appropriating whatever was good and true from the pagan philosophers of the Greco-Roman world. This was a favorite theme of Clement of Alex­andria and Origen and was quite explicitly developed in Origen's Epistle to Gregory Thaumaturgus (ANF, IX, pp. 295, 296); cf. Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, II, 41-42.

202Cf. Acts 17:28.

203Cf. Rom. 1:25.

204Cf. Ps. 39:11.

205Some MSS. add "immo vero" ("yea, verily"), but not the best ones; cf. De Labriolle, op. cit., I, p. 162.

206Rom. 1:20.

207A locus classicus of the doctrine of the privative character of evil and the positive character of the good. This is a fundamental premise in Augus­tine's metaphysics: it reappears in Bks. XII-XIII, in the Enchiridion, and elsewhere (see note, infra, p. 343). This doctrine of the goodness of all creation is taken up into the scholastic metaphysics; cf. Confessions, Bks. XII-XIII, and Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra gentes, II: 45.

208Ps. 148:7-12.

209Ps. 148:1-5.

210"The evil which overtakes us has its source in self-will, in the entry into the sphere of process and in the primal assertion of the desire for self-ownership" (Plotinus, Enneads, V, 1:1).

211"We have gone weighed down from beneath; the vision is frustrated" (Enneads, VI, 9:4).

212Rom. 1:20.

213The Plotinian Nous.

214This is an astonishingly candid and plain account of a Plotinian ecstasy, the pilgrimage of the soul from its absorption in things to its rapturous but momentary vision of the One; cf. especially the Sixth Ennead, 9:3-11, for very close parallels in thought and echoes of language. This is one of two ecstatic visions reported in the Confessions; the other is, of course, the last great moment with his mother at Ostia (Bk. IX, Ch. X, 23-25). One comes before the "conversion" in the Milanese garden (Bk. VIII, Ch. XII, 28-29); the other, after. They ought to be compared with particular interest in their similarities as well as their significant differences. Cf. also K.E. Kirk, The Vision of God (London, 1932), pp. 319‑346.

2151 Tim. 2:5.

216Rom. 9:5.

217John 14:6.

218An interesting reminder that the Apollinarian heresy was condemned but not extinct.

219It is worth remembering that both Augustine and Alypius were catechumens and had presumably been receiving doctrinal instruction in preparation for their eventual baptism and full membership in the Catholic Church. That their ideas on the incarnation, at this stage, were in such confusion raises an interesting problem.

220Cf. Augustine's The Christian Combat as an example of "the refutation of heretics."

221Cf. 1 Cor. 11:19.

222Non peritus, sed periturus essem.

223Cf. 1 Cor. 3:11f.

224Rom. 7:22, 23.

225Rom. 7:24, 25.

226Cf. Prov. 8:22 and Col. 1:15. Augustine is here identifying the figure of Wisdom in Proverbs with the figure of the Logos in the Prologue to the Fourth Gospel. In the Arian controversy both these references to God's Wisdom and Word as "created" caused great difficulty for the orthodox, for the Arians triumphantly appealed to them as proof that Jesus Christ was a "creature" of God. But Augustine was a Chalcedonian before Chalcedon, and there is no doubt that he is here quoting familiar Scrip­ture and filling it with the interpretation achieved by the long struggle of the Church to affirm the coeternity and consubstantiality of Jesus Christ and God the Father.

227Cf. Ps. 62:1, 2, 5, 6.

228Cf. Ps. 91:13.

229A figure that compares the dangers of the solitary traveler in a bandit­-infested land and the safety of an imperial convoy on a main highway to the capital city.

230Cf. 1 Cor. 15:9.

231Ps. 35:10.

232Cf. Ps. 116:16, 17.

233Cf. Ps. 8:1.

2341 Cor. 13:12.

235Matt. 19:12.

236Rom. 1:21.

237Job 28:28.

238Prov. 3:7.

239Rom. 1:22.

240Col. 2:8.

241Virgil,
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