The years 385 and 386. The disease of curiositas is now brought to a crisis and largely cured. The central reading of the platonicorum libri and the `tentatives d'extase' that follow have been the object of much attention and controversy.
- 7.1.1 - 7.8.12
- Problems of God and evil: A.'s state of mind
- 7.6.8 - 7.6.10
- Fate and the stars (cf. 4.3.4-6)
- 7.9.13 - 7.9.15
- Reading the platonicorum libri
- 7.10.16 - 7.21.27
- Frustrated Ascent
- 7.11.17 - 7.16.22
- The Problem of Evil
- 7.18.24 - 7.21.27
- Christological Confusion: Turning to Paul
The search for `wisdom' dating to A.'s nineteenth year has been presented mainly as an intellectual inquiry. That inquiry comes to an end with Bk. 7, and we should not hesitate to grant that the formulations achieved here are for the most part those that A. will carry at least to his bishopric. What is surprising and unexpected, however, is that intellectual success proves so unsatisfactory. Bk. 8 relocates the inquiry on moral rather than intellectual terrain and finds resolution there; the Christological uncertainties of Bk. 7 and their resolution in Bk. 8 are an important link between the two.
The book reflects a structure of A.'s thought that du Roy has patiently excavated. A. comes, through reading the platonicorum libri, to a knowledge of the triune Godhead, a knowledge he may be thought to have shared on most essentials with some non-Christian philosophers. Then he began an ascent to a knowledge of the incarnate Christ, a knowledge not attained by the philosophers. This approach is the reverse of what, on A.'s own terms, it should be. On his theory, it should be the mediator of God and man, Christ Jesus, who introduces us to the full triune deity; but in practice (and du Roy shows how it is always this way for A.), it is the other way around. The trinity is accessible to philosophical speculation, the incarnate redeemer is not. Whether du Roy (esp. at 450-458) is correct to suggest that this paradox is responsible for constraining A.'s trinitarian thought within limits it might otherwise have transcended is another matter.1
But A. was always a master of capturing in his words what many of his readers have had trouble retaining or expressing, the tension of the middle time between redemption and resurrection, between conversion and beatific vision. The middle time is the time of paradox, and many of the perplexities to which A. gives voice, and to which he does not give satisfactory monovalent solutions (e.g., the dilemma of grace versus freedom: by `satisfactory' I mean a solution that would remove an issue from further debate among his heirs) are themselves reflections of this time of paradox in which A. saw himself living. Faith seeks understanding in A., with profound awareness that the search is unending; but that awareness came slowly. Where at the outset (e.g., at the time of which he writes here), satisfactory monovalent solutions were certainly what he sought, by the time at which he writes here a fruitful `disenchantment' 2 has supervened. Scholarship that reproaches A. for not finding those solutions is often itself inadequately disenchanted in that sense.
It remains true that, as du Roy repeatedly observes, it was A.'s own experience of God, as recounted in conf. and as abundantly displayed in his other works, that gives structure and direction to his theology. That western Christianity since has been so heavily influenced by A. means that many others have been led to think of God in ways that reflect the personal experience of this one man.
text of 7.1.1
See C. Baguette, REAug 16(1970), 47-77, discussing 7.1.1, 7.1.2, and 7.5.7 in detail. He goes too far when he take the description of A.'s state of mind through these paragraphs as a vivid and specific autobiographical record of a particular moment. Here A. rather puts on paper the view of God that he had carried with him unconsciously through Manicheism and skepticism and that he became aware of in terms like those reported here only when the platonicorum libri brought to light a new and different view. Thus the separation of these paragraphs from the account of the reading of the Platonists is one of narrative convenience rather than chronological sequence. To Baguette's identification of Stoic themes may be raised the general objection3 that doctrines introduced by the Stoics did not necessarily come to A. with the manufacturer's label intact. Baguette 57 quotes a conversation with Mandouze for the suggestion that the discussion here is still marked by Manicheism; there is truth to that, insofar as A.'s idea of God in his Manichean days was itself an eclectic mixture, guided and directed by the Manichees to be sure, but containing A.'s own contributions from his reading (and there was no such thing as pure untainted Manicheism, any more than there is ever pure untainted Christianity). Baguette's best evidence is to be found in the parallels he adduces from Cic. nat. deor. There, at least, he deals with a text A. certainly knew; whether the reflections here are signs of renewed contact with that text by A. in Milan (which would carry further the pattern of Cicero readings suggested above on 6.16.26) remains unclear.
adulescentia . . . iuventutem: For the ages of a man, see on 1.8.13. Milan and `youth' go together in memory: s. 318.1, `nobis iuvenibus apud Mediolanum constitutis'. Advance in age brought new capacity for understanding: vera rel. 24.45, `his ergo carnalibus vel corporalibus formis inhaerere amore pueros necesse est, adolescentes vero prope necesse est, hinc iam procedente aetate non est necesse.' If iuventus corresponds to the fourth day of creation, then it should be (and is here in Bk. 7) the time of the bringing of light (L. Pizzolato, Le fondazioni dello stile delle "Confessioni" [Milan, 1972], 83n8).
vanitate: See on 4.1.1, `vani'; 7.14.20, 8.1.2, and 10.35.57, taken together, suggest that this emptiness is associated with the concupiscence of the eyes and curiositas.
cogitare: Etymology (from Varro) at 10.11.18, `nam cogo et cogito sic est, ut ago et agito, facio et factito . . . cogitando quasi conligere'. See BA 16.606, note by Agaësse on trin. 10.5.7: `L'idée signifiée est donc celle de "grouper," de "rassembler." En raison de l'usage le mot en est venu à désigner l'acte par lequel l'âme rassemble les connaissances éparses et latentes dans la mémoire pour les poser en quelque sorte sous son propre regard et les amener ainsi à la conscience claire.' See below on `corporeum aliquid', and again in 7.1.2 and 7.4.6.
substantiae: strictly speaking, inappropriately predicated of God (see on 5.10.20): the use of the word here is thus a clue that A. was going about his inquiry the wrong way.
non te cogitabam, deus: Earlier moments in the struggle to think about God: 4.7.12, 4.16.29, 5.10.19.
in figura corporis humani: He had believed that catholic doctrine was anthropomorphic (5.10.19), and so the Manichees had attracted him with their anti-corporal views (3.7.12), but Ambrose had set him right (6.3.4, 6.4.5, 6.11.18, and here), so he was half-way to a solution of that one of the three Manichean `difficulties for Catholics' catalogued at 3.7.12. The first, the interpretive difficulties posed by the OT, had been set aside by Ambrose's preaching (see on 6.4.6), and the third, the origin of evil, will be addressed shortly (7.3.4) and resolved later in the book (7.11.17ff).
audire aliquid de sapientia coepi: See 3.4.7 (the Hortensius).
coepi, semper coepi, semper C D Maur. Knöll Skut. Ver.: coepissem per O S: coepi sed semper G
The semicolon after `humani' and a comma (for a semicolon) after `coepi' are new corrections; the punctuation has already been questioned, and a similar solution proposed, by A. Gabillon, Homo Spiritalis (Festschrift L. Verheijen: Würzburg, 1987), 440-441. Elsewhere, A. regularly uses indicative with ex quo (sc. tempore), e.g., civ. 3.3, 12.13, bapt. 1.15.23, 3.12.17 (2x).
gaudebam me hoc repperisse: At ep. 147.6.17, A. begins extended discussion of a text from Ambrose's in Luc. (which A. probably heard while in Milan) that speaks directly to the question of how one sees God, but the subtext is the anthropomorphic question: how to imagine God without limbs and eyes and hands. That letter, known separately under the title de videndo deo, is an important and beautiful text. He concludes: ep. 147.23.52, `tene mecum sancti viri Ambrosii sententiam iam non eius auctoritate sed ipsa veritate firmatam. neque enim et mihi propterea placet, quia per illius os potissimum me dominus ab errore liberavit et per illius ministerium gratiam mihi baptismi salutaris indulsit, tamquam plantatori et rigatori meo nimium faveam, sed quia de hac re et ipse hoc dixit, quod pie cogitanti et recte intellegenti loquitur etiam ille qui incrementum dat deus.' He then repeats the crucial quotation from 147.7.18; see also ep. 148.2.7, 148.2.10.
conabar: The verb of frustrated human effort, particularly of the mind struggling to ascent: see on 7.21.27, `conari'.
homo et talis homo: = Augustine, as at 1.1.1 and elsewhere.
solum et verum deum: Jn. 17.3, `ut cognoscant te solum deum verum'.
incommutabilem: The immutability of God can scarcely be called a Christian doctrine, insofar as there is little explicit Christian scripture to warrant such an assertion (Num. 23.19, `non est deus quasi homo ut mentiatur, nec ut filius hominis, ut mutetur', and Malach. 3.6, `ego enim dominus, et non mutor', are the best proof texts, scarcely compelling or authoritative), and the other texts A. adduces in such contexts (e.g., Ps. 101.28, `tu autem idem ipse es, et anni tui non deficient' : see on 1.6.10) do not themselves compel such a doctrine absent a predisposition in that direction. A. himself, moreover, is saying here that the doctrine was part of him when he was least Christian himself; certainly his dismay (on which the Manichees played: 3.7.12) at the thought of an anthropomorphic God reflects a congruent attitude. The challenge for any Christian doctrine of immutability, of course, is that there is plenty of evidence that God is mutable--if the Old Testament be read literally. And of course the scandal of the literal Old Testament was one of the factors that drove A. into the arms of the Manichees (see on 3.7.12).
A. does not hesitate to credit the Platonists with seeing the link between immutability and a correct notion of God as bodiless (civ. 8.6). It is central to A.: Gilson 22 calls it `the most profound and most constant element in his metaphysical thought'; B. J. Cooke, Modern Schoolman 24(1947), 42: `The more one studies St. Augustine and notes the place of immutability in relation to the other divine attributes, the more it seems that immutability is the basis on which the other attributes rest, the root from which they spring' --Cooke's study is important for the abundance of texts quoted and discussed and for placing immutability in the wider context of A.'s thought. In conf., see 1.4.4, 4.15.26 (de pulchro et apto), Bk. 7 almost passim (here, 7.9.14 [reading the platonicorum libri], both `ascents' [7.10.16, 7.17.23], and after [7.19.25]), 10.25.36, Bk. 12 again almost passim, and the trinitarian discussions of Bk. 13 (esp. 13.11.12, 13.16.19). A. is the first attested writer to use, and use often, the noun and adverb forms incommutabilitas/incommutabiliter.
The doctrine's antecedents are philosophical (but emphatically not Ciceronian and not Stoic: Colish, The Stoic Tradition 2.148); it has a Platonic warrant (rep. 2.381b-c is a suitable proof-text) but it would be wrong to call it `Platonic' here, for A. claims stoutly that the doctrine was part of him before ever he read the Platonists. It is present from Cassiciacum (sol. 2.20.35, imm. an. 5.7-6.10), and throughout the early works: mus. 6 passim, quant. an. 34.77, lib. arb. 2 passim, vera rel. 3.3 and passim; cf. s. 7.7 (perhaps as early as 397, on Exod. 3.14), `esse, nomen est incommutabilitatis. omnia enim quae mutantur desinunt esse quod erant et incipiunt esse quod non erant'; nat. b. 1.19.39 (from 399; see on 1.7.12 for the importance of this treatise for A.'s ontological views at the time of conf.). The same emphasis is not so evident in A.'s later works, but see trin. 15.23.43.
medullis: Source of sighs (3.6.10; cf. en. Ps. 85.8, `sincerissimis medullis castisque suspiriis ipsum dilige'), confessio (6.8.12) and other truly sincere speech (en. Ps. 39.20, 62.9, 90. s. 2.8), sacred song (9.3.6), and the voice of conscience (en. Ps. 45.3, `medulla conscientiae', 101. s. 1.10, `medulla cordis'); en. Ps. 65.20, `nihil enim interius medullis nostris: interiora ossa sunt carne, medullae interiores sunt ipsis ossibus.'
clamabat: Lam. 2.18, `clamavit cor eorum ad dominum super muros filiae Sion; deduc quasi torrentem lacrymas per diem et noctem, non des requiem tibi.'
phantasmata: See on 3.6.10.
circumvolantem turbam immunditiae: Aen. 3.233 (of the Harpies gathering a second time [here see `conglobata rursus' ] to harass the Trojan refugees), `turba sonans praedam pedibus circumvolat uncis, polluit ore dapes'.
in ictu oculi: Echoes 1 Cor. 15.52; see on 7.17.23, `in ictu trepidantis aspectus'.
corporeum . . . aliquid: The corporeality of the gods is defended by Cicero (e.g., nat. deor. 1.12.30). For the locus of divine activity, cf. Cic. nat. deor. 1.37.103, which distributes deities among the four elements (n.b. here `terreno . . . caelesti', and again 7.1.2: `caelesti' evokes `fire' because the sidera caeli stand for fire: see the corresponding list at 7.5.7, `terra et mare et aer et sidera'), and 2.23.60, on the gods of Epicurus (whose denial of their corporeality is confuted at 1.25.71ff) `in regione caeli conlocati'. O'Daly 66, `a concept of God that closely resembled the Stoic one which he knew from Varro, . . . not unaffected by Manichaeism, or at least . . . it grows out of Augustine's critical preoccupation with Manichaean views about God.' A similar difficulty transcending the corporeal affects Evodius' view of the soul reported and discussed at quant. an. 3.4, and cf. mor. 1.10.17. Against the Manichees: c. ep. fund. 43.49, `quae suorum phantasmatum fidem secuta et divinam substantiam per locorum spatia quamvis infinita velut informem molem disiecit atque diffudit'.
sive infusum . . . diffusum: Colish, Stoic Tradition 2.148, `In short, the physics and theology with which Augustine wrestled in Confessions 7 reflect a substantial modification of the more strictly Stoic view of the deity, and of being as such, to which he reports his attachment in Confessions 5, a modification resulting from the decidedly unStoic notion of God as immutable.'
prorsus nihil: On the paradoxes of `nihil', mag. 2.3.
tamquam spatiosum nihil: G-M: `a nothingness which yet possessed the quality of space.'
text of 7.1.2
Knowledge of God: A.'s model for knowing is that sensory data generate an image, which thought then regards. He is not concerned here with the problem of the origin of the image in God's case, but that difficulty underlies his judgment elsewhere (see on 3.6.10) that his view of God under the influence of Manicheism was only a phantasma, object of a seeming-knowledge that is not knowledge. He passes over the paradox that he already `knew God' in a variety of ways. He `knew' that God exists, he had various expectations (immutability, inviolability, incorruptibility) of God, and he would not accept any teaching that did not have the nomen Christi. But `knowledge-about' is not the direct cognition that he now sought.
Similar problems afflicted his opinions of the soul. One issue that preoccupied debaters was the mutability of the soul under the mutilation of the body. See both quant. an. 31.62 (an anecdote from Cassiciacum) and the recollection at nat. et or. an. 2.6.10 of a youthful conversation with Vincentius Victor (later divided from A. by schism) `de amputatis membris corporis absque animae sectione'. On his later view, he needed a clarification of vision (and clarification of vision is exactly what follows here: see on 7.8.12, `collyrio'): trin. 7.6.11-12, `non enim potest [animalis homo] cogitare nisi moles et spatia, vel minuta vel grandia, volitantibus in animo eius phantasmatis tamquam imaginibus corporum. (12) ex qua immunditia donec purgetur credat in patrem et filium et spiritum sanctum, unum deum, . . . omnium visibilium et invisibilium conditorem, et quidquid de illo pro humana facultate digne vereque dici potest' (`quidquid': e.g., or perhaps i.e., the remainder of the Nicene Creed). His view in 386/7 was only partially dematerialized; he was willing to affirm the immaterial nature of spiritual creature, but could not understand how to retain spatial metaphors in talking about such things. Material-sounding language made him think in material terms, and that problem was not yet solved: retr. 1.5.2, `quod vero dixi, animum propterea non posse ab aeterna ratione separari, quia non ei localiter iungitur [imm. an. 6.11, in a work generally agreed to be largely a collection of unassimilated Platonism, perhaps Porphyrianism], profecto non dixissem si iam tunc essem litteris sacris ita eruditus ut recolerem quod scriptum est: peccata vestra separant inter vos et deum. [Is. 59.2] unde intellegi datur etiam earum rerum posse dici separationem, quae non locis sed incorporaliter iunctae fuerant.' (Another implied link to Ambrose is dimly visible here: one of the sermons A. almost certainly heard was that which survives as the de Isaac vel anima; for this kind of implication, see on 6.16.26, `metus mortis'.)
incrassatus corde: Cf. Mt. 13.15 (Jesus explaining why he speaks in parables), `incrassatum est enim cor populi huius et auribus graviter audient et oculos suos cluserunt'; cf. Act. 28.27 (Paul explaining why his message has difficulties), `incrassatum est cor populi huius et auribus graviter audierunt et oculos suos compresserunt.' Both passages follow Isaiah 6.10 (God's charge to Isaiah), which in LXX is identical with the Greek of the Matthew and Acts passages. A. Maxsein, Augustinus 3(1958), 323-330 describes the heart for A. in the biblical sense, not as the seat of the affections, but of just and deep thoughts, the place where we perceive truth and adhere to it. Incrasso itself is Christian (from Tertullian on, 7x in Vg) = Gk. paxu/nw, `to make fat', hence in passive `become insensitive, stupid'.
conspicuus: `present to sight, transparent' (7.10.16, `lucem . . . vulgarem et conspicuam omni carni'). Cf. en. Ps. 147.16, `cum adhuc nemo est alteri conspicuus, nemo videt cor alterius.'
intentionem: `attention' in a high sense (reminiscent of Simone Weil, quoted on 11.18.23), nearly `consciousness'; see 12.15.18. A.'s critique of any rash materialism survives: even if `consciousness' is understood as the result of the interaction of material entities, that very notion of interaction itself goes beyond a common-sense materialism.
vita vitae meae: See on 1.4.4, `deus meus, vita mea'; sim. at 3.6.10, 10.6.10; cf. Jn. 14.6.
ut haberet te terra . . . nusquam: This passage offers a gloss on 1.3.3, `capiunt ergo te caelum et terra . . .'; see also below.
aeris huius: Thus expressly and carefully not the aer ingenitus of the Manichees: c. Fel. 1.18, `immo tres sunt: pater ingenitus, terra ingenita, et aer ingenitus'; cf. c. Faust. 20.2.
terrae corpus pervium: Cf. 7.1.1, `sive infusum mundo'. Cf. Aen. 6.724-727:
principio caelum ac terras camposque liquentes
lucentemque globum lunae Titaniaque astra
spiritus intus alit, totamque infusa per artus
mens agitat molem et magno se corpore miscet.
inspiratione: If A. was reading Cicero at this time (as 6.16.26 suggests, and cf. Cic. nat. deor. quoted above on 7.1.1), he could have found this support at nat. deor. 2.7.19: `haec ita fieri omnibus inter se concinentibus mundi partibus profecto non possent, nisi ea uno divino et continuato spiritu continerentur.'
administrantem administrantem C D G O Ver.: administrante S Knöll Skut.
est (autem) est O S Knöll Skut. Ver.: es CDG Maur. not without verisimilitude.
inluminaveras tenebras meas: Ps. 17.29, `deus meus, inluminabis tenebras meas'; en. Ps. 17.29, `nos enim peccatis nostris tenebrae sumus' (cf. 9.4.10, `fuimus aliquando tenebrae'). See 6.1.1, 11.2.2, 11.25.32, 13.8.9.
text of 7.2.3
deceptos deceptores: s. 8.2.3, `in sua vanitate decepti decipiunt'; en. Ps. 61.23, `diu mathematicus fuit; seductus seducens, deceptus decipiens'; see on 4.1.1, `seducebamur et seducebamus, falsi atque fallentes'. Three scriptural passages are closer to this in the Greek than in the Vulgate: 2 Tim. 3.13, `mali autem homines et seductores proficient in peius, errantes, et in errorem mittentes' (Gk.: planw=ntes kai\ planw/menoi); Judg. 11.35 (B text), taraxh=| e)ta/raca/s me, kai\ su\ h)=s e)n tw=| tara/xw| mou, and 2 Pet. 3.3, e)n e)mpaigmonh=| e)mpai=ktai (quoted at civ. 20.18 as `inlusione inludentes', where the Vg. has `deceptione inlusores'). Porphyry, v. Plot. 16.5-8, of Christians a)pokalu/yeis te profe/rontes *Zwroa/strou . . . kai\ a)/llwn toiou/twn pollou\s e)capa/twn kai\ au)toi\ h)pathme/noi; cf. Philostr., vita Apollonii 7.3, *Pla/twn . . . sfalei/s te kai\ sfh/las; see P. Wendland, Rhein. Mus. 49(1894), 309-310, with further analogous expressions from Philo, Dio Chrysostom, and Julian. A similar phrase occurs in the `Sentences of Sextus' (ed. H. Chadwick [Cambridge, 1959]), #393: yeu/desqai fula/ttou: e)/stin ga\r a)pata=n kai\ a)pata=sqai (in Rufinus' Latin: `mentiri vita: decipere est et decipi').
quoniam: reinforces our interpretation at 1.4.4, `vae tacentibus de te, quoniam loquaces muti sunt'; the Manichees are talkative, but their talkativeness is de facto silence, for what comes forth is not the Word, but mere words (cf. J. Ries, Lectio III-V, 11).
a Nebridio proponi: Nebridius' argument against the Manichees meant much to A. at every stage in his controversy with them. For texts that use the argument in one form or another, see (in chronological order: this list supplements that of Alfaric 249) ord. 2.17.46, mor. 2.12.25-26, `hinc enim illud exortum est, quod etiam cum studiose vos audiremus, nos magnis premebat angustiis nec ullum exitum reperiebamus, quaerentes, quid factura erat deo gens tenebrarum, si cum ea nollet cum tanta partis suae calamitate pugnarer. . . . (26) illud vero nondum dictum erat, quod nuper apud Carthaginem audivi. cum enim quidam quem maxime illo errore cupio liberari hac quaestione in easdem compingeretur angustias, ausus est dicere, scilicet regnum habuisse quosdam fines suos, qui possent invadi a gente contraria. nam ipsum deum nullo modo potuisse violari. sed dixit quod neque auctor ille vester ullo modo dicere cogeretur'; c. Fort. 1., 36-7, c. Adim. 28.1, c. Fel. 1.19, 2.8, nat. b. 43, c. Faust. 13.6, 21.14, 22.22, c. Sec. 20, `ut respondeatis: quid factura erat deo gens tenebrarum, si cum ea pugnare noluisset? quam si dixeritis aliquid fuisse nocituram, fatebimini corruptibilem et violabilem deum; si autem dixeritis quod ei nocere non possit, quaeretur a vobis, cur ergo pugnavit?' --the argument was already in circulation because there A. was responding to ep. Sec. 6, which claimed that there were things in Manichean doctrine that defy explanation: `sunt quaedam res quae exponi sic non possunt ut intellegantur; excedit enim divina ratio mortalium pectora. ut puta hoc ipsum, quomodo sint duae naturae aut quare pugnaverit qui nihil poterat pati'; see also Evodius, de fide c. man. 18 (PL 42.1144). Cf. esp. 1 Tim 1.17, quoted at c. Adim. 28.1, where A.'s text reads `regi autem saeculorum, invisibili, incorruptibili,4 soli deo honor et gloria in saecula saeculorum'.
Courcelle, Recherches 45, objects to what he sees as a chronological leap here, but the failure to mention the argument until now is characteristic of A.'s method in conf. He speaks of positive developments only at the moment in the narrative when they affected his inner dispositions decisively (so the recollection of Elpidius contra manichaeos at 5.11.21).
si autem . . .: A concise summary of Manichean doctrine, displayed here to show its weakness in the face of the objection raised by Nebridius--`itaque si te . . .' below represents the conclusion to which A. would force them.
substantia: Again, the use of the word (improperly applied to God) is a sign of the derangement of the argument; see on 5.10.20.
hanc esse animam: Translators (BA, Ryan, Vega, Carena) regularly get bogged down in this sentence and so punctuate to start a new sentence with this phrase, supplying a verb (corresponding to an understood dicerent); Pusey follows the text most faithfully, but the resulting English is not readily intelligible.
tuus sermo: not verbum; G-M suggest this hints that the Manichean doctrine is not on the mark, that their `Christ' was a phantasma. Sermo is, though infrequent, not impossible of divine speech, but not used by A. of the pre-existent second person of the trinity. Cf. 5.9.17, 11.2.4, 12.13.16, 13.20.26, 13.15.16, 13.15.18, and esp. 11.9.11, `audiat te intus sermocinantem qui potest', 12.10.10, `tu mihi sermocinare'.
sat erat ergo: Picks up the beginning of the paragraph to reiterate that the argument of Nebridius was enough.
omni modo evomendos a pressura pectoris: A potent metaphor; cf. Apoc. 3.16 (to the Laodiceans), `sed quia tepidus es, et nec frigidus, nec calidus, incipiam te evomere ex ore meo'. The a is apparently instrumental; pectus (OLD s.v. 2a) may be `the breast considered as a receptacle or channel for food', quoting Celsus 3.7.1.a, `vomitu pectus purgare'.
text of 7.3.4
incontaminabilem et inconvertibilem et nulla ex parte mutabilem: = `incorruptibile, inviolabile, et incommutabile' (7.1.1).
explicatam explicatam C D O Ver.: explicitam GS Maur. Knöll Skut.
A. nowhere else uses the form explicitus, -a, -um.
causam mali: The third of the Manichean challenges catalogued at 3.7.12; see on 7.1.1.
quod quaerebam: i.e., causa mali.
quaerendo: G-M take with the object; so the translators (Pusey, Ryan, `in their search for the cause of evil', BA, `car je les voyais, dans la recherche de l'origine du mal, remplis de malice', Carena, Vega). The difficulties are that (1) A. regularly uses the present participle in such cases (1.10.16, `libera nos iam invocantes te'), and (2) he regularly uses the dat./abl. gerund with a main verb not as a pseudo-participle, as in medieval Latin, but with a genuine sense of instrumentality: `by means of . . .'. In this aporia, it is decisive that the indirect question `unde malum' occurs 3x else in conf., always governed by some form of quaero: 3.7.12, 7.5.7, 7.7.11.
repletos malitia: Rom. 1.29, `repletos omni iniquitate, malitia, fornicatione, avaritia, nequitia', etc., for two more verses. This paragraph of Rom. will come to the fore in 7.9.14; the echo here makes it clear that he includes the Manichees among the `pagans' against whom the Pauline text is directed. Cf. Ecclesiastes 9.3, `unde et corda filiorum hominum implentur malitia et contemptu in vita sua, et post haec ad inferos deducentur.'
text of 7.3.5
intendebam: See on 7.1.2, `intentionem'.
audiebam: Apart from the self-contained encounter with Firminus (7.6.8-10), this is the only verb in Bk. 7 before the appearance of the platonicorum libri that describes something A. was doing at the time in which someone else could have been involved.~ The verb audio is used 6x of A.'s attendance on Ambrose's sermons in Bk. 6 alone. On what he heard, see Courcelle, Recherches 99-100, 106-120; Alfaric 370 cites Amb. in Luc. 8.36", while Courcelle, Recherches 100, prefers exam. as source: exam. 1.8.31, `quod enim possumus non facere si nolimus, huius electionem mali nobis potius debemus quam aliis ascribere. . . . quid alienam naturam accersis ad excusationem tuorum lapsuum?' (Cf. `naturam' to 5.10.18, `adhuc enim mihi videbatur non esse nos qui peccamus, sed nescio quam aliam in nobis peccare naturam'. (Courcelle adds Amb. Iacob [Feb. 386] 1.1.1 and 1.3.10 and Isaac 61, behind which he descries Plotinus 3.2.10. and 6.8.6.)
ut male faceremus: A. narrows the focus of his investigation to moral evil; he knew the distinction: c. Adim. 26., `dupliciter enim appellatur malum: unum quod homo facit, alterum quod patitur; quod facit peccatum est; quod patitur, poena.'
rectum iudicium tuum: Ps. 118.137, `iustus es domine et rectum iudicium tuum.'
conatus mergebar: The phrasing re-evokes the vocabulary of the ascent (e.g., 4.15.26, `conabar ad te'), and thus prepares the way for the `tentatives d'extase' of 7.10.16 and 7.17.23.
sciebam me habere voluntatem: duab. an. 11.15, `quis dubitet tunc esse peccatum, cum et velle iniustum est et liberum nolle? et ideo definitionem illam et veram et ad intellegendum esse facillimam et non modo nunc sed tunc quoque a me potuisse dici: peccatum est voluntas retinendi vel consequendi quod iustitia vetat et unde liberum est abstinere?' lib. arb. 3.17.49, `sed quae tandem esse poterit ante voluntatem causa voluntatis?' Cf. J. Rist, JThS 20(1969), 420-447, but the literature is vast.
causam causam C D G O2 Maur. Knöll Skut.: causa O1 S Ver. (understanding it as ablative `à cause de son péché' and adducing parallels for that ablative preceding the genitive it governs: c. acad. 3.7.15, s. dom. m. 1.14.39, 1.15.40, b. coniug. 10.11).
animadvertebam animadvertebam C D G O Maur. Ver.: advertebam S Knöll Skut.
quis fecit me?: The same question, and the same answer, is a stepping stone on the ascent of the mind to God at Ostia (9.10.25) and the answer alone plays a similar part at 10.6.9, with both passages approximating the mind's ascent to God in different ways.
insevit insevit O S edd.: inseruit C D G
plantarium: Cf. s. 47.15.28, `et excitabo eis plantarium pacis [Ez. 34.29 (VL)]. testamentum pacis, plantarium pacis. germinet quod plantat deus et extirpentur quod seminavit haereticus.' (See C. Carena, Riv. filol. istr. class. 92, 423-427, with further parallels for the metaphor of sowing.)
amaritudinis: See on 2.1.1, esp. for contrast with `dulcissimo' in the next phrase.
quod si et . . . esset: The query posed here, if it authentically dates from 385/6, betrays an awareness of catholic doctrine; the fullest treatment of the problem is at civ. 12.1-9, but even there he claims to have no `answer' to this question, only an explanation (that seems sophistic to most modern readers) of why the question is unanswerable (see civ. 12.7, quoted on 2.6.12).
ubi nemo tibi confitetur: Cf. Ps. 6.6, `in inferno autem quis confitebitur tibi?'; en. Ps. 6.6, `ut infernum dixerit, caecitatem animi, quae peccantem, id est, morientem excipit et involvit.'
text of 7.4.6
The purpose and significance of this paragraph are not obvious without consideration of its place in the book as a whole. Philosophically, the paragraph shows how close A. was to a solution of the twin problems of the nature of evil and of the nature of God, and prepares those problems for the resolution the platonicorum libri would offer. Biographically, it shows how far, at this time, A. was capable of going by means of his own efforts (cf. `nitebar'), in the order of `natural theology'.
The Plotinian echo suggested at BA 13.589n (citing Plot. 6.8) is at best incidental (anachronistically using Plotinian ideas to characterize his position at the last moment before Plotinian influence was felt), for to present express Plotinian doctrine here would undermine the structure of the book. Some justice must be done to the difficulty A. found in attempting to sort out all his ideas of the time into a linear pattern more than a decade after the fact. This book represents not so much a period as a moment (the arrival of the platonicorum libri) and its consequences.
The exposition from `nullo . . . modo' is unscriptural but dogmatic. What should not be missed is the hint of trinitarian structure: incorruptible substance , `voluntas' and `potentia' unlimited , and knowledge unbounded (`qui nosti omnia') .
confitebar: In the chronological sequence of events narrated, this is the first confessio A. records.
summum . . . bonum: See on 2.6.12, and cf. the discussion of the de pulchro et apto at 4.15.24.
praeponebam: Cf. 7.1.1, `praeponebam'. G-M see a parallel to Anselm's ontological proof.
esset . . . esses: The voluntas would only be greater than God himself if God himself were greater than God himself--because in God, self and will are identical.
text of 7.5.7
Here we enter a represented aporetic interior monologue of the time, following 6.11.18-19 and preceding 8.7.18, and resembling both. Here he depicts himself as anima naturaliter platonica. The `vision' that follows anticipates in form that of Ostia (9.10.25), suggesting that this passage is to be seen as another step on the path to intellectual ascent to God, hence the counterpart to 7.10.16 and 7.17.23, the more successful steps taken after the reading of the platonicorum libri.
et constituebam: Ps. 15.8, `providebam dominum in conspectu meo semper'.
universam creaturam: Taken up by 7.13.19, `universae creaturae tuae'.
angelos: This is the first direct reference to angels in conf. (earlier: references to fallen angels at 1.17.27, 7.3.5; to Manichean pseudo-angels at 3.10.18, 4.1.1; and to Monnica's veneration for Ambrose `sicut angelum dei' [6.1.1]). They are infrequent henceforth, with no consistent exegetical or doctrinal reference save that at 12.11.12, it is they who are by implication equated with the `caelum caeli' in the interpretation there discussed. A. is always diffident in speaking of angels (Madec, Aug.-Lex. 1.314-315: `les observations d'A. sur les anges se caractérisent en effet par leur circonspection'), and they often occur as possible intermediaries to be considered but rejected (e.g., 9.10.25, `neque per vocem angeli', 10.42.67, `ambiendum mihi fuit ad angelos?', and 13.38.53, `et hoc intellegere quis hominum dabit homini? quis angelus angelo? quis angelus homini?').
ordinavit ordinavit C D G cett. Maur.: ordinata, ut OS Knöll Skut. Ver.
Translators take `ut imaginatio mea' as if it were `ut in imaginatione mea' or `secundum imaginationem meam' (BA: `selon mon imagination', Vega: `según mi fantasía'); better, Ryan, `as my imagination dictated'. Pellegrino prints `ordinata, ut' but Carena on the facing page translates `che la mia immaginazione distribuiva pure in vari luoghi.' Given the importance of ordo in A.'s trinitarian thought (see on 1.7.12 and cf. `formavit atque ordinavit' below), it seems clear that A. implies here that he was taking on himself a divine function--giving order to created nature in a conglomeration of imagines that would be both phantasiae and phantasmata. The attentive reader who catches that signal will not be surprised that the inquiry based on this `vision' did not succeed.
distinctam: G-M: `adorned with', but there is little to corroborate that translation; cf. (suggesting a connection to the creative activity of the Word) 12.3.3, `informem materiam formares atque distingueres', 12.20.29, `quae nunc iam distincta atque formata', and 12.28.39, `alius iam formatas distinctasque naturas'. Elsewhere distinguo/distinctio are associated about as often with forma  and ordo : They are conjoined with both in both Gn. litt. imp. and Gn. c. man.; in Gn. litt. (e.g., 1.17.35, `a formata re ad hoc distincta est illa informitas') they seem more often associated with `formatio'. Whether they stand for one or the other or indifferently for both, their frequency of appearance in such contexts assures them a place in the economy of creation, associated with either the second or third person of the trinity, or both. Here, the `formation' of informis materia is clearly suggested.
ex omni parte . . .: Cf. 7.1.2, with notes there on links to 1.3.3; Plotinus 22.214.171.124-41, cited by G-M: kei=tai [o( ko/smos] ga\r e)n th=| yuxh=| a)nexou/sh| au)to\n kai\ ou)de\n a)/moiro/n e)stin au)ths, w(s a)\n e)n u(/dasi di/ktuon teggo/menon zw/|h, ou) duna/menon de\ au(tou= poiei=sqai e)n w(=| e)stin: a)lla\ to\ me\n di/ktuon e)kteinome/nhs n)/dh th=s qala/sshs sunekte/tatai, i(/son au)to\ du/natai.
spongiam: ep. 187.4.14, `sic est deus per cuncta diffusus, ut non sit qualitas mundi sed substantia creatrix mundi sine labore regens et sine onere continens mundum non tamen per spatia locorum quasi mole diffusa'. The negative example of the image of the sponge recurs at Gn. litt. 8.21.42, `cum anima non sit natura corporea nec locali spatio corpus inpleat, sicut aqua utrem siue spongiam, sed miris modis ipso incorporeo nutu commixta sit uiuificando corpori, quo et inperat corpori quadam intentione, non mole.'
implet ea: The period after ea is from Löfstedt, Symb. Osl. 56(1981), 106 (replacing a colon).
radix: 1 Tim. 6.10, `radix enim omnium malorum est cupiditas.'
an omnino non est: He approaches here the solution that he will finally accept only after reading the platonicorum libri (7.12.18-7.13.19).
quanto non est . . . timemus: `The evil is greater the more its object is non-existent, and we fear it nonetheless.'
timemus: See on `de timore mortis' below.
(idcirco) aut: The conjunction recurs 8x in all to mark the alternatives that define the extent of A.'s aporia.
deus fecit . . . bona: Gn. 1.31, `viditque deus cuncta quae fecerat et erant valde bona.'
fecit ea  . . . et formavit  atque ordinavit  eam: See on 1.7.12 (and note below of himself: `adhuc informis').
per infinita retro spatia temporum: The hypothesis here resembles the jibe of the Manichees about God's idleness before creation rebuffed at 11.10.12-11.13.16.
ageret: G-M have a note reading this and `institueret' to follow (with Pusey's translation) as iussive; preferable as punctuated here and in all recent editions (including G-M).
non enim esset omnipotens: Gn. c. man. 1.6.10, `non enim debemus esse similes istis qui omnipotentem deum non credunt aliquid de nihilo facere potuisse, cum considerant fabros et quoslibet opifices non posse aliquid fabricare nisi habuerint unde fabricarent.'
curis mordacissimis: See on 9.1.1.
de timore mortis: A reminder of 6.16.26, `metus mortis et futuri iudicii tui'.
fides: This fides denotes no more than the insistence on the nomen Christi that goes 3.4.8, but the assertion is entirely different from the Academic skepticism of 5.14.25. The palpable difference is that he has heard the sermons of Ambrose showing him that the OT can be read fruitfully and found therein a confidence lacking earlier. The qualifications here (`informis . . . fluitans') are given substance by the pseudo-creed summarizing his position at 7.7.11.
domini et salvatoris nostri: 2 Peter 2.20, `si enim refugientes coinquinationes mundi in cognitione domini nostri et salvatoris Iesu Christi, his rursus implicatis superantur.'
informis: The second stage of creation (12.3.3ff) is the addition, through the agency of the second person of the trinity, of forma to formless matter; thus the hint here is that what was lacking in A.'s faith was the formative influence of the (incarnate) Christ; at 7.18.24, that lack will be made explicit.
text of 7.6.8
Firminus is not known otherwise. Where and when did A. know him? See BA 13.595n posing the question, Vega ad loc. arguing for Carthage. Courcelle, Recherches 77n6, thinks that if Carthage were the venue, A. would have known Firminus' family (cf. his relation to Alypius' father [6.7.11]); Mandouze 100n5 thinks the placement in conf. shows that his rupture with the astrologers came only after his break with the Manichees. In favor of a continued association or one beginning at Milan is the record of a letter to him in Possidius' indiculum (MA 2.182), mentioned immediately after those to Nebridius (epp. 3-14), Hermogenianus (ep. 1.), and Zenobius (ep. 2.).
The scientific debunking of the Manichees (5.3.4-5.5.9) has a place here. Though the scientific and mantic aspects of stargazing might be distinct enough for the mature Augustine to see them clearly, many blurred that line. The earlier treatment of the question ended at 4.3.6 with an aporia that a serious interest in astronomy would have influenced.
These links suggest another aspect of the episode recounted here. The appeal of astrology to Augustine is that of curiositas. Its placement at the beginning of Bk. 4, the most various of the early books, is meant to mark how far A. had fallen in his Manicheism, into which he fell through youthful curiositas; the narrative of his astrological views is continued to show him still floundering in the grasp of the superstition. It is then abruptly dropped.
The subject recurs here abruptly, poorly integrated with the surrounding context. To read to the end of 7.5.7 and then to skip to the beginning of 7.7.11 leaves no sense of omission (but see on 7.7.11). The topic of surrounding chapters (the search for the nature of God through the resolution of the question of the origins of evil) is nowhere mentioned in this episode. Prima facie, A. admits that the episode is chronologically misplaced (`iam etiam . . . reieceram'). In sum, in Bk. 4, astrology measures the slide into curiositas; in Bk. 5, it is the benchmark against which another form of curiositas can be judged and found wanting; and here it marks liberation from curiositas.
But of what character is the episode? A friend is `procured' (`procurasti' 2x) for A. by God. In conversation with him, A. comes suddenly to see (7.6.9, `omnis illa reluctatio mea resoluta concidit') the error of his ways. In those terms it bears comparison both to the central episode of this book, the `procuring' (7.9.13, `procurasti') of the platonicorum libri, and to the two preliminary incidents of Bk. 8, the visits from Simplicianus and Ponticianus, both of whom recount to A. events elsewhere in a way that leads to a change of heart. Bk. 7 is mainly an account of A.'s intellectual conversion, as Bk. 8 recounts his moral conversion; in both cases, the lesser episodes and the conversions of others parallel and illustrate A.'s own experience. Though he is already detached from Manicheism, his pre-Manichean curiositas hounds him through these early chapters of Bk. 7, for he is still seeking the answer to two of the main questions that drove him into the Manichean camp. So, just as Bk. 3 had two kinds of temptation of the eyes (the spectacula and Manicheism--and another, astrology itself, appeared in Bk. 4), so Bk. 7 has two kinds of conversions from curiositas: first here, in a way that foreshadows the mechanism that will work again in 8, and second, the reading of the platonicorum libri.
The privacy of A.'s struggle (cf. 7.7.11, `nullus hominum') is borne out in the way Bk. 7 is constructed. Nebridius appears twice in the first part (7.2.3 and here: in both cases he is the one immune to concupiscentia oculorum, just as Alypius is immune to concupiscentia carnis), and Alypius appears once later in a single sentence recounting his Christological view (7.19.25). Otherwise no named individuals appear; the only other individual even alluded to is the man `typho turgidum' who provides the platonicorum libri in 7.9.13. Apart from the encounter with Firminus, there is no episodic narrative in this book. A. is alone with his thoughts.
mathematicorum: See on 4.3.4.
deliramenta: Disordered acts of intellect (1.17.27), associated with errors of curiositas: 3.6.10 and 5.3.6 (of Manicheism), here and 7.6.10 (of astrology).
confiteantur . . . miserationes tuae: Ps. 106.8: see on 1.15.24.
intimis visceribus animae meae: At 11.29.39, these viscera stand in apposition to cogitationes meae; at 5.10.20, with the comparable construction where miserationes is the confessing subject, there is a parallel prepositional phrase: `cui confitentur ex me miserationes tuae'.
erroris: Cf. 7.3.5, `infernum . . . erroris'; see on 1.20.31, where errores have the place in the triad as punishment for curiositas, so often in Bks. 3-6 (e.g., 4.7.12, `sed vanum phantasma et error meus erat deus meus').
vita  . . . sapientia  . . . inluminans  . . . lumine : Curiositas  is the sin against the Word.
procurasti: cf. esp. 7.9.13, `procurasti'; in the astrological narrative at 4.3.6, `et hoc . . . per illum [Vindicianum] procurasti mihi'. See also 3.3.5, 6.15.25, 9.10.23.
crebro dicenti: 8.12.29 (of the `tolle lege' chant), `dicentis et crebro repetentis'.
segnem: Wijdeveld (REAug 5 33) reports a Vienna MS with signem and conjectures insignem; BA describes as `conjecture habile, mais pas assez justifiée'. Firminus is quick to consult astrologers, but does not know their texts at all well--in other words, enthusiastic but uninstructed.
eas litteras: The technical documents of the astrologers; 7.6.10, `litterisque . . . easdem litteras'; cf. here, `librorum'.
curiosum: With `curiosissimum' below and 7.6.9, `curiositate', explicit indicators of the place of this episode in the moral architecture of conf.
liberaliter: Cf. 7.6.9, `liberalesque doctrinas'. F. had been educated in the disciplinae in a way that should have led his mind upwards to philosophical wisdom (see on 4.16.30); he resembles A. (just as Victorinus in 8.2.3-5 will appear in a conversion narrative as a Doppelgänger.).
constellationes: doctr. chr. 2.22.33, `constellationes enim quas vocant notatio est siderum, quomodo se habebant cum ille nasceretur de quo isti miseri a miserioribus consuluntur'; also at div. qu. 45.2 (fuller on technicalities), Gn. litt. 2.17.36, c. Faust. 2.5, s. 56.8.12, civ. 5.3-5.7, and c. ep. pel. 2.6.12. Infrequent elsewhere; at Calcidius (comm. 118 and 148) = Eng. `constellation'. One ancient gloss equates to Gk. katasterismo/s, but the meaning here is different.
conicere: Cf. Cic. div. 1.52.118, `male coniecta maleque interpretata signa falsa sunt', and Plin. nat. 10.49, `praesagivere victoriam, ita coniecta interpretatione'; see div. qu. Simp. 1.2.3, `coniectant', quoted below on 7.6.10, `de Esau et Iacob', and civ. 5.9, `in his autem mathematicorum coniecturis refutandis'.
flatabant flatabant O Maur. Ver. Skut. (citing ep. 55.11.21, `ad ipsum autem ignem amoris nutriendum et flatandum' [his app. wrongly reads ep. 50.]): flabant G: flagitabant C D: flagrabant S Knöll
conligerent: A technical term, repeated through 7.6.10; cf. Amb. exam. 4.4.14, `magnam vim dicunt esse nativitatis eamque minutis quibusdam et certis conligi oportere momentis ac, nisi verius conligatur, summam esse distantiam. . . . hoc quemadmodum possint conligere respondeant.'
praegnans: For the accusative, cf. `Lampridius', Commodus 1.3, `Faustina cum esset Commodum cum fratre praegnans' (Löfstedt, Symb. Osl. 56, 106).
dealbatiores: G-M: `comparatively brilliant.' They rightly prefer this to the old suggestion (going back to a note of Jean le Clercq reprinted at PL 47.208: cf. BA ad loc.) that `since a newly made, or mended, Roman road was white from the lime used for binding, dealbatiores = well-kept.'
text of 7.6.9
talis quippe narraverat: Authority in narrative reflects the moral stature of the speaker; cf. 10.3.3 for A.'s reflections on the authority of his own narrative.
vera pronuntiarem: Of astrological fortune-telling, as at 4.3.5 and 7.6.10.
at si at si C D G O Maur. Knöll Ver.: ac si S Skut.
conditionem servilem: For these words and all that follow to 8.5.12, manuscript C is defective and so D must be relied on.
unde . . . inde: The present punctuation, linking the two words as correlative, is that of A. Gabillon, Homo Spiritalis (Festschrift Verheijen: Würzburg, 1987), 441-2.
conlegi conlegi O S Ver.: conligi DG Maur. Knöll Skut.
non arte dici sed sorte: See on 4.3.5; cf. 7.6.8, `vim sortis', and 7.6.10.
text of 7.6.10
ruminando: 3.6.11, 6.3.3, 10.14.22, 11.2.3.
gemini: A standard Augustinian argument against astrology: div. qu. 45.2, doctr. chr. 2.21.32-2.23.35, Gn. litt. 2.17.36, civ. 5.1-8; but the argument was conventional: Persius 6.18-19, `geminos, horoscope, vario producis genio'.
litterisque: Cf. 7.6.8, `eas litteras' and `easdem litteras' here.
de Esau et de Iacob: Gn. 25-7; div. qu. Simp. 1.2.3 (concerning Rom. 9.10ff, on God's predestination of Jacob and Esau), `ad hoc commendandum ait, ex uno concubitu, ut nec astrologis daret locum vel eis potius quos genethliacos appellaverunt, qui de natalibus nascentium mores et eventa coniectant. . . . et facile animadvertunt, si volunt, responsa illa quae miseris venditant nullius artis expositione sed fortuita suspicione proferri.'
non ergo arte sed sorte: See on 7.6.9.
iustissime moderator universitatis .
occultis meritis: He comes closest here to connecting this episode with the circumambient discussion of the causes of evil; cf. 7.3.5, `rectum iudicium tuum ut pateremur'.
ex abysso iusti iudicii tui: Ps. 35.7, `iudicia tua abyssus multa'; cf. 4.4.8, 13.2.3, 13.12.13.
quid est hoc: Sir. 39.25-26, `a saeculo usque in saeculum respicit, et nihil est mirabile in conspectu eius. (26) non est dicere, quid est hoc, aut quid est istud? omnia enim in tempore suo quaerentur. A characteristically curious question, therefore; elsewhere in conf. at 1.6.10, 8.3.8, 8.8.19, 10.6.9, 10.14.21, 10.21.31, 13.24.35.
text of 7.7.11
If 7.6.8 - 7.6.10 were omitted, this paragraph would pick up smoothly from the end of 7.5.7, but with some repetition. In other words, the Firminus episode is not a later interpolation, but is deliberately encapsulated in the middle of a discussion that has its own continuity; see on 7.6.8.
adiutor meus: Ps. 29.11, `dominus factus est adiutor meus', Ps. 62.8, `quia factus es adiutor meus', Ps. 17.3, `deus meus adiutor meus', Ps. 58.18, `adiutor meus, tibi psallam'; Ps. 18.15, `domine adiutor meus, et redemptor meus'. Also at 7.10.16, 8.6.13, 9.1.1 (the latter two passages also marked by liberation from vincula).
fluctibus: Cf. Ps. 68.3, `infixus sum in limo profundi, et non est substantia; veni in altitudinem maris et tempestas demersit me'; Ps. 106.25, `exaltati sunt fluctus eius'.
credebam: Just on the verge of intellectual discovery, A. presents here a creed of that time, summarizing his state of mind: for a similar summary at a slightly more advanced stage, see 7.20.26 (and cf. on 8.1.2). Every item in this creed has already been discussed and where relevant its acceptance by A. documented. He already believes in God the Father, in God the Son, and in the scriptures as guaranteed by the catholic church; no mention of incarnation.
auctoritas: See on 6.11.19, `tam eminens culmen auctoritatis'.
viam: Jn. 14.6, `ego sum via et veritas et vita.' The noun via occurs 8x in Bk. 7 and is consistently to be taken as denoting incarnate Logos (following 5.3.5, `viam, verbum tuum'), as scriptural echoes and context make clear. This corroborates the Christological focus of the book. Apart from the present passage: 7.9.13, 7.18.24 (2x), 7.20.26 (2x), 7.21.27 (3x). The expression enters A.'s writing at c. acad. 1.5.13-14, `recta via vitae sapientia nominatur' (influenced by Cic., Tusc. 1.1.1, `ad rectam vivendi viam'), ord. 2.5.16, `duplex enim est via', sol. 1.13.23, `non ad eam una via pervenitur' (qualified at retr. 1.4.3: it is clear that Christ is a way for A. in 386, but perhaps less clear that he understands Christian doctrine to be as exclusive as he later took it to be: du Roy 168-171); in a similar sense at lib. arb. 2.9.26, 2.17.45, and vera rel. 1.1. First with unmistakeable reference to Jn. 14.6 probably mor. 1.13.22, but it would be hard to argue that A. was unaware of the equation already at Milan or Cassiciacum (especially bearing in mind the reluctance to mention the nomen Christi at Cassiciacum [see on 9.4.7]). Also early are div. qu. 38. (from Thagaste) and f. et symb. 4.6, quoting Prov. 8.22, Jn. 1.3 and 1.14 (see 7.9.13), and Phil. 2.6-7 (see 7.9.14)--as one would expect, this latter is his earliest fully ecclesiastical exposition. Among many later examples, cf. doctr. chr. 1.11.11, `cum ergo ipsa sit patria, viam se quoque nobis fecit ad patriam'; sim. at doctr. chr. 1.34.38 (linking Prov. 8.22 and Jn. 14.6) and trin. 1.12.24, quoting Prov. 8.22 and Jn. 14.6. The verse is an apt proof-text in an anti-Platonic context, e.g., s. 141.1.1 or civ. 10.32, where A. takes the phrase `universalis via animae liberandae' from Porphyry's de regressu animae and reiterates it over and over, emphasizing that the true `universal way' is Christian (citing Jn. 14.6 as he does); this is ironic insofar as the verse is one where Platonic teaching supported A.'s reconciliation with orthodoxy (even if it did not lead him as far as the incarnation).
The literal-minded consistency of A.'s exegesis by the time of his episcopal ordination and ever after makes it probable, therefore, that via is to be interpreted in conf. as a marker of the incarnate Logos wherever it occurs in a context that does not positively contradict the interpretation; numerous passages in this commentary refer to the present note with that intention. Studies include T. van Bavel, Augustiana 7(1957), 245-281; and L. C. Ferrari, Aug. Stud. 7(1976), 47-58. Van Bavel, art. cit. 267-76, emphasizes the view that via consists of the events of Christ's earthly life; but there is a touch of special pleading here, in that van Bavel is attempting to show that A. does not unduly neglect the `historical Jesus'.
aures tuae: Also at 3.11.19, 4.5.10, 5.8.15, 6.11.20, 9.12.33, 10.35.57, 11.2.3.
magnae voces: BA, perhaps anachronistically: `il ne s'agit pas d'une prière explicite, d'une prière au sens strict du mot, mais d'un tourment intérieur à la recherche du vrai qui, par sa sincérité même, attire la miséricorde divine.'
nullus hominum: The privacy, even loneliness, in which A. labored (see on 7.6.8) would not have been evident to his `friends' --the nameless crowd that constantly surrounds him, and from which he seems in these years so detached. (At Hippo as well, he lived in a crowd, perhaps on no greater terms of real intimacy.)
rugiebam a gemitu cordis mei: Ps. 37.9-11, `rugiebam a gemitu cordis mei, (10) et ante te est omne desiderium meum, et gemitus meus non est absconditus a te. (11) cor meum conturbatum est, et deseruit me fortitudo mea, et lumen oculorum meorum non est mecum'; en. Ps. 37.14, `ipsum enim desiderium tuum, oratio tua est; et si continuum desiderium, continua oratio.' Cf. 11.19.25, 12.18.27.
intus enim erat, ego autem foris: See on 10.27.38.
intendebam: The `looking' here resembles that of 9.10.25 (Ostia), with the difference that there the things of creation shrugged off A.'s gaze and passed him along to God. Here he is incapable of seeing into, or through, or beyond them. In terms of Rom. 1.20ff (see on 7.9.14), he does not yet see God in the visible things of creation, and to that end this attempt at `nature mysticism' is a failure.
locum ad requiescendum: See on 4.11.16, `locus quietis imperturbabilis'.
superior enim eram istis: As often, to suggest the deficiencies of his position at the time, A. sketches the true doctrine he was lacking. Cf. Gn. 1.28, `replete terram et subiicite eam, et dominamini piscibus maris'.
media regio salutis meae: For the soul poised between God and material creation, see du Roy 476-478. Cf. Gn. c. man. 2.15.22 (`illa medietate per quam deo subiecti erant et corpora subiecta habebant'), epp. 140.2.3, 18.2 (`qui Christo credit non diligit infimum, non superbit in medio atque ita summo inhaerere fit idoneus'), lib. arb. 2.19.50, Io. ev. tr. 20.11, trin. 12.11.16. The theme is easily linked (implicitly in several of these passages, explicitly in the trin. text) to the notion of the `weight' (pondus) of the love that drags the soul down or allows it to rise (see on 13.9.10).
regio: See on 2.10.18 and 7.10.16.
ad imaginem tuam: Gn. 1.26, `faciamus hominem ad imaginem nostram'; see on 13.22.32.
tibi . . . corpori: BA 13.681-682n cites Io. ev. tr. 1.4, trin. 10.5.7, which loosely parallel the development here.
in cervice crassa scuti mei: Iob 15.26 (VL), `et cucurrit contra eum contumeliose, in crassa cervice scuti sui'; adn. Iob 15.26, `et cucurrit contra eum contumeliose: adversaria faciendo quam praecepit. in crassa cervice scuti sui: praesumens de protectione sua.' en. Ps. 128.9, `et ibi cervicem nominavit; quia sic te erigis, et non elidis oculos ad terram, et tundis pectus, et dicis, domine, propitius esto mihi peccatori [Lk. 18.13]; sed iactas te de meritis tuis, et vis mecum, inquit deus, iudicio contendere, intrare mecum ad iudicium; cum debeas in reatu tuo satisfacere deo, et clamare ad illum.'
redeunti: sc. ad deum; see on 1.18.28. On the punctuation here, cf. A. Gabillon, Homo Spiritalis (Festschrift L. Verheijen: Würzburg, 1987), 443-444.
humilasti: Ps. 88.11, `tu humilasti sicut vulneratum superbum'; en. Ps. 88. s. 1.11, `vulneratum enim intellegas diabolum, non penetrata carne, quam non habet, sed percusso corde, ubi superbus est.'
tumore . . . oculos meos: See on 7.8.12, `collyrio'.
text of 7.8.12
This paragraph is a tissue of biblical echoes and reminiscences, a signal of the importance of the stage to be reached in the next paragraph.
tu vero . . . manes: Ps. 101.13, `tu vero domine in aeternum manes'; en. Ps. 101. s. 1.13, `mei dies sicut umbra declinaverunt, et tu in aeternum manes: temporalem salvet aeternus.'
non . . . nobis: Ps. 84.6, `non in aeternum irascaris nobis'; cf. Ps. 102.9, `non in finem irascetur, neque in aeternum indignabitur'.
terram et cinerem: Job 42.6 (VL), `ideo despexi memetipsum et distabui et aestimavi me terram et cinerem'; see on 1.6.7, and cf. 10.5.7.
et placuit: Ps. 18.15, `et erunt, ut complaceant eloquia oris mei et meditatio cordis mei in conspectu tuo semper, domine adiutor meus et redemptor meus'; en. Ps. 18. en. 2.16, `superba anima in conspectu hominum vult placere; humilis anima in occulto, ubi deus videt, vult placere.' Cf. Dan. 3.40, `sed in anima contrita et spiritu humilitatis suscipiamur; . . . sic fiat sacrificium nostrum in conspectu tuo hodie ut placeat tibi.'
deformia mea: Cf. 10.27.38, `deformis inruebam'; the opposite of forma .
et stimulis: Aen. 11.336-337, `gloria Turni obliqua invidia stimulisque agitabat amaris': regularly cited by the editors, though the Vergilian stimuli must be taken in malo, and those here in bono: further from the wording but closer to the thought is Eccles. 12.11, `verba sapientium sicut stimuli'.
et residebat . . .: The disordered use of sight (curiositas) leaves him with vision clouded, hankering for a clear vision of God: that is the project of Bk. 7, and it will both succeed and fail; cf. 7.18.24, `verbum enim tuum, aeterna veritas . . . sanans tumorem et nutriens amorem' (see on 3.5.9).
medicinae: i.e., Christ: cf. 9.13.35, `exaudi me per medicinam vulnerum nostrorum, quae pependit in ligno et sedens ad dexteram tuam te interpellat pro nobis'; en. Ps. 118. s. 9.2, `eius a Iudaeis inrisam crucem totamque humilitatis christianae medicinam, qua sola tumor ille sanatur quo inflati cecidimus et iacentes amplius intumuimus'.
collyrio: Apoc. 3.18, `et collyrio ungue oculos tuos ut videas'. Elsewhere in A., collyrium is proper to the incarnate Christ (whose dolores were pre-eminently salubres) and occurs surprisingly often: Io. ev. tr. 2.16, `quia vero verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis, ipsa nativitate collyrium fecit, unde tergerentur oculi cordis nostri, et possemus videre maiestatem eius per eius humilitatem. ideo factum est verbum caro, et habitavit in nobis. sanavit oculos nostros. . . . omnia enim collyria et medicamenta nihil sunt nisi de terra. de pulvere caecatus es, de pulvere sanaris; ergo caro te caecaverat, caro te sanat. . . . verbum caro factum est: medicus iste tibi fecit collyrium.' The expression is already in Cyprian, de opere et eleemosynis 14, `collyrio Christi', is implicit in Ambrose, exp. Ps. 118.3.22, and cf. Paul. Nol. carm. 19.34, `collyrio . . . medentis Christi' with Paulinus to A. (= A.'s ep. 94.1), `lucerna semper est pedibus meis verbum tuum et lumen semitis meis. ita quotienscumque litteras beatissimae sanctitatis tuae accipio, tenebras insipientiae meae discuti sentio et quasi collyrio declarationis infuso oculis mentis meae purius video ignorantiae nocte depulsa et caligine dubitationis abstersa.' Similar blindness and want of collyrium in A. at Io. ev. tr. 35.6 (`de corpore suo collyrium fecit luminibus nostris'), en. Ps. 39.21, 43.14, 65.5; ss. 126.5.7, 136.4 (`de sanguine suo collyrium fecit caecis'), 317.2.2, s. Lam. 25.1 (PLS 2.828); cf. Io. ev. tr. 18.11, quoted on 7.10.16. (The word collyrium itself is medical Greek, but occurs in CL [Horace and Juvenal] as well as in Apoc., and so may have come to A. through any of those channels; A. is well aware of the medical use: qu. Mt. 13.3--if authentic.) On purging the eye without collyrium, cf. Io. ev. tr. 1.19, ss. 88.5.5, 88.15.14, 117 (on Jn. 1: central to 7.9.13), which deals throughout with purity of vision (esp. s. 117.1.1, 117.3.5; s. 117 also contains the Philippians and the Matthew texts quoted through 7.9.14), and sol. 1.6.12 (`oculi sani mens est ab omni labe corporis pura, id est a cupiditatibus rerum mortalium iam remota atque purgata')--that passage (through sol. 1.6.13, and cf. sol. 1.13.23, `oculi tam sani et vegeti') expands on purity and strength of vision in a remarkable amalgam of neo-Platonic and Christian vocabulary, demanding fides, spes, caritas as the prerequisites for vision. (On the subject of vision, but without discussion of collyrium, see M. Miles, Jour. of Rel. 63 125-142; Mayer, Zeichen 2.258.)
de die in diem: See on 6.11.20.
text of 7.9.13
Nel mezzo del cammin. (1) With six books before and after, this one stands in the middle. (That A. could count like this is demonstrated by Gn. litt. 2.13.26, `septem quippe dierum medius quartus est.') By count of words or lines of text, this paragraph stands at the middle of the Bk. 7.5 (2) As long as A.'s goal was intellectual enlightenment, the reading of the platonicorum libri was the decisive intellectual event that reoriented his ways of thinking as nothing before or after would do. (3) The present passage has been the focus of every debate in the present century over the meaning of A.'s intellectual autobiography. What books of the Platonists did he read? What effect did they have upon him--in 386 and later? As heirs of generations of patient investigation, we can discuss those questions with greater precision than ever, but they continue to elude decisive, and universally acclaimed, answer.
The first words of this paragraph (as du Roy 61 observes) summarize the rest of Bk. 7 (cf. 7.20.26, on the difference between praesumptio and confessio). God resists the proud when he refuses illumination to those who grasp at it through pride of intellect; and he gives grace to the humble when he allows the least sinner access through the way that is the incarnate Christ. In attending as closely as we do to the platonicorum libri and even to the texts of scripture, we mistake Augustine's drift in a crucial way. What he is attempting to describe is an encounter between his haughty intellect and the humbling grace of God, an encounter in which the books on the table were instruments, not in themselves indispensable.
Central to A.'s presentation of the doctrines of the Platonists employs a rhetorical device that has gone comparatively unattended. He does not quote or paraphrase the Platonic books themselves (thereby making their identification difficult), but he quotes the ipsissima verba of Christian scripture as though they offered a fair summary of contents of an non-Christian philosophical work; incidentally the device allows close comparison of the doctrines of Platonists and Christians. He has already employed the device, in his last account of reading a philosophical classic, the Hortensius (at 3.4.8, quoting Col. 2.8-9; see below for further parallels). The syncretism he makes is one that seemed obvious at the time.6
Some attention must be given to the way this `reading' is presented. The ancient reader, no less than the modern, must have had expectations on first reading that are sharply confounded by the extended quotation from John. To be told that the books of the Platonists contained Christian scripture is a striking thing, and risks misreading on several levels. The first subtext we risk neglecting is the bishop's assertion that these books contained a great deal that was good. They were good enough to seem to be the culmination of a long search, and if they led to the further discovery that this culmination was not enough, that does not minimize the positive effect they made. He has, as always, high praise for the Platonists mixed with specific and unyielding criticism; we find it hard to take him seriously on both counts at once, but in the face of the consistency of his statements over many years (the difference separating his most Plotinian or Porphyrian remarks at Cassiciacum and his most cautious rectifications in retr. forty years later is slight), he must be given the benefit of the doubt. A good way to measure what change there was is to examine the thirteenth book of trin., which uses Jn. 1.1-14 at length to show the difference between philosophical and Christian doctrine of God. The incarnational verse 1.14 is again emphasized, but there are differences in approach. The trin. discussion is more subtle, both granting more credit to the philosophers and drawing the line between their achievement and the fullness of what Christianity has to offer more sharply.
The way A. presents his reading here allows another parallel to emerge (noted by Mayer, Zeichen 1.150). At 3.4.7, he read the Hortensius and turned away to scripture; here, another vivid encounter with the ancient philosophical tradition depicts him immediately making comparisons to specific texts of scripture. The difference is that in Bk. 3, the turn to scripture is frustrated and he rebounds into Manicheism; here, scripture manages to maintain its grip.
Courcelle, Recherches 172-173, holds that the comparison of the platonicorum libri with scripture was constructed by A. shortly after reading them, after the disillusionment of his `tentatives d'extase', and presented in conf. more or less as then written, `comme s'il lui avait sauté aux yeux dès le moment où il dévorait passionnément ces livres.' There is little evidence for any of this (notably the adverb `passionnément', which better suits his reading of the Hortensius), and the text does not allow us to date the exercise in defining the parallels.7 The text we have is not of 386 but of 397 or later, and the criticism of neo-Platonism implicit and explicit here was shaped over the intervening years.
The presentation of his encounter with these books is almost devoid of circumstance and narrative accoutrement (the garden scene in Bk. 8 stands in sharp contrast in this regard), but some account of the circumstances must be made. These books not were A.'s first introduction to the teachings of the Platonists (books would not have been indispensable for that purpose among the Milanese intellectuals, and he knew much simply from Cicero--to say nothing of many other sources8 ), but he clearly recalls a specific encounter with particular codices. Having heard much of the Platonists, he seeks out their books (foreshadowed in his recollection at 6.11.18 of a need for books: `ubi ipsos codices quaerimus?') to learn more, as full of his usual hopes as he was on turning to scripture after reading the Hortensius. To his surprise on plunging into them he finds not what he was looking for but something else entirely (and that kind of surprise is familiar in this text from his encounters with both Faustus and Ambrose).
It is a misreading to say that in Bk. 7 A. becomes a neo-Platonist. What he says is that in the midst of all his philosophizing--Platonic, neo-Platonic, and idiosyncratic--the specific texts put in front of him brought him new light and new frustration, and thus had the effect of driving him towards scriptural authority, where, in Bk. 8, the real resolution of his difficulties would be worked out. Bk. 7 teaches, in the end, that intellectual enlightenment, contrary to all A.'s youthful expectations, is not sufficient.
There is no suggestion, anywhere in A. or in any of the modern commentators, that he ever took his `Platonism' so far as to indulge in theurgy.9 The only possible liturgy for him now was Christianity; the ascent of the mind was non-sectarian in that important, even crucial, sense. But in one significant way, the Platonic pattern may have influenced his expectations of Christianity in a way that also goes unattended. The function of theurgy is to bring about the presence of the God, visibly. What does Christianity have that would have appeared to a half-Christian Plotinus/Porphyry-reader as the rough equivalent of theurgy? Eucharist: making the god be present. The Mass as Christian theurgy? Or as Christian counterpart to theurgy? The place in which we might have expected to find such an analogy developed is Ambrose's lost work de sacramento regenerationis sive de philosophia.
The most ambitious theological critique of A. in our time is O. du Roy's L'intelligence du foi . . . (Paris, 1966), and it requires a response in its own theological terms.10 The substance of his criticism is that A. puts trinity ahead of incarnation, then imprudently grants the Platonists a full doctrine of the trinity; the Platonists know all about the Fatherland, but lack only the Way to get there (du Roy 96-106). They know the pre-existent Logos, but not the incarnate Christ. But whether A. is depicted as coming to a full understanding of the trinity anywhere in the text of conf. before Bks. 11-13 is a serious question. The sequence is not trinity, then incarnation, but rather incarnation (Bk. 8), then trinity (Bks. 11-13). The Platonists acquire knowledge that is accurate insofar as it goes, but utterly insufficient. That their doctrines, described to show the alleged resemblance to Christian teachings to best advantage (Porphyry would not have been pleased with A.'s reports of Platonic teaching), facilitate understanding (or even did facilitate understanding for A.) of the doctrine of the trinity is irrelevant. The failure of the Platonists to grasp the truth of the incarnation would be, on that score, a divinely-managed stroke of bad luck. For the incarnation is the one piece of knowledge that has the greatest power to lead on to full and sufficient knowledge of God--that was, for A., the purpose of the incarnation.11 The Platonists stumble onto everything else, but in a way that is wholly inadequate to a real understanding; they are closer to the demons who `believe and shudder' (Jas. 2.19) than to the humblest of baptized Christians.
The platonicorum libri enjoy unparallelled prestige among scholars, to whom they have become a talisman for locating the secret springs of A.'s spiritual life. With the hope of restoring perspective, even at the risk of tarnishing their prestige, we may consider a few of the things that A. did not do with them. He does not identify the books he read; he does not quote them at Cassiciacum (where he quotes scriptural texts and Vergil explicitly); he does not make them the objects of explicit discussion with quotation;12 he does not write commentary upon them (the way he comments upon scripture); they never become part of his explicit, spontaneously quoted literary life;13 there is no sign of continuous contact with them, for the extended discussion in civ. 8-10 reflects a return to old studies rather than a constant occupation; there is no sign in his correspondence of his handling them, recommending them, or using them as authoritative; and he does not remain in correspondence with any of his Platonic acquaintances from Milan days--the break with those times on his return to Africa is nearly total (Simplicianus is the sole, and very ecclesiastical, exception). The dialogues he records under the influence of Platonic ideas involve without exception A. and others of his African entourage, never any of the so-called neo-Platonic circle of Milan, except as dedicatees.14 The intellectual movement of his recorded writings, beginning at Cassiciacum and lasting until his death, is consistently and continuously away from neo-Platonism.
But the debate with Platonism is assuredly a subtext in almost everything A. wrote; here it will suffice to quote a few passages of particular pertinence to this description of his first serious encounter. The first signs of reserve are already there at Cassiciacum, as the second text indicates:
c. acad. 3.18.41, `os illud Platonis, quod in philosophia purgatissimum est et lucidissimum, dimotis nubibus erroris emicuit maxime in Plotino, qui platonicus philosophus ita eius similis iudicatus est, ut simul eos vixisse, tantum autem interest temporis, ut in hoc ille revixisse putandus sit.'
sol. 1.4.9, `[Ratio] si ea quae de deo dixerunt Plato et Plotinus vera sunt, satisne tibi est ita deum scire, ut illi sciebant? [A.] non continuo, si ea quae dixerunt vera sunt, etiam scisse illos ea necesse est. nam multi copiose dicunt quae nesciunt, ut ego ipse omnia quae oravi, me dixi scire cupere, quod non cuperem si iam scirem.'
vera rel. 4.7, `ita si hanc vitam illi viri [Plato et platonici] nobiscum rursus agere potuissent, viderent profecto cuius auctoritate facilius consuleretur hominibus et paucis mutatis verbis atque sententiis christiani fierent, sicut plerique recentiorum nostrorumque temporum platonici fecerunt.' 15
The one piece of solid information about Plotinus himself that A. relates elsewhere is ep. 118.5.33, `tunc Plotini schola Romae floruit habuitque condiscipulos multos acutissimos et sollertissimos viros. sed aliqui eorum magicarum artium curiositate depravati sunt, aliqui dominum Iesum Christum ipsius veritatis atque sapientiae incommutabilis, quam conabantur attingere, cognoscentes gestare personam in eius militiam transierunt.' 16
The most famous testimony to the rapprochement of Platonism and Christianity, seen from a Platonic perspective, but reported by A. to reinforce the Christian view, is at civ. 10.29, `quod initium sancti evangelii, cui nomen est secundum Iohannem, quidam platonicus, sicut a sancto sene Simpliciano, qui postea Mediolanensi ecclesiae praesedit episcopus, solebamus audire, aureis litteris conscribendum et per omnes ecclesias in locis eminentissimis proponendum esse dicebat. sed ideo viluit superbis deus ille magister, quia verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis.' 17 The mention of Simplicianus (see on 8.1.1) dates this episode to the period under review here. A. always credits the Platonists with a knowledge of the triadic nature of God (e.g., civ. 8.5, 8.10, and [more trinitarian than merely triadic] 10.23).
As many writers have noted, the question of `sources' can be dangerously misleading, for it is not only Latin translations of Greek Platonic texts that need be in question (though obviously there were some of those), but also the sermons of Ambrose (some mediating ideas from Greek Platonic texts), and well-informed oral tradition. Much debate since Courcelle has been concerned with identifying the textual sources as closely as possible, and with dating A.'s contacts with them. Better to follow the example of Mandouze 476-478, who summarizes concisely and lucidly the most ambitious attempts to provide a schedule for A.'s readings (and hearings) of Platonic ideas, while setting that exercise aside as essentially secondary. Here is the pattern that Mandouze summarizes; see his discussion for documentation for each suggestion:
|Beginning of 386 ||Ambrose, de Iacob et vita beata|
|Holy Week, 386 ||Ambrose, exameron18 |
|May 386 ||Ambrose, de Isaac vel anima; de bono mortis|
|June/July 386 ||Porphyry, Philosophy from Oracles19 |
|June/July 386 ||platonicorum libri|
|July/August 386 ||Paul|
The unanswerable question remains how much of A.'s neo-Platonism he imbibed from Ambrose, and how much from his reading, and how far those two bodies of doctrine coincided. The optimism of Courcelle (that the two coincided closely) must be measured by consideration of the objections that can be brought against it, as by Theiler at Gnomon 25(1953), 114-119. Even if Theiler's parti pris on behalf of Porphyry is excessive, there remain problems.
quam . . . gratiam: Prov. 3.3-4, Jas. 4.6, 1 Pet. 5.5: see on 1.1.1.
demonstrata: used of Christ at 10.43.68, `verax autem mediator, quem secreta tua misericordia demonstrasti hominibus et misisti, ut eius exemplo etiam ipsam discerent humilitatem, mediator ille dei et hominum, homo Christus Iesus.'
via: See on 7.7.11. From this paragraph on, humilis/humilitas occur 11x in Bk. 7 alone, signs of that quality of the incarnation that human beings are meant to imitate.
quod verbum . . . homines: The central doctrine missing in the platonicorum libri was the incarnation (7.9.14), but here is a clear statement from c. 397 that God sent these books to A. in order to get him to believe in the incarnate Christ, in order to teach him something they did not contain. The one thing he says he learned is the one thing that was not there.
quendam hominem: The identity of this man has exercised much curiosity. A. is careful (see on 4.4.7) to name in conf. only those who contributed to his religious pilgrimage in positive ways--a category generous enough to include the heretic Faustus. To refrain from naming this man is then a judgment against him, corroborated by the words that describe him. Was he Mallius Theodorus? That was Courcelle's identification (Recherches 153-156, following LLW 134-140), and it remains the most compelling. It is not, however, universally accepted. O'Meara, The Young Augustine (London, 1954), 152, thinks the man must be Porphyry; Solignac makes a case in favor of Celsinus (see BA 13.103); Mayer Zeichen 1.128n146 doubts it can be Theodorus: `Wahrscheinlich handelt es sich um einen nicht-christlichen Neuplatoniker, der aus seinem philosophischen Dünkel--was in den Augen des Bischofs der Confessiones nur Stolz ist --, sich dem Joch des Glaubens nicht beugte.' (The other case of someone in conf. in whom A. later had reason to be disappointed is Romanianus: see on 6.14.24).
For Theodorus' career in outline see PLRE 1, s.v. Theodorus 27. His known career ran from c. 376 to 399; he may well have been contemporary with A. or only slightly older. After several minor posts in the late 370s, he held one of the major financial ministries (either comes sacrarum largitionum or comes rerum privatarum) in 380. In 382 he seems to have reached the acme of a civil career, serving as praetorian prefect for Gaul. About the time of the death of Gratian in 383, he retired from public life, to reappear only as praetorian prefect under Stilicho for the central province of Illyricum, Italy, and Africa in 397-9, and he was consul in 399 along with the eastern vizier Eutropius. He was at ease among the correspondents of Symmachus (he received Symm. ep. 5.4-16, none of much interest). He was the subject in 399 of a panegyric by Claudian, from whom we learn (Claudian, M. Theod. cos. 124) that he lived at Milan, and hear in dignified hexameters of his learned works:
omnia Cecropiae relegis secreta senectae (67-69)
discutiens, quid quisque novum mandaverit aevo
quantaque diversae producant agmina sectae.
Of the effects of his work, Claudian says (94) `in Latium spretis Academia migrat Athenis,' and that hint of Platonic loyalties is confirmed at 149-50, `scilicet illa tui patriam praecepta Platonis erexere magis.' (Claudian's religious inclinations and the nature of his `paganism' are notoriously hard to describe [A. Cameron, Claudian (Oxford, 1970), 189-227], so while there is emphatically nothing here to suggest any Christian affiliation at all, that is not conclusive evidence.) Theodorus' treatise on meter is printed at Keil 6.585; he wrote an epitaph for a sister who was a `nun' (Courcelle, REL 46, 66-73).
A. dedicated to Theodorus his own beata v. (beata v. 1.1), but regretted the decision later: retr. 1.2, `displicet autem illic quod Mallio Theodoro, ad quem librum ipsum scripsi, quamvis docto et christiano viro, plus tribui quam deberem.' A. speaks (beata v. 1.4) of Ambrose and Theodorus at that epoch in the same breath, but also asserts that Theodorus was a student of Plotinus: beata v. 1.4, `lectis autem Plotini paucissimis libris, cuius te esse studiosissimum accepi'. (Many have said that the wording makes the report sound indirect and suggests that T. could not have been the one to put the books into A.'s hands himself. But at 4.3.6 and 7.6.8, after all, God is said to have `procured' variously on A.'s behalf, in ways that any observer would have to say are indirect, and it is possible that indirect example and influence could have been at work here.) Courcelle, Recherches 153-156, insists that Ambrose sent A. to Theodorus, and the text of beata v. is his most important support for that view; but there is no direct evidence for Ambrose acting in this way (Courcelle is influenced by his reading of 6.3.3, which he takes literally as a sign that Ambrose had no time for A., and so passed him on to a trusted friend) and Ambrose, the author at that time already of the de philosophia sive de sacramento regenerationis, was unlikely to be an unmitigated enthusiast of pure Platonism. There is already a hint of warning to Theodorus, against the temptations of worldly honors, at beata v. 1.3, `superbum studium inanissimae gloriae'. (All three Cassiciacum dialogues are addressed to their recipients [Zenobius for ord. and Romanianus for c. acad.] in terms that are both flattering and didactic/hortatory.) The loudest praise for Theodorus, moreover, comes in a context (ord. 1.11.31) that is a best ambiguous, for he appears at the end of a paragraph of conventional disparagement of wealthy dilettantes, where the unavoidable suspicion arises that he is being praised as the best of a second-rate lot.
Uncertainty remains. But note that we do not have direct evidence that Theodorus was ever a baptized Christian (retr. 1.2 calls him `christiano' but omits the tell-tale fidelis--see on 2.3.6). In the mid-380s it may well have looked as though baptism was in his future; he had all the right friends; A.'s attitude of 397 would be perfectly intelligible if he had in the end decided not to be baptized. In the years between, A. had come to characterize unconvertable Platonists harshly: vera rel. 4.7 (the immediate continuation of the passage quoted above), `aut si hoc non faterentur nec facerent in superbia et invidia remanentes'. There is no named individual known to us more likely than T. to be the object of A.'s remarks here, indeed no named individual is even close to this probability.
typho turgidum: Both these words were used separately of A. himself reading the Hortensius (3.3.6, `tumebam typho', 3.5.9, `turgidus fastu mihi grandis videbar' --cf. Cic. Tusc. 3.9.19., `sic igitur inflatus et tumens animus in vitio est. sapientis autem animus semper vacat vitio, numquam turgescit, numquam tumet'), together of Stoic philosophers at s. 348.2.3, `typho turgidi'; for typhus, see 3.3.6, 4.14.23, 4.16.28, 6.6.10, 9.4.8, 10.36.59, 12.25.34. Would A. in 386 have spoken of his youthful self this way? Probably not. Their collocation here represents a similarly retrospective criticism of the unnamed man. Typhus is a non-biblical Grecism already Christianized (for its background, see Courcelle, Opuscula Selecta [Paris, 1984], 329-372, esp. 353-64), not appearing in A. until ep. 22.6 of 392, hence after his ordination; it becomes a favorite expression, esp. in the phrase typhus superbiae and the like (such as en. Ps. 55.6, `hominem superbum typho arrogantissimo'; cf. en. Ps. 102.22, civ. 11.33). Apposite here is trin. 4.10.13, quoted on 8.2.3, `sacrorumque sacrilegorum particeps'; cf. civ. 10.28, `tumore inflatus vanae scientiae'. In a much later text, typhus is correlated to the attitude attacked by Rom. 1.21ff (see on 7.9.14, esp. `cothurno'): ep. 187.6.21, `hoc sacramentum longe est a cordibus sapientium superborum et ideo non christianorum ac per hoc nec vere sapientium, illorum etiam dico sapientium qui cognoverunt deum, quia cognoscentes deum, sicut dicit apostolus, non sicut deum glorificaverunt aut gratias egerunt. nosti autem in quo sacrificio dicatur, gratias agamus domino deo nostro. a cuius sacrificii humilitate longe abest typhus et cothurnus illorum'; cf. also ep. 102.32. s. Frang. 5.5, Gn. litt. 11.31.41, c. Iul. 4.16.83, c. ep. Parm. 3.5.27.
quosdam platonicorum libros: For A.'s exact sense of platonici, see civ. 8.12, `recentiores tamen philosophi nobilissimi quibus Plato sectandus placuit noluerint se dici peripateticos aut academicos, sed platonicos. ex quibus sunt valde nobilitati graeci Plotinus, Iamblichus, Porphyrius; in utraque autem lingua, id est et graeca et latina, Apuleius Afer extitit platonicus nobilis. sed hi omnes et ceteri eius modi et ipse Plato diis plurimis esse sacra facienda putaverunt.' (Note that for A. at least all Platonists perform non-Christian religious cult; cf. civ. 8.1.) The books are not more closely identified in conf. (cf. 8.2.3, `me legisse quosdam libros platonicorum' : but there he does say, problematically, that they were translated by Victorinus: see notes there), but at beata v. 1.4, `Plotini . . . libris' offers unambiguous testimony.20 This has not prevented lively debate over the amount of Porphyry A. read at the time, but A.'s own choice was to leave the texts unidentified: that decision is in itself a form of commentary on them.
The central texts to that debate are Theiler's review of Courcelle, Recherches, at Gnomon 25(1953), 113-122 and Courcelle Les Confessions 33-42 (and cf. O'Meara's opinion on the identity of the homo cited above). The issue is complicated by the role Porphyry played in the transmission of Plotinus and by our ignorance of the outward form of the Latin books A. actually read. See du Roy 70 for a catalogue of treatises by Plotinus variously thought to have been read by A., either at this period or slightly later, and cf. P. Hadot, Marius Victorinus (Paris, 1971), 201-10. The number is probably not large (beata v. 1.4, `paucissimis libris'; c. acad. 2.2.5, `guttas paucissimas' --but those phrases have a rhetorical purpose [du Roy 69n5]); on du Roy's view, A. read 15 of the 54 Plotinian treatises; TeSelle's position resembles du Roy and he reaches a count of 19; on paucissimus see on 5.6.11), and nothing says that A. read all of each with the same attention and comprehension. (A useful comparandum is the case of Macrobius, who seems to have had little of Plotinus available to him, perhaps only half a dozen treatises and Porphyry's vita; see J. Flamant, Macrobe et le néo-Platonisme latin [Leiden, 1977], 571-573.) The most assertive `Plotinizer' among recent scholars has been R. J. O'Connell: see esp. REAug 9(1963), 1-39. O'Connell has consistently overplayed his discoveries and the role of Plotinus in A. generally; the authorized (and deafening) reaction, emanating from Courcelle's seminar, was G. Madec, REAug 16 (1970), 79-137, to which O'Connell responded at REAug 19(1973), 87-100. O'Connell insists on the importance of tracing `parallel patterns' of a kind that resist philological verification; while his method gives undeniably freer rein to the search for affiliations and influences, the (mostly justified) ferocity of Madec's response is a measure of the limitations of that method.
The explicit mention of names is not insignificant in A. (see on 4.4.7); what is the case here? Plotinus is mentioned by name in A. in three works from Cassiciacum: c. acad. 3.18.41, sol. 1.4.9, beata v. 1.4, again in ep. 118.5.33 (all quoted above), and again 11x in Bks. 8-10 of civ. - and not otherwise. Porphyry is the object of much discussion in civ., where he is named 59x; but elsewhere he is mentioned by name only 13x, in 6 different opera/opuscula. The earliest show A. aware of Porphyry's attacks on Christianity at cons. ev. 1.15.23 (399/400-??)21 and at ep. 82.2.22 (c. 405); 3x at ep. 102.2.8ff (406/12), responding to Porphyrian challenges (cited years later at praed. sanct. 9.17); and s. 241.6.6-7.7 (404 earliest, poss. after 412), defending the doctrine of the resurrection against Porphyry's `corpus est omne fugiendum'; hence, Porphyry was never named until his anti-Christian polemic had given him a separate and distinct identity for A. By contrast, Plato is mentioned approx. 206x by A. (outside civ. 68x), and platonicus/platonici of persons occur approx. 109x (outside civ. 28x). These figures do not tell the whole story, but provide a framework within which to speculate, and if kept in mind offer perspective; it is often perspective that is lost in the debates on this subject.
Some Porphyry A. undoubtedly read at Milan, but whether before or after Cassiciacum is questionable. The likeliest form in which he encountered Porphyry at that time was in his sententiae [a)formai/], possibly attached as an explanatory preface to the translation of Plotinus A. also encountered (even there we are in a dark wood, for it is likely that we have only part of the sententiae [see J. Bidez, Vie de Porphyre (Gent, 1913), 106n1]). At any rate, Plotinus and Porphyry came to A. now as a package, as platonici, and as a package that offered intellectual treasures that were not felt to be incompatible with Christianity. See on the place of the conf. in A.'s life in the prolegomena to this commentary for further treatment of the relevance of his revaluation of Porphyry to the making of conf.
The case for Porphyrian influence was given its classic expression in Theiler's P.u.A., and revived more cautiously by by J. J. O'Meara, Porphyry's Philosophy from Oracles in Augustine (Paris, 1959), arguing that the Philosophy from Oracles and the work quoted by A. as de regressu animae were identical (see also H. Lewy, Chaldæan Oracles and Theurgy [Cairo, 1955], 449), and that A. knew that work from Cassiciacum at the latest. O'Meara was rebutted fiercely (but with limited success) by P. Hadot, REAug 6(1960), 204-244. O'Meara is right to identify the two titles, but that does not require us to accept his insistence that the one work was known already in Italy: how could A. ever have read that work and failed to see how anti-Christian Porphyry was? The state of our knowledge of Porphyry hampers further progress. (There are almost infinite ambages to these debates. G. Madec, Saint Ambroise, offers two important precisions: at 69-70, that Ambrose's Plotinian sermons may get much of their Plotinianism in bulk from Greek Cappadocian Christian models, hence part of the explanation why those sermons never discuss philosophia as such and never give any direct sign of their sources or any consciousness of the syncretism that is taking place; at 167, he reminds us further of the `probabilité d'une influence de Porphyre sur Ambroise a été établie par P. Courcelle [Courcelle, Recherches 133-136]: Ambroise aurait utilisé le De regressu animae dans un sermon dont Claudien Mamert a cité un fragment, et dans un sermon sur Isaïe cité par Augustin.') The most lucid and balanced discussion of the Porphyrian question in English is that of TeSelle 49-54; Courcelle himself strongly increased his estimate of Porphyry's influence between Recherches and Les Confessions: see Les Confessions 33-42 (and see on 7.19.25); Madec, Lectio VI-IX, 61-67, has followed the movement to see more Porphyry, and see O'Meara's lucid `Parting from Porphyry', Atti-1986 2.357-369. A fresh comprehensive survey of the state of play would be valuable.
The quality of the translations that A. used is also pertinent. Plotinus is notoriously difficult, and ancient translations were notoriously literal. Can we make any useful comparisons? Take Plot. 1.4.7, the apparent source of A.'s `last words' quoted at Possidius v. Aug. 28.11, `et se inter haec mala cuiusdam sapientis sententia consolabatur dicentis: non erit magnus magnum putans quod cadunt ligna et lapides, et moriuntur mortales.' Plotinus 126.96.36.199-24: ou)k a)\n e)/ti spoudai=os ei)/h cu/la kai\ li/qous kai\ nh\ Di/a qana/tous qnhtw=n me/ga h(gou/menos. The dependence is clear, but the verbal infidelity is also clear.22 The same test with similar results can be performed on the `quotation' from Plotinus 1.6.8 (conflated with 1.2.3?) at civ. 9.17 (quoted below on 7.10.16, `in regione dissimilitudinis').
non quidem his verbis: In Bks. 7, 8, and 9, each crucial moment is reported with discourse bracketed by similar phrases: cf. A.'s lament under the fig tree (8.12.28, `non quidem his verbis') and the vision at Ostia (9.10.26, `etsi non isto modo et his verbis').
suaderi rationibus: 8.2.3 (of Simplicianus' delight at hearing A. had been reading platonicorum libri): `in istis [libris] autem omnibus modis insinuari deum et eius verbum'.
in principio: See excursus following notes on this paragraph for the text of John on which A. relies. Quotations from Jn. 1 also occur at 4.15.25, as part of the critique of that `tentative d'extase'. Solignac, at BA 13.683-686, presents an interesting tabulation of parallels between the scriptural passages quoted here and in the next paragraph and passages of Plotinus.
verbum: = lo/gos. This equation is not recorded in A.'s surviving works until 388/90: Gn. c. man. 1.1.3 (noted briefly at du Roy 270-271; fuller study at D. W. Johnson, RA 8 25-53, arguing that the equation is thus more likely the result of Christian than of Platonic influence). There is a difficulty: A. himself is the source of the anecdote at civ. 10.29, quoted above, about the Platonist who said that the first words of John's gospel should be written in letters of gold and put up in prominent places for all to see, and he says that it was a story Simplicianus used to tell: `sicut a sancto sene Simpliciano . . . solebamus audire'. So he had surely heard the story, and must have known the underlying doctrine and texts, at Milan. Reserve giving way to abundance marks the appearance of the word in this sense in conf.; it becomes suddenly frequent in this book from here, and continues in later books far more frequent than in earlier.
vita est: Io. ev. tr. 1.17, `faber facit arcam. primo in arte habet arcam: . . . arca in opere non est vita, arca in arte vita est; quia vivit anima artificis, ubi sunt ista omnia antequam proferantur.'
hominis anima: See civ. 10.2, `saepe multumque Plotinus asserit sensum Platonis explanans, ne illam quidem quam credunt esse universitatis animam aliunde beatam esse quam nostram, idque esse lumen quod ipsa non est, sed a quo creata est et quo intellegibiliter inluminante intellegibiliter lucet. . . . nec aliunde illis supernis praeberi vitam beatam et lumen intellegentiae veritatis quam unde praebetur et nobis, consonans evangelio, ubi legitur, fuit homo missus a deo, cui nomen erat Iohannes; . . . lumen verum, quod inluminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum. in qua differentia satis ostenditur animam rationalem vel intellectualem, qualis erat in Iohanne, sibi lumen esse non posse, sed alterius veri luminis participatione lucere.' (For the same juxtaposition of a Christian text with a Plotinian doctrine, see civ. 10.14.) Cf. M. Victorinus, adv. Arium 1.56, `anima enim in deserto, hoc est in mundo, exclamat quoniam scit dominum deum et vult mundari ut domino fruatur deo; et ista dicit testimonium de deo et praemissa est in mundum ad testimonium testimonii.' This phrase is the only significant deviation from the gospel text; it implies that the allegorism is to A. sure and obvious.
deus (est) deus D G O Ver. Pell.: deus ipse S Knöll Skut.: dei deus BPZ Maur.
non ibi legi: The same phrasing in 7.9.14 continues the contrast. It was not only the incarnation of the second person that A. did not find in the Platonists, but it was twenty years after conf. before he was drawn to note the lack of mention of the third person, and then only when reminded by another writer: qu. hept. 2.25, `summi philosophi gentium, quantum in eorum litteris indagatur, sine spiritu sancto philosophati sunt, quamvis de patre et filio non tacuerint, quod etiam Didymus in libro suo [de spiritu sancto 2 (PL 33.109)] meminit, quem scripsit de spiritu sancto.'
text of 7.9.
Excursus: Text of Jn. 1.1-14 from Io. ev. tr.
Words paraphrased here, cited not ad verbum, or differently inflected are italicized. The punctuation follows A.'s phrasing: n.b. 3-4, `quod factum est in illo vita est' and 9, `omnem hominem venientem in mundum' (1) in principio erat verbum, et verbum erat apud deum, et deus erat verbum. (2) hoc erat in principio apud deum. (3) omnia per ipsum facta sunt, et sine ipso factum est nihil. quod factum est (4) in illo vita est, et vita erat lux hominum, (5) et lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt. (6) fuit homo missus a deo, cui nomen erat Iohannes; (7) hic venit in testimonium, ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine, ut omnes crederent per illum. (8) non erat ille lumen, sed ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine. (9) erat lux vera quae inluminat omnem hominem venientem in mundum.23 (10) in mundo erat, et mundus per eum factus est, et mundus eum non cognovit. (11) in sua propria venit, et sui eum non receperunt, (12) quotquot autem receperunt eum, dedit eis potestatem filios dei fieri, his qui credunt in nomine eius, (13) qui non ex sanguinibus neque ex voluntate carnis neque ex voluntati viri sed ex deo nati sunt.24 (14) et verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis, et vidimus gloriam eius, gloriam quasi unigeniti a patre, plenum gratia et veritate.
text of 7.9.14
The in extenso citation of these central and moving texts has its effect. He could have said in cold prose, `I found that the Platonists taught of the existence of the Logos, but not that the Logos took flesh and died for us.' He could even have quoted these texts more briefly. He did not.
quia verbum caro factum est: 10.43.69, `potuimus putare verbum tuum remotum esse a coniunctione hominis et desperare de nobis, nisi caro fieret et habitaret in nobis.'
in forma patris . . .: Phil. 2.6-11--for text, see below. For a palmary study of this passage through A.'s works, see A. Verwilghen, Christologie et spiritualité selon saint Augustin: l'hymne aux Philippiens (Paris, 1985). Clearly echoed at 10.43.69, less clearly at 12.7.7, 12.15.20, 13.2.2, 13.2.3, 13.5.6. Jn. 1 and Phil. 2 regularly occur together in A. (for Jn. 1.1 and Phil. 2.6, see Verwilghen 163; for Jn. 1.14 and Phil. 2.7, see Verwilghen 230-1): e.g., Gn. c. man. 2.24.37 (first appearance of the Phil. text), f. et symb. 4.5, 4.6, en. Ps. 130.9, s. 292.3.3, civ. 10.29, ench. 10.35, trin. 1.6.7, 1.6.9, 1.7.14 (`et haec nobis regula per omnes sacras scripturas dissolvendae huius quaestionis ex uno capite epistulae Pauli apostoli promitur ubi manifestius ista distinctio commendatur'), conl. Max. 14-15, c. Max. 1.5, 1.19 (also with Rom. 1.20: see below). s. 92.3.3, `habet patriam, habet viam. habet patriam: in principio erat verbum; habet patriam: cum in forma dei esset non rapinam arbitratus est esse aequalis deo; habet viam: verbum caro factum est; habet viam: semet ipsum exinanivit formam servi accipiens. ipse est patria quo imus, ipse via qua imus.' The separate totals (H.-I. Marrou, Saint Augustin et l'augustinisme [Paris, 1955], 84) for occurrences of these verses in A. are: Jn. 1.1 (250+), Jn. 1.14 (230+), Phil. 2.7 (216).25 On the sense of the verse, see van Bavel 46n111, pressing forma to equal natura, with support from c. Max. 1.5 and Ambrose's ep. 46.7; see also B. Studer, RA 19(1984), 133-154, excellent on the importance of aequalitas in A.'s Christology.
The Phil. text was cited by Fortunatus on behalf of the Manichees (c. Fort. 7.); his quotation begins with the words of 2.5, `hoc sentite in vobis, quod et in Christo Iesu' : Fortunatus takes this verse to mean that the `incarnation' occurred `ut similitudinem animarum nostrarum ostenderet' (cf. Verwilghen 101-2.). Augustine quotes and echoes Phil. 2.6 abundantly, but in all his works, he only cites the `hoc sentite' clauses 7x in all his writings, and only once (div. qu. 71.3) before 412 (later citations at c. s. arrian. 8.6, Io. ev. tr. 47.13, ss. 144.3.4, 264.2.3, c. Max. 1.5 [there only because the text was put on the table by Maximianus during their public debate], spec.  ad loc); the possibility of deliberate avoidance should be kept in mind.
similitudinem similitudinem G S Knöll Skut.: similitudine DO Ver.
habitu: div. qu. 73.2, `neque conversus aut transmutatus in hominem, amissa incommutabili stabilitate, sed quamquam verum hominem suscipiendo, ipse susceptor, in similitudinem hominum factus, non sibi, sed eis quibus in homine apparuit habitu inventus est ut homo; id est, habendo hominem, inventus est ut homo. . . . quo nomine oportet intellegi non mutatum esse verbum susceptione hominis, sicuti nec membra veste induta mutantur.' See Mayer, Zeichen 1.324.
eum exaltavit a mortuis: Text with the acc. pronoun at ss. 37.2.2, 47.11.20, en. Ps. 109.7 and 109.20; without eum often elsewhere in A.
unigenitus: Jn. 1.14, `gloriam quasi unigeniti a patre'.
coaeternus: the word is not scriptural, but ecclesiastical from Tertullian on.
de plenitudine . . .: Jn. 1.16, `et de plenitudine eius nos omnes accepimus'; civ. 10.2, `satis ostenditur animam rationalem vel intellectualem, qualis erat in Iohanne, sibi lumen esse non posse, sed alterius veri luminis participatione lucere. hoc et ipse Iohannes fatetur, ubi ei perhibens testimonium dicit, nos omnes de plenitudine eius accepimus.'
participatione: See on 7.18.24 and cf. preceding note; en. Ps. 121.5, `ubi non rapinam arbitratus est esse aequalis deo, ibi est idipsum. ut autem efficiaris tu particeps in idipsum, factus est ipse prior particeps tui, et verbum caro factum est, ut caro participet verbum.'
manentis in se sapientiae: Wisd. 7.27, `et permanens in se omnia innovat'.
secundum tempus . . . mortuus est: Rom. 5.6, `ut quid enim Christus cum adhuc infirmi essemus secundum tempus pro impiis mortuus est?'
et filio tuo unico non pepercisti: Rom. 8.32, `qui etiam filio suo non pepercit sed pro nobis omnibus tradidit illum.'
abscondisti: Mt. 11.25--for text, see below.
ut venirent: Mt. 11.28-29--for text, see below.
diriget . . . suas: Ps. 24.9, `diriget mites in iudicio, docebit mansuetos vias suas.'
diriget diriget D O Ver.: dirigit S Maur. Knöll Skut.: dirigeret G
videns . . . nostra: Ps. 24.18, `vide humilitatem meam et laborem meum et remitte omnia peccata mea.'
cothurno: See ep. 187.6.21, quoted on 7.9.13 above, esp. `longe abest typhus et cothurnus illorum.'
discite a me: Mt. 11.29--for text, see below; for punctuation, see on 7.21.27. c. Adim. 2.2 (quoting this text), `hoc sabbatum, id est hanc requiem scriptura illa significat, quam Iudaei non intellegebant et pro temporum dispensatione carnaliter sequebantur umbram, cuius umbrae quasi corpus, id est veritas nobis danda erat.'
etsi cognoscunt deum: Rom. 1.21-22--for text, see below; for place in A.'s work, see G. Madec, RA 2 (1962), 273-309. The rhetorical strategy of this citation must be seen in the history of of Christian assimilation of philosophical doctrines (marked at the same time by the insistence that they were originally Christian all along): see R. Holte, Béatitude et Sagesse (Paris, 1962), 125-141. spir. et litt. 12.19-20, `nec immerito se apostolus ex hoc articulo convertit ad eos cum detestatione commemorandos, qui vitio illo quod superius memoravi leves et inflati ac per se ipsos velut per inane sublati, ubi non requiescerent, sed fracti dissilirent, in figmenta idolorum tamquam in lapides deciderunt. [quotes Rom. 1.20-23] . . . (20) illis per creaturam cognitoribus creatoris ea ipsa cognitio nihil profuit ad salutem'. So here in Bk. 7 A. is seen coming to know God the creator , and that is not enough.
Rom. 1.20 is typically `pro-Platonic' in A. (and often quoted without either the conclusion to that verse [`ut sint inexcusabiles'--apparently never cited by A. before conf. 10.6.8, where see notes] or the following verses), 1.21ff, `anti-philosophical' (Madec, art. cit.), hence here he limns caution. Both halves of the quotation are applied to the Platonists explicitly at civ. 8.10. See 10.6.9-10 for an exemplification of the procedure that A. takes Rom. 1.20 to prescribe. As Madec showed, this proof-text was useful against Manichees (c. Faust. 14.10, 20.19, 21.6), Pelagians (gr. et lib. arb. 2.2, c. Iul. 4.3.17, 5.4.18, c. Iul. op. imp. 3.106, 4.32, nat. et gr. 22.24, epp. 25.2, 140.37.83-84), Donatists (un. eccl. 19.49), and Arians (c. Max. 1.19, 2.7). It played a notable part in his speculative theology (trin. 2.5.25, 4.14.21, 4.17.23, 6.10.12, 13.19.24, 15.2.3, 15.6.10, 15.20.39), and in apologetic contexts as well (cons. ev. 1.34.52 and s. 52.5.15); in s. 241 (405-410), it is the master text for a discussion of the doctrine of resurrection `contra Gentiles'. For its value in the healing of curiositas, see on 13.21.31; and for a text nearly contemporary with conf. using Rom. 1.20 in a purely positive sense of the Christian approach to God, doctr. chr. 1.4.4, `si redire in patriam volumus, ubi beati esse possimus, utendum est hoc mundo, non fruendum, ut invisibilia dei per ea, quae facta sunt, intellecta conspiciantur, hoc est, ut de corporalibus temporalibusque rebus aeterna et spiritalia capiamus.'
When A. adapted this verse to his use is not certain. Courcelle (Recherches 177) and Madec (art. cit. 283), who accept the report here as a factual statement of A.'s thoughts in Milan, hence think that he had already learned to use it (perhaps in the reading of Paul that follows the platonicorum libri? or from hearing Amb. exam. 1.4.16?), but nothing in this text requires us to make that assumption. Courcelle sees an echo at quant. an. 34.77, but it is a curious one: `ideoque divine ac singulariter in ecclesia catholica traditur nullam creaturam colendam esse animae (libentius enim loquor his verbis quibus mihi haec insinuata sunt), sed ipsum tantummodo rerum quae sunt omnium creatorem, ex quo omnia, per quem omnia, in quo omnia. . . .' The parenthesis seems to put quotation marks around some of the preceding words (probably `nullam . . . animae'), but could just as easily apply to what follows (esp. `ex quo . . .' : see on 1.2.2). If that passage is not accepted as an echo,26 the earliest is vera rel. 10.19 (the anti-philosophical use of 1.21) and 52.101 (the pro-philosophical use of 1.20). But that work from the end of the Thagaste period already marks the development of A.'s Platonism past the views he held while in Italy. After vera rel. the verse occurs frequently in A.'s writings. This text and Jn. 1.1-14 occur together frequently in A. in what O'Meara marks as anti-Porphyrian passages (Porphyry's Philosophy from Oracles in Augustine [Paris, 1959], 102, 152-4, 160-2; see Madec, art. cit. 276-82).
facti sunt facti sunt D O Ver.: fiunt GS Knöll Skut.
Texts cited in 7.9.14
Mt. 11.25:27 `confiteor tibi, pater, domine caeli et terrae, quia abscondisti haec a sapientibus et prudentibus, et revelasti ea parvulis.'
Mt. 11.28:28 `venite ad me, omnes qui laboratis, et ego vos reficiam. tollite iugum meum super vos et discite a me quoniam mitis sum et humilis corde, et invenietis requiem animabus vestris.'
Rom. 1.21-25:29 (20) invisibilia enim dei a creatura mundi per ea quae facta sunt intellecta conspiciuntur, et sempiterna eius virtus et divinitas,30 ut sint inexcusabiles,31 (21) quia cognoscentes32 deum, non ut deum glorificaverunt aut gratias egerunt; sed evanuerunt in cogitationibus suis et obscuratum est insipiens cor eorum, (22) dicentes enim se esse sapientes stulti facti sunt.33 (23) et immutaverunt gloriam incorruptibilis dei in similitudinem imaginis corruptibilis hominis,34 et volucrum et quadrupedum et serpentium.35 (24) propter hoc tradidit illos deus in concupiscentias cordis eorum, in immunditiam.36 (25) qui transmutaverunt veritatem dei in mendacium, et coluerunt et servierunt creaturae, potius quam creatori, qui est benedictus in saecula.37
Philippians 2.6-11:38 (6) cum in forma dei esset, non rapinam arbitratus est esse aequalis deo, (7) semet ipsum exinanivit formam servi accipiens, in similitudine hominum factus et habitu inventus ut homo. (8) humilavit se, factus oboediens usque ad mortem crucis. (9) propter quod et deus eum exaltavit et donavit ei nomen quod est super omne nomen, (10) ut in nomine Iesu omne genu flectatur caelestium, terrestrium, et infernorum, (11) et omnis lingua confiteatur quia dominus Iesus Christus in gloria est dei patris.
text of 7.9.15
immutatam gloriam . . .: Rom. 1.23 (see text above); cf. Jn. 1.14, `et vidimus gloriam eius'. G-M conventionally remark that this charge might not be as true of Plotinus as of his followers, adducing Porph. de abstinentia 4.9, `in which he speaks approvingly of the Egyptian animal worship'; cf. also Porph. v. Plot. 2.40-42, kai/per e)n toi=s *Pla/twnos kai\ *Swkra/tous paradedome/nous geneqli/ois qu/wn te kai\ e(stiw=n tou\s e(tai/rous, and civ. 8.12 quoted above on 7.9.13. But the position of Plotinus can be taken both ways; for contrasting views, cf. E. R. Dodds, The Greeks and the Irrational (Berkeley, 1951), 285-291 (stoutly denying that Plotinus engaged in such conduct: for a similar position with less special pleading, see A. H. Armstrong, Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy [Cambridge, 1967], 203-210) with G. Fowden, The Egyptian Hermes (Cambridge, 1986), 129-131.
Aegyptium cibum: Gn. 25.33-34, `ait Iacob, iura ergo mihi. iuravit Esau et vendidit primogenita, (34) et sic accepto pane et lentis edulio comedit et bibit et abiit parvipendens quod primogenita vendidisset.' Ps. 46.5, `elegit nobis hereditatem suam, speciem Iacob quam dilexit'; en. Ps. 46.6, `prior natus est Esau, et posterior natus est Iacob; sed qui posterius natus est, praelatus est primo nato, qui per gulam perdidit primogenita sua. . . . ille plus amavit quod carnaliter concupierat quam quod spiritaliter prius nascendo meruerat; et deposuit primogenita sua, ut manducaret lenticulam. lenticulam autem invenimus cibum esse Aegyptiorum, nam ibi abundat in Aegypto. . . . ergo desiderando cibum Aegyptium, perdidit primatum.' For the OT associations of `Egypt', cf. en. Ps. 113. s. 1.3, `Aegyptus autem, quoniam interpretatur afflictio, vel affligens, vel comprimens, saepe in imagine ponitur huius saeculi'. A link between several scriptural moments is provided by Ps. 105.20 (which is echoed by Paul at Rom. 1.23): `et fecerunt vitulum in Horeb et adoraverunt sculptile et mutaverunt gloriam suam in similitudine vituli comedentis fenum.' Exod. 32.1-6 recounts the worship of the golden calf, and Act. 7.39-41, evokes the story again: Act. 7.39, `conversi sunt corde in Aegyptum.'
See on this passage Knauer 114-115, with rectification of earlier mistaken scholarly views. On Egypt as the home of idolatry, see also s. 197.1, un. bapt. 4.5 (`simulacra Aegyptiorum, ubi et instituta esse multiplicior multoque ignominiosior idolatria perhibetur'), and civ. 8.26, quoting ps.-Apul. Asclepius as saying, `terra Aegypti, sanctissima sedes delubrorum atque templorum' (though it is not certain that A. would have known that text as early as conf.); cf. also civ. 18.3 (Isis), 18.5 (Serapis), and 18.40 (magic and astrology in Egypt generally). O'Meara, Porphyry's Philosophy from Oracles in Augustine [Paris, 1959], 163-165, makes the case for linking Egypt with Porphyry. The one Egyptian `philosopher' A. consciously mentions is Hermes Trismegistus, but that only later: civ. 8.23.
opprobrium: Ps. 118.22, `aufer a me opprobrium et contemptum, quoniam testimonia tua exquisivi'; Rom. 11.12, `quod si delictum illorum divitiae sunt mundi et deminutio eorum divitiae gentium, quanto magis plenitudo eorum.'
ut maior serviret minori: Gn. 25.33, `et maior serviet minori'; Rom. 9.12, `non ex operibus sed ex vocante dictum est ei quia maior serviet minori.' The Gn. text underlies Rom. 9, which in turn is the key to extensive discussion of grace vs. merit at div. qu. Simp. 1.2.3ff, showing that merit (here, seniority) does not prevail.
et vocasti gentes: Ps. 78.1, `deus, venerunt gentes in hereditatem tuam.'
ego ad te veneram ex gentibus: Courcelle, Les Confessions 61n3, `ne peut être prise au sens propre, étant donné qu'Augustin n'a jamais été païen et que le contexte, relatif aux "dépouilles d'égypte", est tout d'exégèse allégorique.' But A. would not take the expression so: (1) he did not come to Christianity out of Jewish tradition; (2) he thinks himself to have been a `pagan' (see on 2.3.6 for his exegesis of Jer. 2.27); (3) see the similar phrase emphasized in quotation below from doctr. chr. This is the most autobiographical sentence in the paragraph, for as a gentile A. was paradoxically less vulnerable to the seductions of idolatry than the Jews had been.
aurum: The Egyptian gold is Platonism; that equation is the clearest mark of the distance and reserve with which A., writing c. 397, means to treat the encounter with the platonicorum libri. Exod. 3.22, `et spoliabitis Aegyptum' (cf. Exod. 11.2, `ut postulet vir ab amico suo et mulier a vicina sua vasa argentea et aurea'). A.'s authoritative interpretation, not long before conf., is doctr. chr. 2.40.60, where the Platonists are named: `philosophi autem qui vocantur, si qua forte vera et fidei nostrae adcommodata dixerunt, maxime platonici, non solum formidanda non sunt, sed ab eis etiam tamquam ab iniustis possessoribus in usum nostrum vindicanda. sicut enim Aegyptii non tantum idola habebant et onera gravia, quae populus Israhel detestaretur et fugeret, sed etiam vasa atque ornamenta de auro et argento et vestem, quae ille populus exiens de Aegypto sibi potius tamquam ad usum meliorem clanculo vindicavit, non auctoritate propria, sed praecepto dei ipsis Aegyptiis nescienter commodantibus ea quibus non bene utebantur, sic doctrinae omnes gentilium non solum simulata et superstitiosa figmenta gravesque sarcinas supervacanei laboris habent, quae unusquisque nostrum duce Christo de societate gentilium exiens debet abominari atque vitare, sed etiam liberales disciplinas usui veritatis aptiores et quaedam morum praecepta utilissima continent deque ipso uno deo colendo nonnulla vera inveniuntur apud eos, quod eorum tamquam aurum et argentum, quod non ipsi instituerunt, sed de quibusdam quasi metallis divinae providentiae, quae ubique infusa est, eruerunt et, quo perverse atque iniuriose ad obsequia daemonum abutuntur, cum ab eorum misera societate sese animo separat, debet ab eis auferre christianus ad usum iustum praedicandi evangelii.' See G. Folliet's note at BA 11.582-584, citing c. Faust. 22.91, which itself refers back to the doctr. chr. discussion; he identifies parallels in Origen, quoted by the Cappadocians, but see Altaner, Kleine Patristische Schriften, 197-200, arguing prudently that A. did not know the more famous Origenian model and tracing here the influence of the Latin Irenaeus ( Ir.haer. 4.30). For the history of `Egyptian gold' in Christian thought, see Holte, Béatitude et Sagesse, 111-124; Holte may be right (122) that the interpretation was a topos by this time independent of any specific textual source.
et dixit Atheniensibus: Act. 17.27-28, `quaerere deum si forte attractent eum aut inveniant, quamvis non longe sit ab unoquoque nostrum; (28) in ipso enim vivimus et movemur et sumus, sicut et quidam vestrum poetarum dixerunt: ipsius enim et genus sumus.' The quotation is in the words here marked and comes from Aratus' phaenomena. A. took the attribution to apply to the preceding words, while omitting the actual quotation (and not only here: exp. prop. Rom. 3 [juxtaposed with Rom. 1.21-23], c. litt. Pet. 2.30.69, un. bapt. 4.6 [with Rom. 1.18, 21], c. Gaud. 2.10.11 [with Rom. 1.18], s. Mai 126.6 [with Rom. 1.20-21], c. adv. leg. 2.4.13, civ. 8.10 [with Rom. 1.19ff]--listed by Madec, REAug 16 91-92). Here it gives him Pauline warrant for using non-Christian texts; he was not alone--cf. Athanasius incarn. 42.4. F. Chatillon, RMAL 1(1945), 287-305, thought the misreading deliberate, but see Courcelle, Recherches 131-132, tracing Ambrosian influence, and G. Folliet, REAug 11(1965), 293-295: Amb. bono mort. 12.55, `quod ideo frequentavit, ut scires hinc bonum illud philosophos transtulisse, quod summum adserunt; pande ergo illud vere bonum tutum, illud divinum, in quo vivimus et sumus et movemur'. The link to Rom. 1.18ff is not in Ambrose.
quidam secundum eos: The plain meaning for A. must have been `some of their authorities' and not `some among them', but it is far from clear whether he had any idea (inevitably wrong) whom Paul had in mind; the debate over this phrase (between G. Madec, REAug 16 79-137, and O'Connell, REAug 19 91-96) hangs on an ingenious, and mistaken, attempt of O'Connell's to put a name to quidam. But if A. did not have so literal-minded a notion, then he may simply never have lingered over the difficulty of the phrase.
et utique inde erant illi libri: There are three possible reasons why A. would claim the platonicorum libri came from Egypt.
(1) The exegesis of the Egyptian gold (see above).
(2) A. believed, following Ambrose, that Plato himself had derived his teaching from contact with Jewish scripture during a sojourn in Egypt. A. thought he recalled--as late as 397 and so perhaps even while writing conf.--that Ambrose had said that Plato met Jeremiah personally and was instructed by him. The notion of influence goes back to the Hellenistis Judaism, and was sometimes admitted by non-Christians (A. Festugière, La révélation d'Hermès Trismégiste [Paris, 1944], 1.19-25).39 But: retr. 2.4.2, `et in eo quod dixi de temporum historia sanctum Ambrosium solvisse quaestionem, tamquam coaetanei fuerint Plato et Hieremias, me fefellit memoria.40 nam quid ille de hac re episcopus dixerit, in libro eius legitur quem de sacramentis sive de philosophia scripsit.' The work in question is the de philosophia sive de sacramento regenerationis, which A. finally acquired from Paulinus in late 390s (ep. 31.8--Courcelle, Les Confessions 601 dates that letter to early 397). The same argument is present in other works of Ambrose, but often only in fleeting mention (e.g., Noe 8.24), and apparently the discussion in the lost work was the most extensive.
The error corrected by the retr. passage appears at doctr. chr. 2.28.43, `quantam noster Ambrosius quaestionem solvit calumniantibus Platonis lectoribus et dilectoribus, qui dicere ausi sunt omnes domini nostri Iesu Christi sententias, quas mirari et praedicare coguntur, de Platonis libris eum didicisse, quoniam longe ante humanum adventum domini Platonem fuisse, negari non potest! nonne memoratus episcopus, considerata historia gentium, cum reperisset Platonem Hieremiae temporibus profectum fuisse in Aegyptum, ubi propheta ille tunc erat, probabilius esse ostendit quod Plato potius nostris litteris per Hieremiam fuerit imbutus, ut illa posset docere vel scribere quae iure laudantur?' A. had corrected his view by the time of civ. 8.11, and goes on at 8.12 to say that wherever Plato may have derived these doctrines the analysis and judgment of Rom. 1.20ff are apposite.
(3) The most literal-minded explanation is that Plotinus himself was born in Egypt and studied at Alexandria with Ammonius Saccas (e.g., Mayer, Zeichen 1.131, du Roy 68). This weakest argument is regarded as sufficient by the doctiores. Courcelle, Les Confessions 87-88, develops it with equal literal-mindedness by noting that 8.2.3 mentions Isiac worship as a subject of Victorinus' attentions and then assuming that A. has this connection in mind here: `Voilà qui éclaire, à mon avis, le passage fameux du livre VII, où apparaît la phrase, et utique inde erant illi libri.' On this view A. passes a general condemnation on their authors: Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, and Victorinus as `pagans' have put their talents to the service of Egyptian idols. Instead of opposing zoolatry, each one has been an initiate, or an interpreter, of Isiac mysteries. In a similar vein, see E. Gilson, Med. Stud. 8 (1946), 43-52, P. Henry, Plotin et l'Occident (Louvain, 1934) 98 (noting an analogy to Plotinus 188.8.131.52-11). Madec, RA 2(1962), 279, follows O'Meara, Porphyry's Philosophy from Oracles (Paris, 1959), 151-76, in seeing Porphyry as a source infected with the Isiac virus; du Roy 68 follows Courcelle; Mandouze 502n3 is more prudent: `Le sole chose sûre, c'est que . . . ce "détournement" (inde) du platonisme dans le sens du christianisme est considéré, par le biais d'une meilleure utilisation des richesses de celui-là, comme une restitution à celui-ci.' TeSelle 242-251 offers a yet more nuanced version of the literal reading, seeing not a reaction to Porphyry but the influence of Ambrosiaster.
qui transmutaverunt: Rom. 1.25 (for text see on 7.9.14).
text of 7.10.16
This paragraph contains the first of two (by some counts: three) accounts of what Courcelle defined as `vaines tentatives d'extases plotiniennes' (Recherches 157-167 with sustained discussion, and cf. Les Confessions 17-88 and Recherches ed. 2, 405-440). All discussions of A.'s Platonic indebtednesses since Courcelle have returned to these paragraphs, in which we get our fullest--if not clearest or most concrete--view of the impact the platonicorum libri had on him.
Courcelle's views are most concisely presented at Recherches 160-164, where he presents three passages--7.10.16 (a), 7.17.23 (b), and 7.20.26 (c)--in parallel columns, marking seven stages, which he identifies:
1. reading the platonicorum libri (ac),
2. searching for truth and finding it above himself (abc),
3. ascent by degrees (b),
4. Rom. 1.20 (bc),
5. sense of certainty but incapacity (abc),
6. `faiblesse' (abc),
7. Rom. 1.20 (a). This schema highlights the parallels among these paragraphs, but imposes a structure that should not be taken as originating with A.
The view taken in this commentary differs from Courcelle's in several regards (most importantly, seeing only two `tentatives' [7.10.16 and 7.17.23] and seeing significant differences between them), and differs variously with most later studies, but can be summarized in a few words. This paragraph (7.10.16) presents A. seeking the ecstasy that Plotinus taught comes from the ascent of mind to union with highest being; this attempt ends in failure. The following paragraphs (7.11.17-7.16.22) represent further intellectual ruminations at the time, which makes possible a renewed attempt at union, which is described in 184.108.40.206 This second attempt is successful--on Plotinian terms as A. understood them. But that success leaves A. disappointed and frustrated, and the remaining paragraphs of Bk. 7 (7.18.24-7.21.27) diagnose the remaining problem and limn the the treatment that is developed in Bk. 8. These events finally put A. beyond the reach of all the main Manichean objections to Christianity that had perplexed him for years (see on 3.7.12 and on 4.15.24 [where the theme of the ascent was adumbrated]); the intellectual demolition of those objections makes possible the neo-Platonic ascent reported here. As often, A. creates problems for himself with modern readers by being inadequately narrow-minded. He gives in these pages high praise, both implicit and explicit, to Plotinian doctrines and practices, but at the same time he reserves for neo-Platonism criticism that is fundamental, irrefutable (for him), and disqualifying.
We owe two important general observations about this episode to Courcelle, Recherches 159: `le récit des Confessions nous présente, non une scène déterminée, comme à Ostie, avec la date, le cadre, les circonstances précises, mais plutot une série d'élévations accompagnées des réflexions d'Augustin évêque,' and Recherches 160: `Une large part des nombreuses citations des écritures paraît porter la marque de l'évêque d'Hippone, plutôt que celle du rhéteur Milanais. . . . L'absence de toute circonstance particulière rend plus probable qu'il s'agit, non d'une scène unique, mais d'une série de tentatives analogues.' The clear message of the text is that, whatever the details, the reading of the platonicorum libri and the experiences to which that reading led were felt by A. at the time both as a great and liberating revolution in his life and at the same time as less than completely satisfactory. The theological diagnosis of his dissatisfaction (failure to appreciate the doctrine of the incarnation: see on 7.18.24) may be in part a piece of retrospective analysis; the prescription (to espouse a life of continence and take baptism) is entirely Milanese and anything but anachronistic (see Bk. 8 generally, and see on 8.1.2 particularly).
The echoes of Plotinian texts in these paragraphs have attracted much attention. Courcelle (Recherches 167) does not insist on more than Plotinus 1.6, 1.8, and 5.1 along with Porphyry, de regressu animae, but debate continues. The argument that these pages contain `tentatives d'extase' implies that there was a success that A. did not find. But was the Ascent ever meant to be a permanent thing in Plotinus? Or was it inevitably partial, frustrated, and limited in duration? Plotinus 1.6.9 seems to say a lasting achievement is possible, but 220.127.116.11-3 recognizes that in practice it does not happen often: pw=s ou)=n ou) me/nei e)kei=: h)\ o(/ti mh/pw e)celh/luqen o(/los. e)/stai de\ o(/te kai\ to\ sunexe\s e)/stai th\s qe/as ou)ke/ti e)noxloume/nw| ou)demi/an e)no/xlhsin tou= sw/matos. There permanence of vision seems eschatological rather than imminent. 18.104.22.168-51 ends the whole collection there: e)kpi/ptwn de\ th=s qe/as pa/lin e)gei/ras a)reth\n th\n e)n au(tw=| kai\ katanoh/saas e(auto\n tau/tais kekosmhme/non pa/lin koufisqh/setai di' a)reth=s e)pi\ nou=n i)w\n kai\ sofi/an kai\ dia\ sofi/as e)p' au)to/. kai\ ou(=tos qew=n kai\ a)nqrw/pwn tw=n th=|de, fugh\ mo/nou pro\s mo/non.
Of no less importance, however, for understanding the exact purport of these paragraphs and their place in A.'s thought are the parallel texts in other works of A. himself. P. Hadot, Marius Victorinus (Paris, 1971), 208, adduces several passages later in conf. (12.11.11-14, 12.15.18-22, 10.6.9-10.25.36 [see below on 10.1.1], and suggests vera rel. 3.3 (beginning with a rejection of those `qui eorum [platonicorum] libros pervicaciter diligunt,' and ending at 3.4 with a reiteration of Jn. 1.1 for the benefit of the Platonists and the citation of 1 Jn. 2.16, which is important to the rest of vera rel.) and civ. 8.6 (which describes Platonic vision in the third person, that is, as something the Platonists themselves have known, with no personal link to A.: `cuncta corpora transcenderunt quaerentes deum . . .') as well; he holds that though Plotinian phrases occur, the structure of these passages is not Plotinian. But there are numerous other pertinent texts, arranged here by subject:
Experience at Milan: beata v. 1.4, c. acad. 2.2.5, both quoted in prolegomena. Both these texts show A. connecting, in vivid and recent memory, the reading of the platonicorum libri with his disaffection from the lures of ambitio saeculi; but in the rhetorical pattern of conf., that task has been accomplished in Bk. 6, and here the platonicorum libri work against the power of concupiscentia oculorum; the first passage also shows, incidentally, that in November 386 A. already described the books of Plotinus in juxtaposition to ecclesiastical authority.
Preparation for vision: sol. 2.20.34, `exercitationem tuam, ut illud videre sis idoneus, operamur'; quant. an. 15.25 and 33.75 (quoted below; quant. an. 33.70-76 has an extended discussion of an ascent in seven stages, but this does not exactly parallel what appears in these paragraphs). These texts indirectly reflect on the background both to this paragraph and to 7.17.23. Each makes sense only when seen against the development that leads to it (and 7.11.17-7.16.22 are thus of great importance).
Defects of vision (and see below): beata v. 4.35, `adhuc vel minus sanis vel repente apertis oculis audacter converti et totum intueri trepidamus . . . quamdiu quaerimus, nondum ipso fonte atque, ut illo verbo utar, plenitudine saturati nondum . . . sapientes ac beati sumus.'
Later judgment of vision: On the opening page of trin. (which may date to shortly after conf.), A. takes a reserved view of the philosophical ascent of the mind. There the ascent is a possibility without authentic Christianity, but not destined for success: trin. 1.1.1, `est item aliud hominum genus, eorum qui universam quidem creaturam, quae profecto mutabilis est, nituntur transcendere ut ad incommutabilem substantiam quae deus est erigant intentionem; sed mortalitatis onere praegravati, cum et videri volunt scire quod nesciunt et quod volunt scire non possunt, praesumptiones opinionum suarum audacius affirmando [cf. 7.20.26, `inter praesumptionem et confessionem'] intercludunt sibimet intellegentiae vias, magis eligentes sententiam suam non corrigere perversam quam mutare defensam.' trin. 1.1.2 continues: `ut ergo ab huiusmodi falsitatibus humanus animus purgaretur, sancta scriptura parvulis congruens nullius generis rerum verba vitavit, ex quibus quasi gradatim ad divina atque sublimia noster intellectus velut nutritus assurgeret. . . . perniciosius et inanius evanescunt [cf. Rom. 1.21] qui tertio illo genere erroris a veritate secluduntur, hoc suspicando de deo, quod neque in ipso neque in ulla creatura inveniri potest.'
Finally, what is at stake is not strictly an `ascent' but an `assumption' (`adsumpsisti'). The notion of divine initiative is certainly more Christian than Platonic (n.b. here `admonitus', and cf. 1.1.1, on the anteriority of praedicatio to human faith, prayer, invocation, and knowledge). The first sentence of this paragraph, for example, has three different phrases for the divine initiative. Simone Weil claims somewhere that there is no case in the Gospels of human initiative but always the divine call. This is not quite true, but it captures a distinctive atmosphere alien to that of Plotinus.
admonitus: Mayer, Zeichen 1.241, for whom admonitio is not merely important, but central: `So widersprüchlich das klingt, die Zeichen haben keine semantische Funktion. . . . Worin besteht die utilitas verborum (signorum)? Die Antwort Augustins--sie ist im ganzen Dialog [mag.] verstreut--lautet: Im admonere. Die signa sind Warner und Mahner; ihre gnoseologische Funktion besteht in der commemoratio sensibilis des homo interior.' mag. 11.38, `intus ipsi menti praesidentem consulimus veritatem, verbis fortasse ut consulamus admoniti,' lib. arb. 2.14.38, `foris admonet intus docet'; sim. at mor. 2.17.55, s. 264.4 (in a discussion with parallels to this whole section of conf. 7). `Admonitio' in A.'s earliest works is especially the function of the Spirit (beata v. 4.35, sol. 1.1.2 [quoted in next note]), but then the task largely shifts to the second person of the trinity (du Roy 161-165; see also G. Madec, `Admonitio', Aug.-Lex. 1.95-99). Whether to attach the present passage to either divine person is questionable (but cf. 3.4.8, `admonitio spiritus tui'). `Admonition' 16x otherwise in conf.
redire: See on 1.18.28, and add here sol. 1.1.2, `deus . . . pater pignoris quo admonemur redire ad te', c. acad. 2.2.5, `prorsus totus in me cursim redibam', and sol. 2.6.9, quoted below; ss. 96.2.2, 330.3, s. Caill. 2.11.4ff, qu. ev. 2.33, civ. 11.28 (the last three dealing with the prodigal); on neo-Platonic (cf. Plotinus 22.214.171.124, a)/nage e)pi\ sauto\n kai\ i)/de) and for a neo-Platonic and Stoic reading of A.'s exegesis, see Courcelle, Connais-toi toi-même (Paris, 1974), 128-63.
intima: As the site of such vision: ep. 10.3 (more optimistic than the present passage), `cur aliquando evenit ista securitas? cur tanto evenit crebrius, quanto quisque in mentis penetralibus adorat deum?' See on 7.16.22, `proicientis intima sua'.
duce te: As Courcelle, Recherches 128, admits, though this passage has echoes of Plotinus 1.6 (Courcelle: `une page qui suit de près' Plot. 1.6.9), this phrase is the opposite of Plot.'s (126.96.36.199) mhke/ti tou= deiknu/ntos dehqei\s a)teni/sas i)/de (and indeed, as Courcelle, Recherches 116, noted, when Ambrose was following Plot. 1.6 in his own de Isaac, he omitted any advice to such self-reliance). Cf. sol. 2.6.9, `deus, pater noster, qui ut oremus hortaris, qui et hoc quod rogaris praestas, siquidem, cum te rogamus, melius vivimus melioresque sumus, exaudi me palpitantem in his tenebris et mihi dexteram porrige. praetende mihi lumen tuum, revoca me ab erroribus; te duce in me redeam et in te'; mag. 8.21, `et tamen, si dicam vitam esse quandam beatam eandemque sempiternam, quo nos deo duce id est ipsa veritate gradibus quibusdam infirmo gressui nostro accomodatis perduci cupiam, vereor, ne ridiculus videar, qui non rerum ipsarum quae significantur sed signorum consideratione tantam viam ingredi coeperim'; conf. 2.7.15, `te duce'. Amb. ep. 37.29 (to Simplicianus), `solus igitur sapiens, qui duce deo usus est' (quoted from Philo's `quod omnis probus liber sit'); other Philonic passages in the same sense quoted by Courcelle, Les Confessions 51n5.
adiutor meus: See on 7.7.11.
vidi: The collyrium (7.8.12) has evidently worked in part, but the vision acquired is tenuous: see below. See on 1.6.9, but notice that this particular form occurs 2x in Bk. 1 (1.6.9, 1.7.11), then not again until Bk. 7, where it is frequent (7.11.17, 7.12.18, 7.14.20, 7.15.21, 7.15.21) in these mystical chapters, and then not again until Bk. 10's mystical chapters (10.3.4, 10.8.15, 10.8.15, 10.10.17, 10.12.19, 10.16.25, 10.21.30, 10.41.66, `vidi enim splendorem tuum corde saucio') that parallel the Ostia `vision'; after that, it occurs only once (11.24.31), in a negative protasis.
For the purposes of the present passage, of 7.17.23, of 9.10.23-5, and of 10.1.1-10.27.38, it is useful to consider A.'s theory (most fully propounded at Gn. litt. 12.7.16ff: on this see M. Korger, RA 2, 33-57, and the note at BA 49.575-585) of three kinds of vision: corporal, spiritual, and intellectual. Gn. litt. 12 is not surely datable before 412/15, but this theory was already present at c. Adim. 28.2 (393/6), `nam multa genera visionis in scripturis sanctis inveniuntur: unum secundum oculos corporis; sicut vidit Abraham tres viros sub ilice Mambre. . . . alterum secundum spiritum quo imaginamur ea quae per corpus sentimus; nam et ipsa pars nostra cum divinitus adsumitur, multa ei revelantur non per oculos corporis aut aures aliumve sensum carnalem, sed tamen his similia: sicut vidit Petrus discum illum submitti e caelo. . . . tertium autem genus visionis est secundum mentis intuitum, quo intellecta conspicitur veritas atque sapientia: sine quo genere illa duo quae prius exposui vel infructuosa sunt vel etiam in errorem mittunt. . . . ex hoc tertio genere est illa visio quam commemoravi dicente apostolo, invisibilia enim dei a constitutione mundi per ea quae facta sunt intellecta conspiciuntur.' In principle, the third type of vision is infallible (Gn. litt. 12.25.52, `in illis intellectualibus visis non fallitur'). The result can be dramatically expressed: see Gn. litt. 12.26.54, quoted in the note preceding comm. on 10.1.1. On this reading, it makes sense to say that the failed ascent of Bk. 4 (see on 4.13.20) is a corporal vision of the first type; the ascents of Bk. 7 culminating in 7.17.23 are spiritual visions of the second type; and the ascent of Ostia at 9.10.23-25 is an intellectual vision of the third type, as are by implication the later ascents of Bks. 10 and 11-13, and by intention those of later works of A.'s that exemplify the method of the `ascent'.
oculo animae meae: See on 12.20.29, `interiori oculo'.
lucem incommutabilem: neo-Platonic sources aside, what are we invited, by the text of 7.9.13-15, to think this light must be? 7.9.13 (< Jn. 1.9), `sed verbum deus est lumen verum, quod inluminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum' (cf. Io. ev. tr. 13.5, and--quoted below--trin. 8.2.3 and s. 52.6.16). Cf. sol. 1.1.3, `deus intellegibilis lux, in quo et a quo et per quem intellegibiliter lucent, quae intellegibiliter lucent omnia.'
oleum super aquam: See en. Ps. 29. en. 2.10, quoted on 13.9.10.
ipsa fecit me: Cf. Ps. 99.3, `scitote quoniam dominus ipse est deus; ipse fecit nos, et non nos', and see on 9.10.25 and 10.6.9, where this verse recurs in later versions of the ascent.
qui novit veritatem , novit eam, et qui novit eam, novit aeternitatem : The trinitarian interpretation is confirmed by the subtext, Jn. 14.7, `si cognovistis me, et patrem meum utique cognovistis'. The verse immediately preceding, Jn. 14.6, is the familiar `ego sum via et veritas et vita,' so the equivalences are easy ones for A. These scriptural echoes at the center of the `vision' arouses suspicion: is A. Christianizing what happened ex post facto? He is at least explaining it in Christian terms.
caritas : Cf. `contremui amore'. Courcelle, Recherches 129n2, finds parallels in both Plotinus (1.6.7) and Ambrose (Isaac 8.78, `summum illud bonum, cuius nobis accenditur caritas et desiderium'), but once again the question of sources must be joined by the question of context. For A. in conf., caritas is a distinct signpost for the third person of the trinity, and thus completes a pattern from above, which is renewed in what follows. See on 13.7.8.
o aeterna veritas  et vera caritas  et cara aeternitas : A common triad: cat. rud. 26.50, `hoc autem ita breviter discit, ut quidquid audierit ex libris canonicis quod ad dilectionem aeternitatis  et veritatis  et sanctitatis  et ad dilectionem proximi referre non possit, figurate dictum vel gestum esse credat; atque ita conetur intellegere, ut ad illam geminam referat dilectionem'; Gn. litt. 8.25.47, `aeternitate, veritate, caritate creatoris' (at Gn. litt. 8.24.45, 8.26.48, the triad is aeternitas, veritas, voluntas); again at trin. 4 proem, 4.21.30, ep. 169.1.4, `ad eandem perveniant aeternitatem  veritatem  caritatem , id est ad stabilem  certam  plenamque  felicitatem, ubi manentibus  videntibus  amantibus  sint cuncta perspicua'; civ. 11.28, `quoniam igitur homines sumus ad nostri creatoris imaginem creati, cuius est vera aeternitas, aeterna veritas, aeterna et vera caritas, estque ipse aeterna et vera et cara trinitas neque confusa neque separata'; civ. 12.1, Io. ev. tr. 97.1 (`de dei aeternitate, veritate, sanctitate'); s. 71.12.18 (quoted on 11.1.1: aeternitas/veritas/ bonitas); adumbrated at mor. 1.30.62, aeternitas/veritas/pax. This phrase is the focus of an important essay on the nature of mystical knowledge in A., exemplified by texts from throughout conf.: P. Blanchard, RA 2(1962), 311-330; it has also received attention for its rhetorical gradatio in a delightful notice by E. Dutoit, Augustinus 13(1968), 153-166.
The received punctuation in editions from the Maurists to Verheijen places an exclamation after `cara aeternitas' : the comma printed here connects with the following phrases. Knauer 186n1 would also put a comma after `nocte', while du Roy 75n3 would put a period after `tu es deus meus' (his disjunction of that line from the following is undermined by 10.34.53, quoted below). Cf. Ps. 42.2, `tu es deus meus et fortitudo mea.'
tibi suspiro die ac nocte: This line has the sound of a biblical echo, but it is not; du Roy 76n1 cites Ps. 41.4 (a good Psalm for mystical ascents), `fuerunt mihi lacrimae meae panis die ac nocte' (en. Ps. 41.6, `sive totum tempus accipias diem et noctem; sive diem intellegas pro huius saeculi prosperitate, noctem vero pro huius saeculi adversitate' [sim. on `die ac nocte' at en. Ps. 1.2 on Ps. 1.2]), but could as easily have cited Ps. 1.2, `et in lege eius meditabitur die ac nocte', and Jer. 9.1, `et plorabo die ac nocte'. en. Ps. 127.10, `redis ergo, et plangis ad deum; quia illi suspiras, antequam videas, et desiderio ipsius gemis; et quia in ipsius desiderio ploras, dulces sunt et ipsae lacrimae, et pro cibo tibi erunt, quia factae sunt tibi et ipsae panis die ac nocte'. See on 3.6.10, `suspirabant tibi', and cf. 10.34.53, `ab illa pulchritudine veniunt quae supra animas est, cui suspirat anima mea die ac nocte', 6.5.8, 6.10.17, 13.13.14.
tu adsumpsisti me: Cf. Ps. 26.10, `pater meus et mater mea dereliquerunt me, dominus autem adsumpsit me'; cf. div. qu. Simp. 2.1.1, `spiritus hominis divino spiritu adsumptus', and see Io. ev. tr. 18.11, quoted below on `reverberasti'. See BA 13.616-617; cf. s. 7.7, `qui enim hoc quod est et vere est digne intellexerit, et qualitercumque lumine veracissimae essentiae, vel strictim sicut coruscatione adflatus fuerit, longe se videt infra, longe remotissimum, longe dissimillimum sicut ille ait: ego dixi in ecstasi mea. [Ps. 30.23] adsumpta enim mente vidit nescio quid quod plus ad illum erat.' cons. ev. 4.10.20, `quisquis autem arbitratur homini vitam istam mortalem adhuc agenti posse contingere, ut dimoto atque discusso omni nubilo phantasiarum corporalium atque carnalium serenissima incommutabilis veritatis luce potiatur et mente penitus a consuetudine vitae huius alienata illi constanter et indeclinabiliter haereat, nec quid quaerat nec quis quaerat intellegit'; on the opacity of the self to the self, see on 10.8.15. du Roy 76n2 wrestles with translation of the indirect discourse, criticizes BA (`que je n'étais pas encore être à le voir') and settles for: `pour me faire voir qu'existe ce qu'il y a à contempler, mais je n'étais pas encore capable.' See O'Connell, St. Augustine's Confessions (Cambridge, Mass., 1969), 1-3. Cf. Plotinus 188.8.131.52, yuxh\ . . . a)ci/a tou= skopei=n. See also the close, but not identical, expression at 7.17.23 (`sed nondum me esse qui cohaererem'), with notes there.
qui viderem: For the form of expression, cf. en. Ps. 58. s. 2.11, `ut essem qui te invocarem, quid egi?'
reverberasti: The image is visual (for the underlying theory of vision, see on 10.6.9); cf. 9.11.27, `[Monnica] reverberans eum oculis' : there in a purely human setting, the one who looks has the effect on the one looked at--the radii from her eyes defeat those from the other's eyes.
The word evokes a remarkable range of parallel texts (see du Roy 77), including Ambrosian antecedents: e.g., Amb. bono mort. 11.49, `si solis radios oculi nostri ferre non possunt et si quis diutius e regione solis intenderit, caecari solere perhibetur; si creatura creaturam sine fraude atque offensione sui non potest intueri, quomodo potest sine periculo sui vibrantem cernere vultum creatoris aeterni, corporis huius opertus exuviis?'; see also Amb. Abr. 2.4.16, in Luc. 7.17, exam. 4.1.1. Testard 166-167 refers to Cic. Tusc. 1.30.73., `sic mentis acies seipsa intuens non numquam hebescit, ob eamque causam contemplandi diligentiam amittimus' (that book of Tusc. is apposite in subject to that of Amb.'s bono mort., and it would not be surprising if Amb.'s treatise had sent A. and some of his friends to compare Cicero's discussion).
These next texts all represent the difficulty of approach, the likelihood of being repelled, and the need for moral purification if the approach is to be (more or less) successful. As such, they apply in some ways to both the `tentatives d'extase' of this book (here and 7.17.23), and do not address the distinction between the attempt with no success (as here) and the attempt with fleeting success (7.17.23). The verbal parallels among these texts are numerous; only those are highlighted that reflect the present text more or less directly. The possibility of ascent was one A. retained; see du Roy 78n1, quoting en. Ps. 134.6 (see below on 7.17.23).
The difficulty of ascent and the impossibility of persevering in the vision to which it led were scarcely a surprise to A. at the time, and scarcely in themselves signs that the `tentative' had failed. Both the Platonic tradition and A.'s later comments insist that relapse into the material world is inevitable. More pertinently, that relapse is an essential feature of the narrative of what is by all agreed to be the most satisfactory mystical ascent of conf., that of Ostia at 9.10.25.
sol. 1.9.16-1.10.17, `quaenam ergo talium oculorum impudentia est, velle illum solem videre? (17) . . . nonne vides hos corporis oculos etiam sanos luce solis istius saepe repercuti et averti atque ad illa sua obscura confugere?'; sol. 1.13.23, `alii [oculi] vero ipso quem videre vehementer desiderant fulgore feriuntur et eo non viso saepe in tenebras cum delectatione redeunt'; quant. an. 33.75, `serenum atque rectum aspectum in id quod videndum est dirigere. quod qui prius volunt facere quam mundati et sanati fuerint, ita illa luce reverberantur veritatis, ut . . . cum quadam libidine et voluptate miserabili in suas tenebras . . . refugiant' (sim. at quant. an. 15.25); mor. 1.7.11, `[ratio,] ubi ad divinum perventum est, avertit sese; intueri non potest, palpitat, aestuat, inhiat amore, reverberatur luce veritatis, et ad familiaritatem tenebrarum suarum non electione sed fatigatione convertitur'; lib. arb. 2.16.42, `transcende ergo et animum artificis, ut numerum sempiternum videas: iam tibi sapientia de ipsa interiore sede fulgebit et de ipso secretario veritatis. quae si adhuc languidiorem aspectum tuum reverberat, refer oculum mentis in illam viam ubi ostendebat hilariter. memento sane distulisse te visionem quam fortior saniorque repetas'; so later vera rel. 20.39, en. Ps. 5.6, c. Faust. 15.8, `illis ictibus asperis radiorum, quibus reverberati in densiores tenebras pellebantur'; s. 293.4, `illi continuo repercussi, . . . ad sui cordis tenebras confugerunt'; en. Ps. 145.5, `coruscatione quadam perstringitur, non est tam valida ut maneat ibi'; cons. ev. 4.10.20, `[anima] si quando adiuta excedit . . . hanc carnalem caliginem . . . tamquam rapida coruscatione perstringitur et in suam infirmitatem redit vivente desiderio quo rursus erigatur, nec sufficiente munditia qua figatur'; Io. ev. tr. 18.11, `si utcumque erexistis cor vestrum ad videndum verbum, et ipsius luce reverberati ad solita recidistis, rogate medicum ut adhibeat collyria mordacia, praecepta iustitiae. . . . scis certe esse quod videas, sed idoneum non te esse qui videas'; en. Ps. 41.10, trin. 8.2.3, `deus lux est, non quomodo isti oculi vident, sed quomodo videt cor cum audis, veritas est. noli quaerere quid sit veritas; statim enim se opponent caligines imaginum corporalium et nubila phantasmatum, et perturbabunt serenitatem quae primo ictu diluxit tibi, cum dicerem, veritas. ecce in ipso primo ictu quo velut coruscatione perstringeris, cum dicitur, veritas, mane si potes: sed non potes. relaberis in ista solita atque terrena. quo tandum pondere [see on 13.9.10], quaeso, relaberis, nisi sordium contractarum cupiditatis visco et peregrinationis erroribus'; trin. 12.14.23, `sed veluti acie ipsa reverberata repellitur et fit rei non transitoriae transitoria cogitatio'; trin. 15.6.10, `sed quia lux illa ineffabilis nostrum reverberabat obtutum [i.e., in the earlier books of trin.], . . . in creatura . . . immorati sumus a nono usque ad quartum decimum librum' (thus the fifteenth book is the renewed attempt at direct vision--also a failure); ep. 119.2 (Consentius of Minorca [who had read conf.: ep. 12*.1] writing to A.), `nisi tu tantae rei dux ac magister adfueris, velut lippientibus oculis prospicere in eam tanti luminis repercussa fulgore cogitatio nostra formidat'; s. 52.6.16, `videtur mihi iste qui hoc [Ps. 30.23] dixit, levasse ad deum animam suam, et effudisse super se animam suam, . . . pervenisse spiritali quodam contactu ad illam incommutabilem lucem, eamque infirmitate conspectus ferre non valuisse; et in suam quasi aegritudinem atque languorem iterum recidisse.'
radians: Of `radiating light' at Io. ev. tr. 2.7, `plerumque fit ut in aliquo corpore radiato cognoscatur ortus esse sol, quem oculis videre non possumus'; elsewhere more often of `directing the gaze' (cf. Io. ep. tr. 6.10, `dirige radium dextrum sine altero, si potes. simul coeunt, simul diriguntur'). See on 10.6.9.
contremui amore atque horrore: 9.4.9, `inhorrui timendo. . . . audivi et contremui' (of reading Ps. 4 at Cassiciacum). Such a shudder is not necessarily a pious emotion: Jas. 2.19, `et daemones credunt et contremiscunt'; cf. Jer. 23.9. O. Perler, Unterwegs zur Einheit (Festschrift H. Stirnimann: Freiburg [Schweiz], 1980), 241-252, attempts to root this phrase in Plotinian and Christian texts; the results are not decisive for this phrase, but are of wider interest.
in regione dissimilitudinis: Platonic and Christian themes converge and nearly merge. See Lk. 15.13, `et non post multos dies congregatis omnibus adolescentior filius peregre profectus est in regionem longinquam et ibi dissipavit substantiam suam vivendo luxuriose', and cf. BA 13.689-693. The formula comes from Plotinus (184.108.40.206-17), e)n tw=| th=s a)nomoio/thtos to/pw|, where it undoubtedly derives from Plato, politicus 273d6-e1.42 A. quotes Plotinus expressly at civ. 9.17, `ubi est illud Plotini,43 ubi ait, fugiendum est igitur ad carissimam patriam, et ibi pater, et ibi omnia. quae igitur, inquit, classis aut fuga? similem deo fieri. si ergo deo quanto similior, tanto fit quisque propinquior: nulla est ab illo alia longinquitas quam eius dissimilitudo.' Similar dissimilitudes at ss. 171.3.3, 369.2 (concluding that what is needed is a mediator, specifically the `mediator dei et hominum, homo Christus Iesus' [1 Tim. 2.5: see on 7.18.24]). As BA 13.691 points out, A.'s perspective was different from that of Plotinus; for P., dissimilitude emphasizes the downward movement, but for A. it is felt on the reverse, on the ascent. There are links to the Christian doctrine of human creation in the `image and likeness' of God as well: for Ambrose's teaching, see on 6.3.4, and for A.'s elaboration, see on 13.22.32.
For regio in conf., see on 4.16.30. There are no immediate biblical parallels beyond the prodigal passage in Luke, but Mayer, Zeichen 1.147n124, offers a range of analogous texts, e.g., Ps. 136.4, `terra aliena', Ps. 87.13, `terra oblivionis', et sim. Just as with `reverberatur', the range of echoes in A.'s writings is considerable, but does not speak to the distinction between 7.10.16 and 7.17.23.
sol. 2.7.13, `nonne similitudinem veritatis matrem et dissimilitudinem falsitatis esse fatendum est?'; developed notably in vera rel., e.g., vera rel. 36.66, `ea forma  est omnium quae sunt, quae summa similitudo principii et veritas  est, quia sine ulla dissimilitudine est' (see du Roy 335-338 and cf. vera rel. 55.113); div. qu. 23., `similitudo patris filius dicitur'; from much later, Io. ev. tr. 23.8, `recessisti quidem a pristina similitudine, sed adhuc iaces in magna dissimilitudine'; trin. 7.6.12, `non enim locorum intervallis sed similitudine acceditur ad deum, et dissimilitudine receditur ab eo' (sim. at s. 171.3.3, en. Ps. 34. s. 2.6, en. Ps. 94.2 [`ergo si dissimilitudine recedimus a deo, similitudine accedimus ad deum'--if similitudine is read as = the second person, then that phrase takes on an important double meaning], 99.5, 146.14). With a link to the second person of the trinity, we can see again the appositeness of lib. arb. 2.11.30 (quoted above on `reverberasti'), and cf. s. 7.7 (quoted above on `tu adsumpsisti me').
This expression has evoked a vast literature: parallels are noted, inter alia, at Athanasius (de incarnatione verbi 43.4: verbally identical to Plotinus), Eusebius (quoting Plato as above), Proclus (in primum Alcibiadem 110e), Simplicius, William of St. Thierry, Bernard of Clairvaux; further esp. in Courcelle, Les Confessions 624-640, Courcelle, Recherches ed. 2, 405-440, and Courcelle, REAug 16(1970), 271-281. Other studies include A.E. Taylor, ADHLMA 9(1934), 305-306; F. Chatillon, Mélanges E. Podechard (Lyon, 1945), 85-102; E. Gilson, Med. Stud. 9.1947, 108-130; G. Dumeige, `Dissemblance', Dictionnaire de Spiritualité 3.1330-1346 (esp. 1333-1336); J.C. Didier, Mél. sc. rel. 8(1951), 205-210; Takoshi Katô, Studies in Medieval Thought, 2(1959), 43-53; Mayer, Zeichen 1.350-352.
vocem tuam de excelso: Jer. 31.15, `vox in excelso audita est lamentationis'. The garden scene (8.12.29) also centers on a voice heard, surrounded by some mystery, and the `vision of Ostia' is indeed an `audition' (9.10.25); cf. here `et clamasti . . .', where the divine voice is heard again. See du Roy 81 (`Dans cette rencontre mystique, l'audition prend le relai de la vision'), who rightly takes `cibus sum grandium . . .' in a Eucharistic sense; for similar food-imagery with eucharistic overtones, see on 7.18.24 and 10.43.70. For similar direct discourse attributed to God, see on 6.16.26.
cibus: Metaphorically of God and Truth at 3.1.1, 4.1.1, 10.6.8, 13.18.23; for cibus eucharistically, cf. Jn. 6.27, 6.56.
cresce et manducabis me: Io. ev. tr. 18.7, `si enim adhuc parvus es, dicunt tibi angeli: cresce; nos panem manducamus, tu lacte nutrire, lacte fidei, ut pervenias ad cibum speciei.'
erudisti hominem: Ps. 38.12, `pro iniquitate erudisti hominem et tabescere fecisti sicut araneam animam meam'; en. Ps. 38.18, `quid tabidius aranea? . . . pone supra leviter digitum, ruina est. . . . talem fecisti animam meam, inquit, erudiendo me pro iniquitate. . . . ipsa est ergo gratia beneficii dei prima, redigere nos ad confessionem infirmitatis'. Cf. 13.12.13, `erudisti hominem'.
et dixi: These remarks recall an aching discouragement. In 7.1.1ff, he recalls having seen his way, as he thought, past purely material notions of God; the platonicorum libri propel him further in that direction, but now his frustration raises the question anew, however fleetingly. The response given is put carefully in Christian terms.
clamasti: 10.27.38, `vocasti et clamasti et rupisti surditatem meam'.
de longinquo: 13.1.1, `ut audirem de longinquo'. See on `in regione dissimilitudinis' here, and see on 7.21.27.
ego sum qui sum: Exod. 3.14, `ego sum qui sum'. The echo says concisely that A. has found God the Father (the Old Testament God, eternal creator; in A.'s triadic terms, esse [13.11.12]). What he has sought in Bk. 7 (see on 7.1.1 for his problems in imagining an incorporeal God), he has found, but in a puzzling state of alienation that leaves room for Bk. 8 and Christ. Note as well that the words are specific, earthly words, not ineffabilia verba (2 Cor. 12.4, as A. quotes that text): see on 9.10.25 for the contrast with Ostia.
For A. on Exod. 3.14 see s. 7.7 (quoted above on `tu adsumpsisti me'); cf., among many other texts, vera rel. 49.97, f. et symb. 4.6, en. Ps. 1.6, en. Ps. 9.11, doctr. chr. 1.32.35 (`ille enim summe ac primitus est, qui omnino incommutabilis est et qui plenissime dicere potuit, ego sum qui sum'), nat. b. 19, conf. 13.31.46. Another forty passages are listed by E. Zum Brunn, drawing on Beuron archives, in Dieu et l'être: Exégèses d'Exode 3,14 et de Coran 20,11-24 (Paris, 1978), 164. Few antedate conf., but the doctrine is fully consistent from the outset, even before ordination. At civ. 8.11, A. takes this coincidence of Platonic and Christian doctrine as an indication that Plato might have read Jewish scripture (whatever the chronological problems about Jeremiah, Egypt, etc., which in the same chapter he has finally got straightened out: see on 7.9.15 above). See also Madec, Lectio VI-IX 63.
The verse is inextricably linked with many other topics, especially that of divine immutability; in A., see F. Körner, Das Sein und der Mensch: Die existentielle Seinsentdeckung des jungen Augustin (Freiburg, 1959), A. di Giovanni, REAug 20(1974), 285-312; E. Zum Brunn, in Dieu et l'étre 141-164, expanded by the same author's Le Dilemme de l'étre et du Néant chez saint Augustin (Paris, 1978: Eng. trans. as St. Augustine: Being and Nothingness [New York, 1988]).
quae per ea . . . conspicitur: The pro-Platonic (on A.'s reading) Rom. 1.20 says that what he learned here was good and true, and yet everything depended on whether he went on to react in the way condemned by Rom. 1.21ff, or whether he put it to good use.
text of 7.11.17
The ontology of Exod. 3.14 is central to the adaptation of neo-Platonism here. If we take 7.10.16 as one vision, without clarity because of the infirmitas aspectus, then this paragraph begins the readjustment of ontology that will lead to the revelation (7.12.18, `manifestatum est mihi quoniam bona sunt') of the goodness of created things and hence make possible the more successful ascent of 7.17.23. A right understanding of scripture and a new conception of God, culminating in the discovery of the platonicorum libri, made possible the attempted ascent; now a right understanding of the goodness of created things (hence an answer to the last of the Manichean questions [3.7.12], `unde malum') will remove the last barrier.
In the absence of circumstantial narrative, it is safer to take this whole development from 7.10.16 to the end of the book as a condensed account of a single sequence of thought and inspiration (cf. `vidi' here, which suggests as much with the verbal echo of 7.10.16, and cf. 7.12.18, `vidi et manifestatum est mihi'), with both positive and negative aspects.
id enim vere est: en. Ps. 134.4, `est enim est, sicut bonorum bonum bonum est'; s. 7.7, `esse, nomen est incommutabilitatis'; mor. 2.1.1, `id enim est quod esse verissime dicitur. subest enim huic verbo manentis in se atque incommutabiliter sese habentis natuare significatio.' The same sentiment often in the texts cited apposite to Exod. 3.14 above.
mihi autem . . . bonum est: Ps. 72.28, `mihi autem adhaerere deo bonum est' (Ps.-text varies between in- and ad-haerere [but Veronensis has clearly adiungi]; Vg. adhaerere). A favorite verse, echoed in conf. at 12.9.9, 12.11.12, 12.11.13, 12.15.19, 12.15.21, 12.15.22, 12.19.28, 13.2.3. This text marks an important difference between the visions of 7.10.16 and 7.17.23: the former reads, `ut viderem esse quod viderem, et nondum me esse qui viderem'; the latter, stronger, reads, `neque ullo modo dubitabam esse cui cohaererem, sed nondum me esse qui cohaererem.' The verse is expounded without benefit of scriptural support at div. qu. 54., `haec autem est ipsa veritas; cui quia intellegendo anima rationalis iungitur, et hoc bonum est animae, recte accipitur id esse quod dictum est, mihi autem adhaerere deo bonum est.' At civ. 10.18, 10.25, and 12.1, the verse measures the distance between Christian and Platonist views of the beata vita, esp. civ. 10.25, `quia ecce, inquit, qui longe se faciunt a te, peribunt; perdidisti omnem, qui fornicatur abs te, [Ps. 72.27] hoc est, qui multorum deorum vult esse prostibulum. unde sequitur illud propter quod et cetera de eodem psalmo dicenda visa sunt: mihi autem adhaerere deo bonum est, non longe ire, non per plurima fornicari. adhaerere autem deo tunc perfectum erit, cum totum quod liberandum est fuerit liberatum.' In an anti-Manichean context: c. ep. fund. 38.44, `quamvis sit malum corruptio et quamvis non sit a conditore naturarum, sed ex eo sit quod de nihilo factae sunt, tamen etiam ipsa illo regente et gubernante omnia quae fecit sic ordinata est ut non noceat nisi naturis infimis ad supplicium damnatorum et exercitationem admonitionemque redeuntium [cf. 7.10.16], ut inhaereant deo incorruptibili maneantque incorrupti, quod unum est bonum nostrum, sicut per prophetam dicitur, mihi autem inhaerere deo bonum est.' Finally, en. Ps. 5.14 brackets this verse with Mt. 25.21, `intra in gaudium domini tui', itself central to the ascent at Ostia (9.10.25).
in se . . . omnia: Wisd. 7.27, `in seipsa manens innovat omnia'; clearly echoed here, adumbrated at 1.4.4, 4.5.10, 7.9.14, and returning at another moment of mystical vision at 9.10.24 (`in se permanenti sine vetustate atque innovanti omnia'). lib. arb. 2.12.34, `cum illa [veritas] in se manens nec proficiat cum plus a nobis videtur nec deficiat cum minus, sed integra et incorrupta et conversus laetificet lumine et aversos puniat caecitate. quid quod etiam de ipsis mentibus nostris secundum illam iudicamus, cum de illa nullo modo iudicare possimus? . . . tantum autem mens debet intellegere quantum propius admoveri atque inhaerere potuerit incommutabili veritati.' 44 en. Ps. 109.12 links the verse to Jn. 1.1ff, to Phil. 2.6ff, and to mystical ascent: `veritas enim incommutabilis quod est verbum dei, deus apud deum, per quem facta sunt omnia, in se manens innovat omnia. hanc ut videamus, magna et perfecta cordis munditia necessaria est, quae fit per fidem. demonstrata enim forma servi, dilata est ad demonstrandum formam dei. . . . ducitur enim ad quandam visionem ineffabilem, quam non merebuntur impii.'
et dominus meus es: Ps. 15.2, `dixi domino, deus meus es tu, quoniam bonorum meorum non eges'; at ep. 138.6 and 138.7, as at several other places in en. Ps., this verse is taken as a proof-text that God does not have need of sacrificial offerings; civ. 10.5 goes farther: `dixi domino, dominus meus es tu, quoniam bonorum meorum non eges . . . ne ipsa quidem iustitia hominis deus egere credendus est'. For the association with Wisd. 7.27, cf. Ambrose, Isaac 8.78, `ipsum autem manens in semet ipso dat aliis, nihil autem in se ex aliis suscipit. de quo propheta ait, dixi domino meo, deus meus es tu, quoniam bonorum meorum non indiges.'
text of 7.12.18
These paragraphs between the two ascents of 7.10.16 and 7.17.23 have been little attended to. There are no citations from here through 7.16.22 in the `index augustinien' of the first edition of Courcelle's Recherches, only two citations in his Les Confessions (setting aside 10 citations in the chapters devoted to the Nachleben); the best treatment is du Roy 82-88.
manifestatum: Cf. `et manifestatum est' near the end of the paragraph; in conf. always of truth and usually of divine indication (3.4.8 [the substance of Col. 2.8-9 found in the Hortensius], 4.15.26 [in the attempted `ascent' of the de pulchro et apto], 5.12.22 [non-divine source], 10.32.48, 13.18.23, 13.24.37, 13.34.49). Here the development that follows the first `manifestatum' is purely Plotinian, with no scriptural overtones; having completed that exposition, he turns to the crucial verb `vidi' and uses `manifestatum' again. What follows is the same doctrine clearly Christianized (`tu fecisti'), with a clear echo of an important scriptural text (Gn. 1.31).
bona sunt quae corrumpuntur: Plotinus 220.127.116.11-32 (civ. 10.14 attests that A. knew this treatise), o(/lws de\ to\ kako\n e)/lleiyin a)gaqou= qete/on: a)na/gkh de\ e)/lleiyin ei)=nai e)ntau=qa a)gaqou=, o(/ti e)n a)/llw|. to\ ou)=n a)/llo, e)n w(=| e)sti to\ a)gaqon, e(/teron a)gaqou= o)\n poiei= th\n e)/lleiyin: tou=to ga\r ou)k a)gaqo\n h)=n. dio\ ou)/te a)pole/sqai ta\ kaka/, o(/ti te a)/lla a)/llwn e)la/ttw pro\s a)gaqou= fu/sin e(/tera/ te ta)=lla tou= a)gaqou= th\n ai)ti/an th=s u(posta/sews e)kei=qen labo/nta, toiau=ta dh\ geno/mena tw=| po/rrw. See also Plotinus 1.8.
G-M: `But by making privatio equivalent to corruptio A. gives a special turn to the theory.' Cf. mor. 2.5.7, `sed corruptio non est in seipsa, sed in aliqua substantia quae corrumpit: non enim substantia est ipsa corruptio. . . . quod enim corrumpitur, integritate et sinceritate privatur. quod ergo non habet ullam sinceritatem qua privetur, corrumpi non potest: quod autem habet, profecto bonum est participatione sinceritatis. item quod corrumpitur, profecto pervertitur: quod autem pervertitur, ordine privatur: ordo autem bonum est.' A. goes further than Plato and Plotinus in denying the existence of evil at all (sol. 1.2.2, `deus qui . . . ostendis malum nihil esse'); closer parallels to A.'s view in later neo-Platonists, notably Proclus and Boethius (see J. Gruber, Kommentar zu Boethius De Consolatione Philosophiae [Berlin, 1978], 312, to which cf. H. Chadwick, Boethius [Oxford, 1981], 239). H. Chadwick, Augustine (Oxford, 1986), 20: instancing Plotinus 18.104.22.168-50, u(/lh toi/nun kai\ a)sqenei/as yuxh=| ai)ti/a kai\ kaki/as ai)ti/a, C. concludes: `It is fair to deduce that even Plotinus failed to achieve a clear and consistent position [on the nature of evil]. After his conversion Augustine sought to correct Plotinus' mistakes.'
On the the search for an answer to the question `unde malum', see on 3.7.12. For this Platonic doctrine positively contrasted to the Manichean teaching, see civ. 14.5. The argument that evil was nothing was not new to A. at this time, for he had heard it when among the Manichees: mor. 2.8.11, quoted on 5.11.21. The idea appears as well in Cic. Tusc. 3.8.18., `nequitia . . . ab eo quod nequicquam est in tali homine ex quo idem nihili dicitur' (which seems to be echoed at beata v. 2.8; whether A. knew that passage earlier, of course, there are other signs that a renewed reading of Cicero was part of the Milan period--see on 6.16.26). Thirty-five years after Milan, A. recalled the doctrine as he heard it from the mouth of Ambrose: c. Iul. 1.9.44, quoting `ille doctor meus' from the de Isaac 7.60: `quid ergo est malitia, nisi boni indigentia. . . . non enim sunt mala, nisi quae privantur bonis: per mala tamen factum est ut bona eminerent. ergo indigentia boni radix malitiae est.'
nocet . . . noceret: `Harm', for all the Plotinian comparanda here, also evokes the argument of Nebridius, made at Carthage and reported in 7.2.3, where divine immutability is made evidence that true good cannot be harmed. The verb, fairly common in Bks. 1-7, disappears from conf. after this paragraph except for 12.11.11 (making the same point) and 13.21.31 (the inability of the serpent to do harm).
privantur bono: Care must be taken to avoid both anachronism and excessive skepticism. The passage from mor. 2.5.7 quoted above is apparently the earliest appearance of what becomes A.'s characteristic vocabulary for the doctrine; but few would suggest that the thing itself is impossible without the ipsissima verba that he would later use so familiarly. The only other substantial text earlier than conf. is lib. arb. 3.13.36, and nat. b. 3 and 23 are more or less contemporary; see also c. Iul. imp. 3.206, civ. 14.11, and c. adv. leg. 1.5.7.
omnia bona tu fecisti: Gn. 1.31, `et vidit deus omnia quae fecit et ecce bona valde'; cf. Sirach 39.21, `opera domini universa bona valde'. Gn. c. man. 1.21.32, `sane non est neglegenter praetereundum quod dictum est, et vidit deus . . . bona valde. . . . si enim singula opera dei cum considerantur a prudentibus, inveniuntur habere laudabiles mensuras  et numeros  et ordines [3: see on 5.4.7] in suo quaeque genere constituta; quanto magis omnia simul, id est ipsa universitas quae istis singulis in unum conlectis impletur? omnis enim pulchritudo quae partibus constat multo est laudabilior in toto quam in parte.' See further on 13.28.43, `nam singula . . . bona et valde'.
text of 7.13.19
By contrast to 7.12.18, and reverberating with the scriptural chime rung in the last line there, the context is now made as scriptural as possible. We are shown how A. now thinks he should have acted at the time; the pretext for the extensive citation of Ps. 148 (text given following notes on this paragraph) is surely in Ps. 148.14 (not quoted by A. here), `confessio eius in terra et caelo'.
ordinem: See on 1.7.12, and cf. mor. 2.5.7 quoted on 7.12.18 and en. Ps. 148.9, `omnia ergo ista videtis qualia sunt, mutabilia, turbata, terribilia, corruptibilia; tamen habent locum suum, habent ordinem suum, implent et ipsa universi pulchritudinem pro modo suo, et ideo laudant dominum.'
conveniunt: Evokes the `orderliness' underlying beauty in creation: see on 2.5.10.
non essent ista: Fuller remarks in the same vein are found at lib. arb. 3.9.24.
sed iam etiam . . . deberem: The turn from Plotinus is crucial: not only the scriptural echoes, but the theme of praise (`confessio') itself. See Ps. 148.7-12 (for text see below). The reversal of order of citation from Ps. 148 (putting 7-12 before 1-5) gives the effect of movement from earth to heaven, rather than the reverse (Knauer, 99).
laudandum te ostendunt: This deictic function of created things is seen again at 9.10.25 (Ostia) and at 10.6.9.
ignis, grando, nix, glacies, spiritus tempestatis: Conceived as parts of `terra' : see `quam terram dicimus' here.
quae faciunt verbum tuum: en. Ps. 148.10-11 makes clear that A. takes the pronoun's antecedent as everything from `ignis' to `tempestatis', and that the function of the phrase is to make clear that these natural forces are governed by divine power and not by chance.
laudent (nomen tuum) laudent S Knöll Skut.: laudant DGO Maur. Ver.
de caelis te laudent: Ps. 148.1-5. Ps. 148.6, not cited in this paragraph, is echoed at 12.15.19.
desiderabam . . . pendebam: The imperfects make clear that this describes not an episode but a state of mind.
superiora . . . inferiora: en. Ps. 148.10, `quare hic addidit: quae faciunt verbum eius? multi stulti non valentes contemplari et discernere creaturam locis suis et ordine suo, sub nutu et iussu dei agentem motus suos, visum est illis quia superiora omnia deus gubernat, inferiora vero despicit, abicit, deserit, ut nec curet ista, nec gubernet, nec regat.'
sed meliora omnia: The esthetic argument to explain the presence of evil in a good world may be intellectually satisfying, but creates serious problems of theodicy. Its classic formulation in A. is civ. 11.22, `[aliquibus haereticis] plurima offendunt, sicut ignis aut frigus aut fera bestia aut quid eius modi; nec attendunt quam vel in suis locis naturisque vigeant pulchroque ordine disponantur, quantumque universitati rerum pro suis portionibus decoris tamquam in communem rem publicam conferant vel nobis ipsis, si eis congruenter atque scienter utamur, commoditatis attribuant.' In fairness, A. remained sensitive to the difficulties throughout his life, and to the polemical disadvantage it forced upon him. Here (7.16.22), he insists `et iustitia tua displicet iniquis,' and thirty years later, at c. Iul. imp. 2.22, he doggedly persists in the theodicy to which his philosophy led him: `catholica illa [expositio] est, quae ostendit iustum deum in tot ac tantis poenis et cruciatibus parvulorum'.
Text of Ps. 148 from en. Ps. 1
(1) alleluia. laudate dominum de caelis; laudate eum in excelsis. (2) laudate eum omnes angeli eius; laudate eum omnes virtutes eius. (3) laudate eum sol et luna; laudate eum omnes stellae et lumen. (4) laudate eum caeli caelorum; et aquae quae super caelos sunt, (5) laudent nomen domini. quoniam ipse dixit, et facta sunt; ipse mandavit et creata sunt. (6) statuit ea in saeculum et in saeculum saeculi; praeceptum posuit et non praeteribit. (7) laudate dominum de terra, dracones et omnes abyssi, (8) ignis, grando, nix, glacies, spiritus tempestatis, quae faciunt verbum eius, (9) montes et omnes colles, ligna fructifera et omnes cedri, (10) bestiae et omnia pecora, reptilia et volatilia pennata. (11) reges terrae et omnes populi, principes et omnes iudices terrae, (12) iuvenes et virgines, seniores cum iunioribus, laudent nomen domini. (13) quia exaltatum est nomen eius solius. (14) confessio eius in terra et caelo; et exaltabit cornu populi sui. hymnus omnibus sanctis suis; filiis Israhel, populo appropinquanti sibi! alleluia.
text of 7.14.20
This paragraph contains elements of a review of the development of A.'s views: `et quia non . . .', his Manichean phase; `inde rediens . . .', following his break with Manicheism, the view of God as an all-pervasive corporeal being (7.1.1-7.5.7); `sed posteaquam . . .', the clarity of vision (n.b. `vidi' and see on 7.10.16) that came in the wake of the platonicorum libri. For a study of Bk. 7 centering on this passage, see E. Feldmann, Augustiana [= Festschrift Van Bavel] 41(1991), 881-904.
non est sanitas: Ps. 37.4, `non est sanitas in carne mea a vultu irae tuae'; cf. `iudicio saniore' in the last line, and here, `consopita est insania mea'; sanitas of a sort has been achieved (cf. the medical metaphor in `collyrio' [7.8.12]).
nolebat esse tuum: These lines show how close Manichean and neo-Platonic views are to each other. Both are explanations of the presence of evil in the world designed in the first instance to protect the innocence of God. Their proximity is one explanation for the appeal of the latter to A., after years of being steeped in the former.
aliena: cf. Ps. 18.14, `ab occultis meis munda me, domine, et ab alienis parce servo tuo'; en. Ps. 18. en. 2.13 (paraphrasing the verse), `tolle mihi ex corde malam cogitationem, repelle a me malum suasorem; . . . diabolus suo delicto cecidit, Adam alieno deiecit.'
per infinita spatia: His pre-neo-Platonic view (7.1.1-2), abandoned at 7.10.16 (`numquid nihil est veritas, quoniam neque per finita neque per infinita locorum spatia diffusa est?').
conlocaverat in corde suo: Cf. Ezech. 14.7, `quia homo . . . si alienatus fuerit a me, et posuerit idola sua in corde suo, et scandalum iniquitatis suae statuerit contra faciem suam, et venerit ad prophetam ut interroget per eum me, ego dominus respondebo ei.'
facta erat: sc. `anima mea' (from above). 2 Cor. 6.16, `qui autem consensus templo dei cum idolis? vos enim estis templum dei vivi.'
fovisti caput nescientis: R. J. O'Connell has made much of these words: REAug 9(1963), 30-37, and Thought 48(1983), 188-206.
clausisti oculos meos: Ps. 118.37, `averte oculos meos, ne videant vanitatem'; en. Ps. 118. s. 12.1, `numquid quamdiu sumus in hoc mundo, possumus non videre vanitatem? . . . ergo in spe, qua speramus nos adhaesuros contemplandae veritati, subiecti sumus interim vanitati.' See on 7.1.1 for the link between vanitas and curiositas, and the way the destruction of both runs through Bk. 7.
cessavi de me paululum: Pressed literally (as BA trans.: `j'ai perdu conscience un instant'), this phrase may imply some mystic swoon; but a metaphorical reading is preferable in view of the non-narrative nature of the context, and in view of the answering phrase, `et evigilavi in te'.
text of 7.15.21
respexi: Cf. 7.11.17, `inspexi'.
alia: i.e., `quae non sunt deus' (cf. end of 7.14.20).
vidi . . . vidi: See on 7.10.16.
non quasi in loco: This is the denial of the `sponge' metaphor (7.5.7) that arose from a corporeal view of God.
omnitenens: 11.13.15, `deum omnipotentem et omnicreantem et omnitenentem'; cf. Io. ev. tr. 106.5, `sicut pater aeternus omnipotens, ita filius coaeternus omnipotens; et si omnipotens, utique omnitenens. id enim potius verbum e verbo interpretamur, si proprie volumus dicere, quod a graecis dicitur pantokrator: quod nostri non sic interpretarentur ut omnipotens dicerent, cum sit pantokrator omnitenens, nisi tantundem valere sentirent.' (Latin biblical translation preferred omnipotens for pantokra/twr, as at Apoc. 1.8.)
manu veritate: BA: `dans la main par la vérité', i.e., `per Christum'. But of course if Christ is the manus dei (see on 11.2.4 and cf. en. Ps. 143.14, `ipse salvator corporis, manus dei'; Knauer 121n4), `veritate' may be in apposition. De Marchi 312-313 needlessly emends to veritatem.
et omnia vera sunt: sol. 2.5.8, `verum mihi videtur esse id quod est'; at sol. 2.6.10, the false is `quod non ita est ut videtur.'
et vidi quia: The doctrine denied by these lines is Manichean: see on 11.10.12, and Bk. 11 generally for the eternity of God (and his power over the flow of time) as an essential counterpart for the Christian A. of his immutability. Here he seems to be suggesting (what is similarly implicit at 7.10.16) that his new view of God dating from this period includes the notion of his eternity.
text of 7.16.22
Apart from the doctrinal substance of the view here of matter and evil, the form of the argument marks a characteristic feature of all A.'s later thought. The fault is no longer thought to be in the world that he contemplates but in the eye with which he contemplates it. This view was implicit in his interpretation of earlier stages of his development (esp. 7.8.12, `collyrio', 7.10.16, `et nondum me esse qui viderem' --cf. 7.17.23, `sed nondum me esse'), but this is the moment at which he first shows this view as affecting his philosophical and doctrinal positions. His inability to see the complete logical coherence of an argument is no longer in itself a reason not to accept the argument. This is a conversion in some ways--he does not after all change the essentials of his view of the world (snakes and worms are still repugnant to him); but he changes his view about his own view of the world, and that is not a small thing. (Cf. Bk. 6, where he repeatedly states that he did not change his own view, merely discovered that the catholic church's view, to his surprise, coincided with his own.)
apta . . . apti: See on 4.13.20 (on the de pulchro et apto).
detortae in infima voluntatis perversitatem: 2.3.6, `perversae atque inclinatae in ima voluntatis suae'.
voluntatis perversitatem: He now accepts in mind what he had `heard' --from Ambrose's sermons (7.3.5, `audiebam')--that free will is the source of evil.
proicientis intima sua: Sirach 10.9-10, `quid superbit terra et cinis? (10) nihil est iniquius quam amare pecuniam; hic enim et animam suam venalem habet, quoniam in vita sua proiecit intima sua.' mus. 6.13.40, `quare superbia intumescere, hoc illi est in extima progredi, et ut ita dicam, inanescere, quod est minus minusque esse. progredi autem in extima, quid est aliud quam intima proicere; id est, longe a se facere deum, non locorum spatio, sed mentis affectu?' en. Ps. 1.4, `hanc terram ad interiorem hominem pertinere, et inde superbia hominem proici, maxime intellegi potest in eo quod scriptum est, quid superbit terra et cinis? quoniam in vita sua proiecit intima sua. unde enim proiectus est non absurde se dicitur proiecisse.' Sim. at Gn. c. man. 2.5.6. Is there a Porphyrian citation here? Unlikely, but there has been discussion: see du Roy 84n3.
intima . . . foras: For intus/foris, see on 10.27.38.
text of 7.17.23
Here A. accomplishes his Plotinian ascent. Years later, he expressed the thought (common among the Platonists themselves) that a more enduring vision might be possible. en. Ps. 134.6, `tendebatis enim vos fortassis videre bonum omnium bonorum, bonum a quo sunt omnia bona, bonum sine quo nihil est bonum, et bonum quod sine ceteris bonum est; tendebatis vos ut videretis, et forte in extendenda acie mentis vestrae deficiebatis. hoc enim ex me conicio; sic patior. sed etsi est aliquis, sicut fieri potest--et valde potest--acie mentis fortior me, et contuitum cordis sui diu figit in eo quod est; laudet ille ut potest et quomodo nos non possumus, laudet.' This text led Courcelle, Les Confessions 47n2, to conclude: `Le diu figit s'oppose directement a conf. 7.17.23, sed aciem figere non evalui.' True so far as it goes, but Courcelle wrongly inferred that the later text implied that the ascent of this paragraph had been somehow unsuccessful. Another late and optimistic (for others) text is ep. 147.13.31; for other texts on the difficulty and impermanence of such vision, see on 7.10.16, `reverberasti'. For A.'s fullest description of the Plotinian ascent, see civ. 9.16, `deum quidem summum omnium creatorem, quem nos verum deum dicimus, sic a Platone praedicari asseverat, quod ipse sit solus qui non possit penuria sermonis humani quavis oratione vel modice comprehendi; vix autem sapientibus viris, cum se vigore animi quantum licuit a corpore removerunt, intellectum huius dei, id quoque interdum velut in altissimis tenebris rapidissimo coruscamine lumen candidum intermicare. si ergo supra omnia vere summus deus intellegibili et ineffabili quadam praesentia, etsi interdum, etsi tamquam rapidissimo coruscamine lumen candidum intermicans, adest tamen sapientium mentibus, cum se quantum licuit a corpore removerunt, nec ab eis contaminari potest.'
Already at Cassiciacum, A. had a Christianized explanation for the defects of this sort of vision: sol. 1.6.13, `[Ratio] aspectus animae ratio est. . . . aspectus rectus atque perfectus, id est quem visio sequitur, virtus vocatur; est enim virtus vel recta vel perfecta ratio. sed et ipse aspectus quamvis iam sanos oculos convertere in lucem non potest, nisi tria illa permaneant: fides, qua credatur ita se rem habere ad quam convertendus aspectus est, ut visa faciat beatum; spes qua cum bene aspexerit, se visurum esse praesumat; caritas, qua videre perfruique desideret.'
Mystical adepts agree that their experience is impossible to describe adequately; one would think that to describe someone else's mystical experience would be a fortiori more difficult, but few ever act that way. We speak of these things with a confidence that glosses over serious epistemological difficulties, and those difficulties are doubled here. If it is difficult for us to know what Plotinus' (or A.'s) experience was like, how was it possible for A. to know what Plotinus was talking about? We are reduced to comparing texts, but texts that are always written and read with reference to an ineffable reality presumably lying beyond them. But even that is rendered more difficult here, since whatever A. was reading had been filtered through the expectations of a third party (a translator) before it came to A. This text permits the conclusion that it was written by someone who thought he was reporting an experience that was congruent to that reported in Plotinus' texts.45
A minority view sees this paragraph only as a further description of the `ascent' of 7.10.16: du Roy 85, `Ce qui pouvait sembler un nouveau récit de "tentative d'extase", n'est donc qu'un rappel de sa situation, tout naturellement amené par le contexte. C'est ainsi que compose Augustin.'
phantasma: See esp. 4.7.12, and see on 3.6.10.
frui: doctr. chr. 1.4.4ff (and see BA 11.558-561).
rapiebar: See on 4.12.18. Again, the initiative is from outside and above.
decore tuo: Cf. 10.27.38, `pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam nova'; 12.15.21, `dilexi decorem tuum'.
pondere meo . . . pondus: See on 13.9.10, `pondus meum amor meus', and on 8.5.10, `consuetudo'.
memoria tui: For memoria as the locus dei in the mind's ascent, see 10.17.26 (and see note at beginning of Bk. 10).
neque ullo modo . . . cohaererem: See on 7.10.16, `ut viderem esse quod viderem, et nondum me esse qui viderem.' The phrasing here is certainly stronger: what has come between makes a difference, specifically 7.11.17, `mihi autem inhaerere deo bonum est'.
corpus quod corrumpitur: Wisd. 9.15, `corpus enim quod corrumpitur aggravat animam et deprimit terrena inhabitatio sensum multa cogitantem.' The verse is cited 119x in A. (La Bonnardière, Biblia Augustiniana: Sagesse 206-221, 289-292), from the whole range of his working life. Juxtaposed with 1 Cor. 15.52ff: c. ep. Parm. 2.14.32, en. Ps. 84.10 (`cohibens ergo aliquantum ab strepitu mundi, et avertens se ad se, et a se in illum cuius vocem audiebat interius; quasi obturans aurem contra tumultuantem vitae huius inquietudinem, et contra animam corpore quod corrumpitur aggravatam, et sensum terrena inhabitatione deprimentem multa cogitantem, ait: audiam quid loquetur in me dominus deus; . . . quoniam loquetur pacem in plebem suam.'), 4.9, 83.9, 127.16, 78.15, ss. 131.7.7, 277.4.4, 299.9, 351.3.3, ep. 143.6, perf. iust. 6.14, ench. 23.91; never with Rom. 1.20ff. The text is not specially favored by other church fathers. A. cites it with explicit reference to the source only three times in all, and only four times in connection with the rest of the passage in which it finds itself. La Bonnardière 210: `La citation de Sap. 9.15 est très souvent accompagnée de la mention du terme pondus [en. Ps. 75.4, 83.9, 102.6, pecc. mer. 1.38.69, Io. ev. tr. 69.2] ou de l'un de ses synonymes, sarcina, onus, gravitas, retinacula, pavimentum.' A. is aware of, and deprecates, a possible Platonizing misreading: civ. 14.3, `aliter se habet fides nostra. nam corruptio corporis, quae adgravat animam, non peccati primi est causa sed poena; nec caro corruptibilis animam peccatricem, sed anima peccatrix fecit esse corruptibilem carnem.'
quod invisiblia tua: Rom. 1.20 (and see below), the `pro-Platonic' verse of that passage; see on 7.9.14.
inveneram . . . commutabilem: lib. arb. 2.12.33-34, `quapropter nullo modo negaveris esse incommutabilem veritatem . . . (34) hanc ergo veritatem . . . in qua tam multa conspicimus excellentiorem putas esse quam mens nostra est . . . ? . . . mentes enim nostrae aliquando eam minus aliquando eam plus vident et ex hoc fatentur se esse mutabiles'.
gradatim . . . aspectus: For the ascent through contemplation of creation (made possible now by an accurate appreciation of the nature of evil, and hence of created being: thus this narrative is most sharply distinguishes from that of 7.10.16), cf. 9.10.25, 10.6.8-10, and 10.17.26. See on 2.6.12 for the extensive discussion from quant. an. 33.70-76 of the ascent by degrees; here it will suffice to observe that the ascent there parallels but does not duplicate that described here. The following list schematizes the present text and gives in brackets references and quotations to quant. an. where those are close and pertinent.
1. [anima vivificans] corpus (quant. an. 33.70)
2. anima per corpus sentiens (quant. an. 33.71)
3. interior vis animae (combined with the next stage here: cf. quant. an. 33.72)
4. ratiocinans potentia animae
5. intellegentia animae
6. ipsum incommutabile (quant. an. 33.75)
7. id quod est (quant. an. 33.76, `in ipsa visione atque contemplatione veritatis, qui septimus atque ultimus animae gradus est')
Most comparable here is Plot. 5.1.11.
gradatim: Cf. 9.10.24, `perambulavimus gradatim cuncta corporalia'.
ad sentientem ad sentientem Knöll Skut. Ver. (with the support of one minor manuscript): adsentientem G Maur.: assentientem D O: sensientem S
interiorem vim: On sensus interior, see lib. arb. 2.3.7-2.4.10, and cf. O'Daly 102-105, arguing for neo-Platonic influence. Cf. 1.20.31, `interiore sensu', see further on 10.6.8, and for the structure underlying the sequence `interiorem vim . . . ratiocinantem . . . iudicandum', see on 10.6.10.
quae se . . . mutabilem: lib. arb. 2.6.14, `et ipsa ratio, cum modo ad verum pervenire nititur modo non nititur et aliquando pervenit aliquando non pervenit, mutabilis profecto esse convincitur.'
abduxit cogitationem a consuetudine: Cf. Cic. Tusc. 1.16.38., quoted at ep. 137.2.5, `miratur hoc46 mens humana et, quia non capit, fortasse nec credit. se ipsam primitus scrutata miretur, se ipsam paululum, si potest, a corpore attollat et ab eis rebus quas solet sentire per corpus, et videat ipsa quid sit quae utitur corpore. sed forte non potest; "magni" quippe "ingenii est," ut ait quidam, "sevocare mentem a sensibus et cogitationem a consuetudine abducere."'
aspergeretur aspergeretur D G O Ver.: aspargeretur S Knöll Skut.
See on 9.10.23, `aspersi', with other texts in which the verb describes the accession of fleeting mystical knowledge; cf. esp. c. acad. 2.2.6, `tunc vero quantulocumque iam lumine asperso tanta se mihi philosophiae facies aperuit, ut non . . . eam demonstrare potuissem.'
incommutabile praeferendum: Sim. at 7.4.6.
id quod est: Cf. the corresponding element in 7.10.16, `et clamasti de longinquo: immo vero ego sum qui sum. [Exod. 3.14]' The difference is that here the factual indicative says that A. not only heard this claim from afar, but arrived at Being itself. See also sol. 2.5.8, quoted on 7.15.21, and Io. ev. tr. 2.2, `ut attingat quomodo potest id quod est'. True being is the decisive argument against the Manichees, as at sol. 1.1.2, `deus universitatis conditor . . . qui paucis ad id quod vere est refugientibus ostendis malum nihil esse.'
in ictu trepidantis aspectus: The scriptural echo is unmarked by Courcelle, who cites instead Plotinus 22.214.171.124, ei)=de de\ oi(=on plhgei=sa--which is no parallel at all. What happened at Milan was not the beatific vision; this was not corruptibility putting on incorruption in any real sense: but as against what is reported at 7.10.16, this is a clear statement of the plenitude of the experience. 1 Cor. 15.50-54, `hoc autem dico, fratres: quia caro et sanguis regnum dei possidere non possunt neque corruptio incorruptelam possidebit. (51) ecce mysterium vobis dico: omnes quidem resurgemus, sed non omnes immutabimur [this verse also at the climax of Ostia: 9.10.25]. (52) in momento, in ictu oculi, in novissima tuba: canet enim tuba, et mortui resurgent incorrupti: et nos immutabimur. (53) oportet enim corruptibile hoc induere incorruptionem: et mortale hoc induere immortalitatem. (54) cum autem mortale hoc induerit immortalitatem tunc fiet sermo qui scriptus est, absorpta est mors in victoria. [Is. 25.8]' For the resurrection as divinization that avoids ascent by stages, see f. et symb. 9.24, `quod ergo per hos gradus fieri posse concedit, ut terra in corpus aethereum convertatur, cur non accedente dei voluntate, qua corpus humanum supera aquas potuit ambulare, celerrime id fieri posse, quemadmodum dictum est: in ictu oculi, sine ullis talibus gradibus credit, sicut fumus plerumque in flammam mira celeritate convertitur?'
A.'s literal sense of the essential phrase is precise: s. 277.11.11, `non invenis aliquid quod huic compares celeritati, quantum attinet ad corporis celeritatem. merito huic celeritati apostolus Paulus facilitatem resurrectionis comparavit, dicens, in ictu oculi. ictus oculi est, non in palpebris claudendis et aperiendis: nam hoc tardius agitur quam videtur. tardius palpebram levas quam dirigis radium. citius radius tuus pervenit ad caelum quam palpebra levata ad supercilium. videtis quid sit ictus oculi: videtis quam facilitatem apostolus resurrectioni corporum dederit.' (The same reading of s. 362.18.20.)
trepidantis: beata v. 4.35, as quoted at 7.10.16.
invisibilia tua: Rom. 1.20 (see on 7.9.14). The indicative is again decisive, corroborated by `certissimus' above, and the repetition of `conspexi' with the phrase at 7.20.26 further confirmation. This echo confirms what `ictu' suggests, by declaring that the vision has been achieved, and imposing upon it a clear Christian interpretation. A. has had the Plotinian vision of God that Rom. 1.20 suggests is possible: it is good, and true, and valid insofar as such things are possible in this life. The inability to fix his vision there is, we know from other texts, the result of his mortality and weakness and sin, but he does not insist on that here (there is no echo of Rom. 1.21ff, the `anti-Platonic' portion of that passage). He means to convey thanksgiving for what he was granted, and indirect (high) praise of Plotinus. The next paragraph turns to the search for strength, and contains within its opening sentence the (Christological) key to the search. It is not that he discovered that the Plotinian method did not work (that is Courcelle's position in essence); he discovered that it did work, and that it was not enough.
aciem figere non evalui: Madec, RA 2(1962), 279, puts this phrase alongside Plotinus 126.96.36.199, a)teni/sas i)/de, which he translates `fixe ton regard et vois' and takes it as evidence of the failure of the `tentative' here. There seems to be a misconstrual through the French translation: a)teni/sas suggests the effort required to direct the gaze in the right direction, not to any attempt to hold the gaze there indefinitely. trin. 15.27.50 (at the end of his last contemplative essay, written perhaps a quarter century after conf., addressing his soul), `quae igitur causa est cur acie fixa ipsam videre non possis nisi utique infirmitas, et quis eam tibi fecit nisi utique iniquitas? quis ergo sanat omnes languores tuos, nisi qui propitius fit omnibus iniquitatibus tuis?'
repercussa: Cf. 7.10.16, `reverberasti', with texts.
amantem memoriam: Cf., but more importantly contrast, 7.10.16, `contremui amore et horrore'. Cf. at the beginning of this paragraph, `iam te amabam . . . sed mecum erat memoria tui.'
text of 7.18.24
Something more is required: see civ. 19.23 (quoted more fully below on 7.19.25), `photinianus haereticus, qui tantummodo hominem non etiam deum noverit Christum, et ideo per eum salvus esse non possit'. He had a rude knowledge early on (1.11.17, and cf. 5.10.20), but neither understood it in a way that facilitated acceptance nor accepted it. We have been prepared for this since 7.9.14, `non ibi legi', but how much of the Christ-centeredness of this and succeeding paragraphs is authentic report of his thoughts of the time and how much is pious revision a decade and more later cannot be conclusively defined. Here readers will differ, but there is nothing to suggest that he came to this position expressis verbis at any time before writing conf. What happened in 386 was thus something like this: first reading the platonicorum libri, then a period of enthusiasm at his discoveries, then disillusionment that his discoveries had not brought him to the goal he had sought, then anxious deliberation (culminating in the garden scene) of a moral and sacramental nature over the question whether he should present himself for baptism. In retrospect, and as a theological interpretation, he sees that what was lacking to him after reading the platonicorum libri was the incarnate Christ; he recalls that it was Paul he read, and Simplicianus and others with whom he spoke, and he interprets the whole movement from there until his baptism as the addition of Christ (now accurately perceived) to his beliefs and to his life. In favor of this reading, the incarnation had been part of his thoughts at Cassiciacum. When A. actually acquired a correct doctrine is open to discussion (see on 8.12.30), but incarnation is already central to the very Platonic conclusion to c. acad. (J. J. O'Meara, Dominican Stud. 3, 339, goes so far as to way that the `whole book [c. acad..] centres around this acceptance of the Incarnation'), reporting views only a few months later than the time under review here: c. acad. 3.19.42, `non enim est ista huius mundi philosophia, quam sacra nostra meritissime detestantur [cf. 1 Cor. 1.20, 3.19, Col. 2.8], sed alterius intellegibilis, cui animas multiformibus erroris tenebris caecatas et altissimis a corpore sordibus oblitas numquam ista ratio subtilissima revocaret, nisi summus deus populari quadam clementia divini intellectus auctoritatem usque ad ipsum corpus humanum declinaret atque submitteret, cuius non solum praeceptis sed etiam factis excitatae animae redire in semet ipsas et resipiscere patriam etiam sine disputationum concertatione potuissent.' He is also orthodox on Christology at ord. 1.10.29 and 2.9.27 (see van Bavel 6). For the ascent to God hinging on incarnation see already 4.12.18-4.12.19; doctr. chr. 1.10.10-11, `non enim ad eum, qui ubique praesens est, locis movemur, sed bono studio bonisque moribus. (11) quod non possemus, nisi ipsa sapientia tantae etiam nostrae infirmitati congruere dignaretur et vivendi nobis praeberet exemplum non aliter quam in homine'; sim. at length at Io. ev. tr. 2.2; for incarnation as the antidote for Platonic (specifically Porphyrian) views, see civ. 10.28-9, `hunc [sc. paternum intellectum] autem Christum esse non credis; contemnis enim eum propter corpus ex femina acceptum et propter crucis opprobrium. . . . (29) sed incarnationem incommutabilis filii dei qua salvamur, ut ad illa quae credimus vel ex quantulacumque parte intellegimus venire possimus, non vultis agnoscere. itaque videtis utcumque, etsi de longinquo [see on 7.21.27], etsi acie caligante, patriam in qua manendum est, sed viam qua eundum est non tenetis.' The incarnation is also the instrument to a successful ascent at spir. et litt. 24.41.
One early text holding that a correct doctrine of the incarnation is linked to sacramental initiation is ep. 11.2 (388/91, to Nebridius): `accipe igitur quid mihi videatur de susceptione hominis mystica quam propter salutem nostram factam esse religio, qua imbuti sumus, credendum cognoscendumque commendat. quam quaestionem non facillimam omnium elegi, cui potissimum responderem . . . ex quo videtur esse consequens, ut hominem trinitas tota susceperit; . . . cur ergo in mysteriis et sacris nostris hominis susceptio filio tributa celebratur? haec est plenissima quaestio ita difficilis et de re tam magna ut nec sententia hic satis expedita nec eius probatio satis secura esse possit.'
The presentation of this difficulty helps us measure for the intensity of A.'s contact with Ambrose and his ideas. The perplexities A. describes here could perfectly well have been clarified (at least insofar as discovering the orthodox doctrine would have offered clarification) had A. and Al. read Ambrose's de fide of 378/80 (where, e.g., Photinus is expressly anathematized at, e.g., de fide 1.1.6, 1.8.57, 2.13.117, etc.); but Amb. spoke at other times of Photinus, if not always in great detail, e.g., exam. 3.7.32--itself probably too late in date to be relevant here, but a good example of the kind of incidental mention A. could have encountered at almost any time; cf. also de paradiso (377) 12.58, using a triad of heretics (Arius, Sabellius, and Photinus) that often recurs in A.47
Theological discussion of A.'s Christology continues, with occasional incidental benefits for the study of particular texts; van Bavel is most useful, but cf. W. Geerlings, Christus Exemplum (Mainz, 1978)--for Christ as exemplum,, cf. 7.19.25 (describing his pre-conversion position) with 10.43.68 (view at the time of conf.), and of course B. Studer, RA 19(1984), 133-154. Though Courcelle, Ricerche di stor. rel. 1 (1954), 63-71, deals expressly with the next paragraph, these two paragraphs are inseparable, and the survey he gives at 64ff of scholarly neglect of the passage is equally valid here.
viam: Cf. `via' below, and see on 7.7.11. The unacceptability of this concept to non-Christians: civ. 10.32, `dicit Porphyrius in primo iuxta finem de regressu animae libro nondum receptum in unam quandam sectam quae universalem contineat viam animae liberandae, vel a philosophia verissima aliqua vel ab Indorum moribus ac disciplina, aut inductione Chaldaeorum aut alia qualilbet via'; Maximus of Madauros in A., ep. 16.1, `nam deus omnibus religionibus commune nomen est. ita fit ut, dum eius quasi quaedam membra carptim variis supplicationibus prosequimur, totum colere profecto videamur'; Longinianus in A. ep. 234.2, `via est in deum melior qua vir . . . deorum comitatu vallatus . . . aut a deo aut in deum intentione animi mentisque ire festinat'; and see on 5.13.23, for the echo of Symm.'s rel. 10 at sol. 1.13.23, criticized at retr. 1.4.3.
fruendum: See on 7.17.23, `non stabam frui deo meo'.
mediatorem dei et hominum: 1 Tim. 2.5, `unus enim deus, unus et mediator dei et hominum, homo Christus Iesus.' Incarnation is the means by which the Logos performs this mediatorship: civ. 9.15, `quaerendus est medius, qui non solum homo, verum etiam deus sit . . .; quem neque non fieri mortalem oportebat, neque permanere mortalem'; cf. civ. 10.20, 10.22. civ. 9.17 (quoted above on 7.10.16) specifically prescribes this mediator for one kept apart from God by longinquitas and dissimilitudo. Insofar as A. clings to this doctrine he is really capitulating to some extent to the expectations of the non-Christians, and this is one reason why a doctrine of atonement lacks a strong presence in A. The attention he gives to the notion of `mediator' is generally taken as a sign of reaction to the ideas of Porphyry (J. J. O'Meara, Porphyry's Philosophy from Oracles in Augustine [Paris, 1959] 160-162; approved by Madec, RA 2 279; dissenting, du Roy 97n1). The 1 Tim. text itself is never cited before c. 394/5 (Gal. exp. 24, 63; div. qu. 80.3), but is later frequent in A. (du Roy 89n3). See on 10.43.68 (in a paragraph that echoes Jn. 1 and Phil. 2). See on 10.42.67f.
When does A. `embrace the mediator'? Within the narrative of conf., in the garden scene: see on 8.12.29-30.48
qui est super omnia: Rom. 9.5, `ex quibus Christus secundum carnem, qui est super omnia deus benedictus in saecula'.
ego sum via et veritas et vita: Jn. 14.6: the only ad verbum citation of this thematically central verse in all of conf., reinforcing the importance of this passage.
cibum: See on 7.10.16, `cibus sum grandium'. Eucharist is `the food that I was incapable of taking' --as clear an indication as one could want that A. sees his problem at this moment in his life as arising from his inability to participate in Christian liturgical worship.
cui capiendo: Io. ev. tr. 1.12, `ille cibus est, accipe lac ut nutriaris, ut sis validus ad capiendum cibum.'
miscentem carni: See on 5.10.20, `concerneretur carni'.
quoniam verbum caro factum est: Jn. 1.14: what was missing in the platonicorum libri at 7.9.13 is now the chief desideratum.
lactesceret: See T. van Bavel, Augustiana 7(1957), 255-256. There is a decided progression and recursion in the movement of conf. from the infant seeking milk from his nurses (milk provided them by God, to be sure: 1.6.7) to the mature man now finding milk again in a new infancy, speechless in the presence of the Word. en. Ps. 130.11-12, `dominus ergo noster Iesus Christus panis, se fecit nobis lac, incarnatus et apparens mortalis, ut in eo finiretur mors et non aberraremus a verbo, credentes in carnem quod factum est verbum. hinc crescamus, ipso lacte nutriamur; antequam validi simus ad capiendum verbum, non recedamus a fide lactis nostri. . . . (12) sic enim nos deus vult nutriri lacte, ut non ibi remaneamus; sed crescendo per lac ad solidum cibum perveniamus.' en. Ps. 109.12, `hoc est enim illud lac parvulorum, quod temperavit, panem traiciens per carnem. nam panis ille angelorum . . . factus est homo. ita nobis verbum incarnatum factum est receptibile.' Note the eucharistic language in both passages; see also en. Ps. 8.5, 33. s. 1.6, 117.22, 119.2, s. 117.10.16, and see also on 4.1.1, `sugens lac tuum aut fruens te, cibo qui non corrumpitur'.
per quam creasti omnia: Echoes the doctrine of Jn. 1.3, but for the word `creasti', cf. also Col. 1.16, `omnia per ipsum [Christum] et in ipso creata sunt.'
humilis: A defining characteristic of the incarnation: 1.11.17, `per humilitatem domini dei nostri', 7.9.13, `via humilitatis', 7.9.14, `humilavit se factus oboediens usque ad mortem', 7.20.26, `a fundamento humilitatis, quod est Christus Iesus', 8.2.3, `humilitatem Christi', 8.2.4, `de sacramentis humilitatis verbi tui' (hence 9.6.14, `iam induto humilitate sacramentis tuis congrua', of readiness for baptism), 10.43.68, `ut eius exemplo etiam ipsam discerent humilitatem'.
verbum enim tuum: Here A. begins to describe the ascent of 7.17.23, (`[anima] erexit se ad intellegentiam suam') in terms that assimilate it to Christian doctrine.
aedificavit . . . domum: Prov. 9.1, `sapientia aedificavit sibi domum'; civ. 17.20, `hic certe agnoscimus dei sapientiam, hoc est verbum patri coaeternum, in utero virginali domum sibi aedificasse corpus humanum.' Cf. Gal. exp. 13, s. 225.2, civ. 17.4, conl. Max. 8, c. Max. 2.17.2.
de limo nostro: Cf. Gn. 2.7, `formavit igitur dominus deus hominem de limo terrae.' That form of the text itself is attested by five passages in A. (according to VL): see especially Cypr. de hab. virg. 23 (quoted at doctr. chr. 4.21.47), `portavimus imaginem eius, qui de limo est', and also civ. 13.24, `ut ex hoc limus intellegendus videretur, umore scilicet terraque concretus', Gn. litt. 3.22.34 and 6.11.19, Gn. c. man. 2.7.9, en. Ps. 89.3; and in ordinary discussion of the creation of mankind when not directly quoting the text, limus and pulvis seem almost to alternate (cf. Gn. litt. 6.2.3, `limo', 6.4.6, `pulvere', 6.5.7, `limo', 6.5.8, `limo,' etc., and cf. Gn. litt. 7.5.8, `de limo terrae vel pulvere').
tumorem: See on 7.8.12, `residebat tumor meus'.
progrederentur: Hensellek, Anzeiger Akad. Wien 115(1978), 25, shows that this is almost a technical term, the opposite of the `redire' of 7.10.16: ord. 2.11.30, `quia in istorum sensuum negotia progresso redire in semet ipsum cuique difficile est'; util. cred. 1.1, `qui nimis in haec corporalia progressi atque lapsi'. Also at 13.17.20, 13.21.31.
infirmam divinitatem: Cf. 1 Cor. 1.25, `et quod infirmum est dei fortius est quam homines' (as quoted at en. Ps. 126.5). The daring terminology underlines the importance of kenosis (from Phil. 2: see on 7.9.14) in A.'s Christology; van Bavel, Augustiana 7(1957), 252.
participatione tunicae pelliciae nostrae: B. Aland, Pietas (Festschrift B. Kötting: Münster, 1980), 96: `Dieser Satz ist für die philosophische Vernunft ungeheuerlich und kraß widersinnig. Denn Teilhabe, me/qecis, ist Gründung und Verursachung des jeweils Unteren durch das Obere.' This is the only case in conf. where participation moves downward; see on 7.9.14, `participatione'.
tunicae pelliciae nostrae: Gn. 3.21, `et fecit dominus deus Adae et mulieri eius tunicas pelliceas'; cf. 13.15.16, `quemadmodum pellibus indueris homines cum peccato mortales fierent'. The `tunicae pelliceae' represent mortality (itself the `evidence of sin' --see 1.1.1). The view is consistent from 388/90 (Gn. c. man. 2.21.32, `ad pelliceas tunicas, id est ad huius vitae mortalitatem') to 429/30 (c. Iul. imp. 4.37); cf. between en. Ps. 103. s. 1.8, s. 362.11.11, and trin. 12.11.16. B. Altaner, Historisches Jahrbuch 70(1951) 26-7 (= his Kleine Patristische Schriften [Berlin, 1967], 237) traced this reading to Origen's sixth homily on Leviticus; he was followed by J. Pépin, Aug. Mag. 1.293-306, esp. 301-5; but P. F. Beatrice, in a wide-ranging article on the interpretation of Gn. 3.21 in U. Bianchi, ed., La Tradizione dell'Enkrateia (Rome, 1985), 461-3, thinks that Ambrose is the immediate influence.
text of 7.19.25
For the issues and positions at stake here, see agon. 14.16 - 32.34, contemporary with conf., which consists of a series of paragraphs, each introduced `nec eos audiamus' outlawing various major heresies (but never naming them). For our purposes the relevant texts are: agon. 17.19 (implicitly anti-Platonic), agon. 18.20 (anti-Manichean, rejecting docetism); agon. 19.21 (anti-Apollinarian); agon. 20.22 (probably anti-Photinian), `nec eos audiamus, qui sic dicunt ab illa aeterna sapientia susceptum esse hominem, qui de virgine natus est, quomodo et alii homines ab ea sapientes fiunt qui perfecte sapientes sunt. nesciunt enim proprium illius hominis sacramentum et putant hoc solum eum plus habuisse inter ceteros beatissimos, quod de virgine natus est. quod ipsum si bene considerent, fortassis credant ideo illum hoc praeter ceteros meruisse, quod aliquid proprium praeter ceteros habet etiam ista susceptio. aliud est enim sapientem tantum fieri per sapientiam dei et aliud est ipsam personam sustinere sapientiae dei.'
aliud putabam: Here is the most explicit statement we get of A.'s `Christian Platonism', measured by the defects of his Christology. The view A. recalls to disown includes wholehearted acceptance of the literal truth of gospel narratives about Jesus' deeds. Only in the interpretation of those narratives did he differ from orthodox views (see on `persona veritatis' below). He does not say here how far he was conscious at the time of the gap between himself and orthodoxy, and once again he describes his difficulty as lying mainly in his misunderstanding of the orthodox position, not in his inability to accept that position (`ego autem aliquanto . . .').
A. does not mean by all this merely a lack of precision in the formulation of doctrinal statements. To know the authentic Christ is to `embrace' him, to be renovated by Him, to reach the goal that A. had been pursuing unknowingly all his life. This will happen in Bk. 8. Right doctrine is a necessary condition for right moral conduct and acquisition of salvation. (See civ. 19.23, quoted below on `a Photini falsitate'.) Here it is impossible to read conf. dispassionately; to attempt to do so runs the risk of making a doctrinal quibble of the whole matter, when there is no doubt that A. was trying to show, in the language of doctrinal quibbles--that is to say, the only language he had--the traces of a deep and moving experience.
quantum de excellentis sapientiae viro: The sum of his objection to the doctrine of incarnation is expressed at 5.10.20. BA 13.693, following Courcelle Ricerche di stor. rel. 1(1954), 67ff, sees in Christ the man of excellent wisdom an echo of Porphyry's Philosophy from Oracles. Cf. cons. ev. 1.7.11, `cur ipse dominus nihil scripserit . . . hoc enim dicunt illi vel maxime pagani, qui dominum ipsum Iesum Christum culpare aut blasphemare non audent eique tribuunt excellentissimam sapientiam, sed tamen tamquam homini . . . honorandum enim tamquam sapientissimum virum putant, colendum autem tamquam deum negant' (sim. at Io. ev. tr. 100.3, attributing the view to `pagani', and agon. 20.22, quoted above); cf. retr. 2.16, on cons. ev., `quorum primus liber adversus illos conscriptus est qui tamquam maxime sapientem Christum vel honorant vel honorare se fingunt'. He does not here cite the further position mentioned in retr., namely that it was error by the writers of the gospels that led them to attribute divinity to Jesus, but that theory is certainly compatible with A.'s `Photinianism' of the time.
Two cultured contemplators of Christianity come into view in A.'s letters, taking analogous positions. Longinianus (date of these letters uncertain, but just perhaps roughly contemporary with conf.: see Mandouze, Pros. chr., and PLRE 2, both s. v.) writes in his own voice: ep. 233., `quaero etiam quid de Christo sentias; quod enim eum non parvi pendas, adverti, sed utrum ea sola via quae ab illo demonstrata est ad vitam beatam perveniri posse existimes et aliqua ex causa non eam neglegas ire, sed differas, an et aliam vel alias ad tam opimam et prae omnibus appetendam possessionem vias esse arbitreris et aliquam earum iam te ingredi credas, nosse cupio non, ut opinor, impudenter.' At ep. 234.1-3, he goes on in the same vein, using the adjective paganus of himself, which is unusual. Is Longinianus perhaps a ringer? already half- or more than half-converted? If A. had designed and constructed an adversary from a store-bought straw-man kit, he could not have done better. He certainly looks very like the A. that Alfaric thought he had found in the period 386-391 (though L. and A. both allude to non-Christian ritual, perhaps theurgy, an extreme of non-Christianity A. never reached), the sort of man who could easily never quite convert but could well (see evidence in Mandouze, Pros. chr., and PLRE) go on happily building baptisteries for the church. A.'s response to L. leaps to the importance of sacramental initiation: ep. 235.2, `itaque hic nodus est disputationis nostrae, quo soluto consequentia videbimus: vivatne homo bene ut sacris purgetur, an sacris purgetur ut bene vivat, an ipse quantuscumque bene vivendi in homine modus nondum sit idoneus ad beatam vitam, quae ex deo capitur, nisi accedant adiumenta sacrorum, an bene vivendi quaedam velut portio sit etiam sacra percipere, ut scilicet non aliud sit bene vivere aliud sacrate vivere, sed bene vivendi terminis etiam sacrata vita claudatur.'
Of much less interest are the objections of Volusianus, by V. himself in ep. 135.2 (how God could be contained in a woman's body, or in a little baby, and how God could spend all that time away from heaven), and indirectly reported by Marcellinus in ep. 136.1 (Jesus' wonder-working was not so special, considering the deeds of such as Apollonius of Tyana and Apuleius). V.'s and M.'s role in evoking civ. from A. has given these letters, however, a greater celebrity than those to and from Longinianus.
natus ex virgine: Jn. 1.14 (see on 7.9.13). This seems to rule out (so BA 13.693-698) the possibility that A.'s view here closely follows that of Porphyry, who rejected virgin birth (civ. 10.29). Courcelle, Ricerche di stor. rel. 1(1954), 64n1 instances ep. 147.7.19, `non quidem amisit occasionem Ambrosius ut hinc quosdam haereticos redargueret, id est photinianos, qui principium filio dei ex utero virginis tribuunt nec volunt credere quod et antea fuerit,' to show that the phrase is here a rejection of the Photinians. But Courcelle insisted that this passage shows that the Philosophy from Oracles of Porphyry was one of the platonicorum libri that A. had read, though the argument seems common enough to require no single source.
exemplum: BA 13.695: The phrase may apply either to virgin birth or to the phrases to follow (this seems preferable, as Courcelle saw, Ricerche di stor. rel. 1, 64n1). See, e.g., c. acad. 3.19.42, quoted above on 7.18.24, related to the development of A.'s ideas in 386/7 on reason and auctoritas. Ideally, reason and philosophy should suffice, but in practice incarnation and revelation are necessary.
sacramenti: See on 1.11.17, and cf. agon. 20.22 (quoted above) and s. 214.6 (widely but not unanimously held to be early ) showing an orthodox Christology; texts cited there include Jn. 1.1, Jn. 1.14, Phil. 2.6-7.
manducavit . . . sermocinatus est: All these examples could be documented from the gospels (see below), but they are examples rather than specific references.
manducavit: Mt. 11.19, `venit filius hominis manducans et bibens'.
dormivit, ambulavit: Mt. 9.24, `et ecce motus magnus factus est in mari ita ut naviculus operiretur fluctibus, ipse vero dormiebat'; Jn. 6.19, `cum remigassent ergo stadia quasi viginti quinque aut triginta vident Iesum ambulantem super mare.'
exhilaratus: the word is not in the Vg.
contristatus: Mk. 3.5, `et circumspiciens eos cum ira contristatus super caecitate cordis eorum.'
sermocinatus: the word is not in the NT, but the idea is of course ubiquitous (and sermo is common).
quam ego iam noveram: See 7.9.13.
etenim nunc movere: The distribution of functions in this sentence suggests that A. is employing three categories: action, passion, and (as a separate function!) signification.
quae si falsa: The authority of scripture itself becomes an argument in favor of the truth of its contents.
totum hominem: BA 13.695-696, `l'homme tout entier: chair, âme, esprit.' s. 237.4.4, `totum redemit qui totum creavit, totum suscepit, totum liberavit verbum. ibi mens hominis et intellectus, ibi anima vivificans carnem, ibi caro vera et integra; peccatum solum non ibi'; f. et symb. 4.8, `ut totum hominem suscipere dignaretur in utero virginis'; civ. 10.27, `propterea quippe totum hominem sine peccato ille suscepit, ut totum quod constat homo a peccatorum peste sanaret.'
persona veritatis: where veritas must = verbum. The word persona here means `role, personage' (BA 13.697), first used thus at Gal. exp. 27, `omnes fiunt filii; non natura, sicut unicus filius, qui etiam sapientia dei est; neque praepotentia et singularitate susceptionis ad habendam naturaliter et agendam personam sapientiae, sicut ipse mediator unum cum ipsa suscipiente sapientia sine interpositione alicuius mediatoris effectus'; the word in its fuller theological sense appears only later (list of passages at BA 13.697; see also van Bavel 13-14).
Alypius autem: A. now describes the misconceptions he and Alypius had concerning catholic doctrine; Alypius ascribed to the catholics views that were actually Apollinarian and objected to that view, while A. thought the Catholic view identical with Photinianism, and found that view acceptable. A.'s own error (and by implication Alypius's) has already been stated at the beginning of the paragraph; Alypius's misreading is diametrically opposite to A.'s; Nebridius erred by way of docetism (9.3.6: he thus remained closest to Manicheism). There has been confusion on the interpretation of this passage (see Courcelle and O'Connell cited below), but the gist of the paragraph is that A. and Alypius were themselves confused, both in their own thinking and in their understanding of what the catholic church taught. The rectification of those misunderstandings is attested by div. qu. 80., `adversus apollinaristas' (quoted below), though such an essay does not so much refute the heretics as make the catholic position distinct.
du Roy 92n1 identifies a tendency A. had to trichotomize Christological error: the three sects that define for him the possibilities of error are Manicheism, Photinianism, and Apollinarism--all three schematically together at agon. 17.19 - 22.24,49 Io. ev. tr. 47.9 (`instruximus etiam, quantum meministis et meminisse debetis, contra haereticos photinianos, qui solum hominem Christum sine deo esse dixerunt; contra manichaeos, qui solum sine homine deum; ex hac occasione de anima instruamus vos et contra apollinaristas, qui dicunt dominum nostrum Iesum Christum non habuisse animam humanam, id est animam rationalem, animam intellegentem, animam, inquam, in qua distamus a pecore, quod homines sumus'), and persev. 24.67. But the pattern was not exclusively his; they make convenient whipping boys for Ambrose as well, and Ambrosiaster, while making no mention of Apollinarism, attacks the Photinians eight times in his Pauline commentaries, several times in conjunction with the Manichees.
postea . . . aliquanto posterius: Mandouze 509n4 thinks the adverbs are meant to show that the conversions of A. and Alypius were simultaneous, and that `au moment de cette scène fameuse, Augustin est débarrassé de son photinianisme tout autant qu'Alypius l'est de son apollinarisme.' Though the garden scene is indeed the place to look for Augustine's achievement of an orthodox Christology, there are three problems with Mandouze's assertion: (1) the sequence of the phrases and the comparative form of the second make it more likely that Alypius came to his understanding of catholic doctrine first; (2) Alypius was never an Apollinarist (see next note); and (3) it is not so certain as we have always assumed that the garden scene had exactly the same place in the lives of A. and Alypius (see on 9.4.7). du Roy 91n4 conservatively suggests A.'s rectification came no later than Cassiciacum, from the evidence of the dialogues there; for R. J. O'Connell's attempt to postpone the date of A.'s rectification well past Cassiciacum, see Madec's refutation, REAug 16(1970), 106-136.
apollinaristarum: Apollinaris of Laodicea (condemned by synods at Rome in 374 and 380, and by the Council of Constantinople in 381) believed that there was no mens (nou=s) in the visible, earthly Christ: div. qu. 80., `cum quidam haeretici, qui apollinaristae ex Apollinari quodam auctore suo dicti esse perhibentur, assererent dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, in quantum homo fieri dignatus est, non habuisse humanam mentem, . . . delectati sunt quidem ea perversitate, qua ille hominem in deo minuebat.' Cf. haer. 55, Io. ev. tr. 23.6, 47.9, civ. 14.2, en. Ps. 29. en. 2.2-3, 85.4, qu. hept. 3.93, c. s. arrian. 5.5 (`hoc volunt intellegi, quod humanam carnem sine humana anima Christus adsumpserit. quae propria haeresis apollinaristarum est: sed etiam istos, id est, arrianos, in eorum disputationibus, non solum trinitatis diversas esse naturas, sed etiam hoc sentire deprehendimus, quod animam non habeat Christus humanam'--did Alypius' error arise from hearing of catholic Christianity from Arian or Arian-influenced sources in Milan? The link to Arianism is also made at haer. 55), agon. 19.21, s. Den. 5.7, div. qu. 80.1, persev. 24.67, nat. et or. an. 1.18.31, and ep. 140.4.12. At c. Iul. 5.15.55 and c. Iul. imp. 4.47, Julian accuses A. of Apollinarism (another sign of his having read conf.? see on 4.16.28 for other traces); A. responds through c. Iul. imp. 4.47-50. The likeliest vehicle for a clarification of Alypius' views was Amb. incarn. (written 381), 2.11, 6.49-52, clear against the Apollinarists (but making no mention of Photinians; the same treatise, incarn. 2.8 and 4.23, attacks the Manichees on Christological grounds as well); Ambrose attacked Apollinarians elsewhere, e.g., exp. Ps. 39.26. For the clarification that Alypius was not himself Apollinarian, but objected to what he thought was Apollinarian in orthodoxy, see R. J. O'Connell, REAug 13(1967), 209-210; Courcelle Les Conf. 64n2 has a standard, but erroneous view: `il le [dogme catholique de l'Incarnation] méconnaît et n'en pénètre pas le mystère. Au contraire, Alypius, . . . apollinariste sans le savoir, qui s'imagine penser selon la foi catholique' (Courcelle followed by Mandouze: see following note). Apollinaris is a figure of greater importance in the history of Christology than Photinus; the classic study was H. Lietzmann, Apollinaris von Laodicea und seine Schule (Tübingen, 1904); a good recent summary statement is A. Grillmeier, Christ in Christian Tradition (London, 1965), 329-40; the most recent full-length study is E. Mühlenberg, Apollinaris von Laodicea (Göttingen, 1969), on which see C. Kannengiesser, Rech. sc. rel. 54(1971), 27-36; active research continues, e.g., R. Hübner, Die Schrift des Apolinarius von Laodicea gegen Photin (Pseudo-Athanasius, contra Sabellianos) und Basilius von Caesarea (Berlin, 1989). A brief summary of A.'s mature reactions is B. Studer, `Apollinaristae', Aug.-Lex. 1.392-395.
verbum caro factum est: Jn. 1.14.
a Photini falsitate: A. does not say that he was aware of Photinus' doctrines, or in communication with any followers of Photinus; rather his own attempts at understanding Christology had led him to views that he later learned were Photinian. The influence of Platonism (and Porphyry in particular) on the formation of those views is debatable and debated in the wake of Courcelle, Riv. stor. rel. 1(1954) 63-71.
Photinus of Sirmium (deposed as bishop there and exiled in 351, and condemned at various councils after: hence also a recent controversy) doubted the pre-existent Christ and held that the Christ first existed in the virgin's womb (ep. 147.7.19; cf. haer. 45); Io. ev. tr. 26.5, `Photinus dixit: homo solum est Christus, non est et deus. qui sic credit, non pater eum traxit.' Other references at en. Ps. 67.39, 124.5, ss. 37.12.17, 71.3.5, 92.3.3, 182.7.7, 183.1.1, 183.5.8, 244.4, 246.4, 252.4.4, util. ieiun. 9.11, s. Den. 19.12, s. Caill. 2.5.2, s. Mai 95.5, Io. ev. tr. 45.5, 47.9, 96.3, 100.3, epp. 120.3.15, 147.7.19, 185.11.48, persev. 24.67, agon. 20.22 (quoted above), vera rel. 5.9. Note esp. civ. 19.23 (after quoting Porphyrian oracles about Christ, e.g., Hecate saying `viri pietate praestantissimi est illa anima; hanc colunt aliena a se veritate,' and `piissimum igitur virum . . . eum dixit et eius animam, sicut et aliorum piorum, post obitum inmortalitate dignatam et hanc colere christianos ignorantes'): `ita laudant Christum, ut quisquis in eum talem crediderit qualis ab eis praedicatur, christianus verus non sit, sed photinianus haereticus, qui tantummodo hominem, non etiam deum noverit Christum, et ideo per eum salvus esse non possit.' O'Meara, Porphyry's Philosophy from Oracles in Augustine (Paris, 1959), 158-9, assumes that this passage indicates a Porphyrian conscience in A. at the time of his conversion, but at most it reports on A.'s views at the time of writing conf., when he could well have recognized ruefully that he had then achieved a position that was no different from what he had later learned to be Porphyry's. In the present passage A. seems to describe the position as one he had reached in good conscience, thinking it adequately Christian. That would seem to rule out direct contact with unmitigated Porphyrianism. Ambrose opposed Photinians by name in his in Luc. 1.13, 5.4, and 8.13, preached during or shortly after A.'s time in Milan; and attacked them forcefully elsewhere (de fide 1.1.6 [and elsewhere in that work: see above on 7.18.24], de paradiso 12.58, de spir. sanct. 1.16.160 (and elsewhere in that work), apol. David alt. 4.28, epp. 10.12, 48.5, and ob. Theod. 49, `reges adorant, et photiniani divinitatem eius negant! clavum crucis eius diademate suo praeferunt imperatores, et arriani potestatem eius imminuunt!.'
A thought experiment is conducted at bapt. 4.16.23: `constituamus ergo duos aliquos isto modo: unum eorum verbi gratia id sentire de Christo quod Photinus opinatus est et in eius haeresi baptizari extra ecclesiae catholicae communionem, alium vero hoc idem sentire sed in catholica baptizari, existimantem ipsam esse catholicam fidem. istum nondum haereticum dico, nisi manifestata sibi doctrina catholicae fidei resistere maluerit et illud quod tenebat elegerit.' The second hypothetical believer in that case matches what A. himself would have been if he had accepted baptism at Easter 386 while entertaining the views he ascribes to himself here; the possibility that A. gave serious consideration to that step at that time cannot be ruled out (see on 6.13.23, where Monnica looks forward to A.'s marriage confidently as a time when he will be baptized). The thought that he might have been a candidate himself would have made him an attentive listener if Amb.'s exameron were preached during the week preceding Easter that year (that week was a regular holiday from public business: cod. theod. 2.8.19, but for the year cf. on 7.9.13), during the preparation of baptismal candidates. The thought experiment goes on to imagine a third candidate, knowingly Photinian but accepting baptism for worldly gain (that good marriage, that promising career--perhaps a governorship [6.11.19]), and A.'s scrupulous conscience may have been hounding him. The later A. knew that various forces brought candidates before him: s. 132.1.1, `ecce pascha est, da nomen ad baptismum. si non te excitat festivitas, ducat ipsa curiositas, ut scias quid dictum sit, qui manducat carnem meum, et bibit sanguinem meum, in me manet, et ego in illo [Jn. 6.56]' A similar thought experiment occurs at c. ep. Parm. 2.16.35: `quid? si ergo apud eos quispiam baptizatus qui verbi gratia putaverat Christum ex eo esse coepisse, ex quo secundum carnem de virgine Maria natus est, postea veritatis sermone commotus, cum comperisset ipsum esse de quo Iohannes ait, in principio erat verbum et verbum erat apud deum et deus erat verbum, de quo consequenter ait, verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis, fateretur eis errorem suum pristinum atque in eo se fuisse cum baptizaretur sollicitus indicaret, iuberent eum denuo baptizari? numquam utique facerent, sed hominis imperitam simplicitatem, carnali opinione prius pravam, postea veritatis ratione correctam'.
sana doctrina: 1 Tim. 1.10, `et si quid aliud sanae doctrinae adversatur'; 2 Tim. 4.3-4 (echoed at 1.10.16), `erit enim tempus cum sanam doctrinam non sustinebunt, sed ad sua desideria coacervabunt sibi magistros, prurientes auribus, (4) et a veritate quidem auditum avertent, ad fabulas autem convertentur'; Tit. 1.9, `[episcopus] ut potens sit exhortari in doctrina sana'; Tit. 2.1, `tu autem loquere quae decent sanam doctrinam'.
oportuit enim et haereses esse: 1 Cor. 11.19, `nam oportet et haereses esse, ut probati manifesti fiant inter vobis.' `Heresy' is an extraordinary preoccupation when closely examined. A.'s haer., written late in life, lists eighty-eight schools of error, most of them obviously small and localized. Truth is so fragile, so hemmed in by misreadings, that great precautions need be taken. The pluralism that these sects attest is the normal form of religious life in antiquity: it is only the textual, Christian view that holds that these divagations must be reduced to order. The incarnation remains a touchstone of orthodoxy through A.'s career: cf. s. 183.9.13 (416/19), `et si discutiamus omnes haereses, invenimus eas negare Christum in carne venisse.'
infirmos: cf. Rom. 14.1, `infirmum vero in fide recipite' (the verse Alypius takes for himself at 8.12.30).
text of 7.20.26
`Tunc' is the defining word, and the mention of the platonicorum libri the governing fact. We have here certainly not a third `tentative d'extase' nor even exactly a continuation or renewal of what has been discussed since 7.10.16, but rather a recapitulation of what has been narrated in this book. The verbal echoes bind together chapters 9-20 in a single episode without narrative:
`So in those days, when I had read the books of the Platonists, and been admonished by them to seek bodiless truth, and found therein what Rom. 1.20 tells me I should have expected to find, I was still too weak to enjoy you: garriebam plane quasi peritus, to be sure, but had I not gone on to seek Christ, I would have perished. Caritas I needed, but found it not there, nor would I, such is the distinction between praesumptio (at whose dangerous apex I now stood: so close is terrible failure in this search to complete success) and confessio (which is what I learned to do in those days, and what I do now in this book).'
Courcelle's reading (Les Confessions 65) comes close to the truth, but blurs the line between what A. thought and intended at the time and how he later interpreted his thoughts and deeds. He thought he was on the straight path to orthodox Christian truth; it is only in retrospect that he saw that he was not. He did not think he had become a Plotinian sage: he thought he had become a Christian sine parietibus (8.2.4). This is confirmed by c. acad. 2.2.5, `putabamus tamen satis nos agere' (there of the time even before reading the platonicorum libri).
admonitus: See on 7.10.16.
incorpoream: A reminder of his undoubted success in the period under review, gaining the ability to imagine God without a material body.
invisiblia tua: Rom. 1.20 (see on 7.9.14, and note how close to 7.17.23 [esp. `conspexi' ], where see notes).
repulsus sensi: A. saw real dangers for himself at this stage: lib. arb. 2.16.43 (partly quoted on 7.10.16), `vae qui derelinquunt te ducem . . . o suavissima lux purgatae mentis sapientia! . . . vae qui se avertunt a lumine tuo et obscuritati suae dulciter inhaerent! tamquam enim dorsum ad te ponentes [Jer. 2.27, echoed at 2.3.6, where the notes show that the phrase is shorthand for `practice paganism' for A.] in carnali opera velut in umbra sua defiguntur et tamen etiam ibi quod eos delectat adhuc habent de circumfulgentia lucis tuae. sed umbra dum amatur languidiorem facit oculum animi et invalidiorem ad perferendum conspectum tuum. propterea magis magisque homo tenebratur, dum sectatur libentius quidquid infirmiorem tolerabilius excipit. ex quo incipit non posse videre quod summe est'.
certus esse te: Here, as in 7.7.11 (therefore, before the platonicorum libri), A. provides a pseudo-creed to sketch the state of his mind. At 7.7.11, he believed God existed and was immutable and cared for humankind and that the way to salvation was in Christ and the scriptures; here the emphasis is on what he has learned in Bk. 7 of the nature of God. N.B.: 7.7.11, `et in Christo . . . viam te posuisse salutis'; here the Christology is stronger; cf. 7.18.24, `viam comparandi roboris'.
semper idem ipse esses: Cf. Ps. 101.28, `tu vero idem ipse es' (en. Ps. 101. s. 2.12 cites Exod. 3.14) and Heb. 1.12, quoting the Psalm; see on 1.6.10 and cf. 4.16.31, 8.3.6, 10.4.6. mor. 2.6.8, `esse enim ad manendum refertur. itaque quod summe et maxime esse dicitur, permanendo in se dicitur.'
alter alter D S Knöll Skut. Ver.: aliter GO Maur.
ex te esse omnia: Rom. 11.36, `quoniam ex ipso, et per ipsum, et in ipso sunt omnia: ipsi gloria in saeculum'.
certus quidem in istis eram: This certitude (anticipated at 7.17.23) responds to and disposes of the hesitations expressed at 5.14.25 (his Academic phase).
garriebam: A verb for indiscreet speech (= non-confession: 6.4.5, `puerili errore et animositate tam multa incerta quasi certa garrisse'), but not always in a bad sense (9.1.1, `et garriebam tibi'). A distinction is suggested in response to Ps. 76.7, `et meditatus sum nocte cum corde meo, garriebam et scrutabar spiritum meum'; en. Ps. 76.9, `ecce est illud garrire. observa iterum, ne deficiat spiritus tuus. non, inquit: non sic garriebam quasi foris; alio modo nunc. quomodo nunc? garriebam et scrutabar spiritum meum. . . . qui garriebat foris, ecce coepit intus garrire securus, ubi solus in silentio cogitat annos aeternos.' Cf. s. 242.4.6 (of the philosophers), `illi garriant, nos credamus'; ep. 101.2, `ipsorum philosophorum garrulae argutiae' (quoted with Rom. 1.21ff). For anti-Platonic contexts, cf. cons. ev. 1.30.46, `isti fragiles contradictiunculas garrientes', trin. 15.12.21, `multa illi philosophi [academici] garrierunt contra sensus', civ. 22.25, `sicut paucissimi garriunt', 22.28, `contra nos isti garriunt', 18.40, `vanissima praesumptione garriunt quidam'. The word is not, however, a sign of anti-Porphyrian Tendenz (as O'Meara, Porphyry's Philosophy from Oracles in Augustine [Paris, 1959], 160, thinks); Porphyry is merely a good example of the kind of person against whom A. uses the word; another target is Faustus (c. Faust. 21.10). Hensellek (Anzeiger Akad. Wien 114, 153 and 120, 79), emphasizes cases where the verb (and adj. garrulus) are less clearly pejorative; but a conspectus of all occurrences of the verb in A. shows a heavy preponderance of pejorative adverbs and objects (adverbial, `tortuosissime', `impie', `contumaciter', `sine ratione', `inaniter', `vanissima praesumptione', `inprudenter'; objects, `ludicrum aliquid', `inania', `fabulosa et falsa', `vana', `pudendam fabulam').
peritus: See on 1.14.23. We must make the effort of imagination to give this line its life. At every stage in his life Augustine had been a busy propagator of his views of the moment; he does not change now. The man who once made converts for Manicheism now goes about buttonholing friend and acquaintance with his great news, his version of Christianity. The remarkable thing about the change that comes over him after the garden scene is that he finally shuts up, chatters only to God, and heads for the hills. The exchange here of one form of multiloquium for another is change, at least.
salvatore nostro: Tit. 1.4, `gratia et pax a deo patre, et Christo Iesu salvatore nostro.'
periturus: If this expression represents anything A. felt at Milan in 386, it is hardly neo-Platonic.
plenus poena mea: This suggests a revival of the fear of death (see on 6.16.26): cf. 2.2.2, `obsurdueram stridore catenae mortalitatis meae, poena superbiae animae meae' (and here 7.18.24, `pelliciae tunicae'); 7.7.11, with its ps.-creed, also ends with a summary of his predicament/punishment--there, blindness.
et non flebam: He learns to weep properly in the garden at Milan (8.12.28, citing Ps. 50.19), and he weeps again at the end of Bk. 9 (see on 9.12.29); here he does not yet shed these salutary tears; cf. 7.21.27, `lacrimas confessionis', also citing Ps. 50.19, and see on 3.2.4, esp. for the tears of Cassiciacum.
inflabar scientia: Cf. 1 Cor. 8.1, `scientia inflat, caritas vero aedificat'; en. Ps. 142.5, `illam scientiam comitem caritatis, magistram humilitatis'; 1 Cor. 13.4, `caritas . . . non inflatur'.
fundamento humilitatis: Cf. 1 Cor. 3.11, `fundamentum enim aliud nemo potest ponere praeter id quod positum est, quod est Christus Iesus.' en. Ps. 118. s. 25.3, `nec receptum deserit fundamentum; idque omnibus carnalibus suis, quibus capitur atque succumbit, delectationibus anteponit, . . . ubi si non anteponitur Christus, non illi est fundamentum.' On humilitas and the incarnate Christ, see on 7.18.24.
illi libri: The plain sense here is that he now realizes, and wishes us to think he realized at the time, that the platonicorum libri brought him just the vain and puffed up knowledge that Rom. 1.21ff attacks.
quid interesset: The distinction is already present in Amb. de fide 1.1.4, `in altero enim religiosa confessio est, in altero incauta praesumptio'; cf. en. Ps. 31. en. 2.13, `quoniam tacui, inveteraverunt ossa mea a clamando. si a clamando, quomodo tacuit? tacuit quiddam, non tacuit quiddam; tacuit unde proficeret, non tacuit unde deficeret; tacuit confessionem, clamavit praesumptionem. tacui enim dixit, non sum confessus.'
confessionem: Linked to the incarnation at Io. ev. tr. 14.5, `antequam veniret dominus Iesus, homines gloriabantur de se; venit ille homo ut minueretur hominis gloria et augeretur gloria dei. . . . si sic venit ille ut dimitteret peccata, deus largiatur, homo confiteatur. etenim confessio hominis, humilitas hominis; miseratio dei, altitudo dei [Rom. 11.33].'
inter videntes: s. 160.4, `multi enim viderunt quo, nec viderunt qua: amaverunt celsitudinis patriam, sed ignoraverunt humilitatis viam.'
viam ducentem ad beatificam patriam: civ. 11.2, `per hoc enim mediator per quod et homo; per hoc et via. quoniam si inter eum qui tendit et illud quo tendit via media est, spes est perveniendi; si autem desit, aut ignoretur qua eundum sit, quid prodest nosse quo eundum sit?' See on 7.7.11. The image of the patria has links to the counter-image of the regio dissimilitudinis under Plotinian and Ambrosian influences (see Plot. 1.6.8 and Amb. de Isaac 8.78 quoted on 7.10.16); cf. c. acad. 3.19.42, quoted on 7.18.24, beata v. 1.2, `longeque a sua patria peregrinari audent, . . . dulcissimae patriae'. The link to incarnational theology is clear: cf. doctr. chr. 1.10.11, `cum ergo ipsa sit patria, viam se quoque nobis fecit ad patriam'; increasingly Christianized with time, it appears thus at Io. ep. tr. 7.1: `mundus iste omnibus fidelibus quaerentibus patriam sic est quomodo fuit eremus populo Israhel.' Cf. below, 7.21.27, `videre patriam pacis'; the word is used twice of Jerusalem (10.35.56, 12.16.23) as well. The image makes its appeal to A. in Milan at a time when he is conscious of the distance that separates him from his own patria (he uses the word of Africa that way at 4.4.9, 4.7.12, 6.10.17, 9.11.27, 9.11.28); a similar sensitivity to, and rhetorical exploitation of, a similar dislocation underlies the rhetorical strategy of civ. (as I argued at Aug. Stud. 10, 75-79). For a sense of the word in A.'s lifetime, and a touching document of late Roman patriotism, see ep. 90. (Nectarius of Calama writing to A. c. 408), `quanta sit caritas patriae, quoniam nosti, praetereo. sola est enim quae parentum iure vincat affectum. . . . sed quoniam crescit in dies singulos dilectus et gratia civitatis, quantumque aetas fini proxima est, tantum incolumem ac florentem relinquere patriam cupit'.
beatificam: P. Henry, La vision d'Ostie (Paris, 1938), 115, argues that since the word does not much occur before Augustine, it must therefore be from Plotinus. TLL 2.1794 offers before A. only Apuleius Plat. 1.5, `[deus] beatus et beatificus, optimus, nihil indigens' (cf. conf. 1.4.4, `optime . . . non egens'), but also reports (without further details) citations of the verb beatifico from the `Itala' at Is. 3.12, Gn. 30.13 (from Beuron VL: Hier. qu. Heb. in Gn. 46.8, 46.11), Lk. 1.48, Cant. 6.8, Mal. 3.15. The adjective occurs 19x in A. (earliest lib. arb. 2.15.39, `[veritas] summum bonum et beatificum esse concedo', cf. doctr. chr. 1.29.30, `beatificum bonum' --13x modifying bonum); see 2.5.11, `beatificis', and cf. civ. 9.15 (from his discussion of Apuleius, deo Soc.), `ad illud unum beatificum <bonum> perveniri . . .; beatus et beatificus deus factus particeps humanitatis nostrae.'
non tantum cernendam sed et habitandam: The expression is directed most clearly against curiositas; Christ and the cross may be in the back of his mind (see trin. 4.15.20, quoted below on 7.21.27, `de silvestri cacumine'), and perhaps besides a swipe (an unfair swipe?) at Plotinus (or Porphyry? cf. civ. 10.32).
incidissem: of falling on books at 2.3.5 (of this book) and 8.2.3; of falling among wrong-thinkers at 3.6.10 and 8.1.2; also in beata v. 1.4 and util. cred. 1.2 of his association with the Manichees. The consistent sense is of undirected human activity, in every case but one leading to a bad goal; the one exception (2.3.5) is explained by authorial humility--he does not wish to suggest that it is divine grace that leads others to his book.
text of 7.21.27
Little attention has been paid to one claim Paul had on A.'s attention here. If A. had been seeking authentic vision of the divine following Plotinus' directions, and if he was unsatisfied with the results for whatever reason, Paul is the Christian author with pre-eminent authority to speak of visions, on account of his own vision of heaven--see 2 Cor. 5 and 12. The two chapters are linked by the theme of mystic vision at en. Ps. 103. s. 3.7 and cf. en. Ps. 30. en. 2 s. 1.2, `de hoc mentis excessu, id est ecstasi, Paulus cum loqueretur, seipsum insinuans, ait: sive enim mente excessimus deo, sive temperantes sumus vobis, caritas enim Christi compellit nos. [2 Cor. 5.13] . . . tantus autem fuit ille mentis excessus, ut diceret: sive in corpore, sive extra corpus nescio, deus scit. [2 Cor. 12.2]' On Paul in this role, see also en. Ps. 37.12, 67.36, 77.17, etc.; emphasis is placed on Paul's hearing `ineffabilia verba' (2 Cor. 12.4: see on 9.10.25). Such vision, and nothing neo-Platonic, is what A. seems to have in mind at quant. an. 33.76, `iamvero in ipsa visione atque contemplatione veritatis, qui septimus atque ultimus animae gradus est neque iam gradus, sed quaedam mansio, quo illis gradibus pervenitur, quae sint gaudia, quae perfructio summi et veri boni cuius serenitatis atque aeternitatis adflatus, quid ego dicam? dixerunt haec quantum dicenda esse iudicaverunt magnae quaedam et incomparabiles animae, quas etiam vidisse ac videre ista credimus.' (Ambrose had called attention to Paul's visions in his de Isaac vel anima 4.11 and 4.14, preached while A. was at Milan, in a discussion of visionary philosophical ascents.)
arripui: The same verb of taking of the codex of Paul in the garden at 8.12.29, `arripui, aperui, et legi'; cf. c. acad. 2.2.5, `numquam cessavimus inhiantes in philosophiam. . . . et quoniam nondum aderat ea flamma quae summa nos arreptura erat, illam qua lenta aestuabamus arbitrabamur esse vel maximam. . . . itaque titubans properans haesitans arripio apostolum Paulum. neque enim vere, inquam, isti tanta potuissent vixissentque ita ut eos vixisse manifestum est, si eorum litterae atque rationes huic tanto bono adversarentur. perlegi totum intentissime atque castissime.' Note the echo here of Cic. Tusc. 1.30.73., `itaque dubitans, circumspectans, haesitans, multa adversa reverens': Testard, reviewing Courcelle, Les Confessions, at REAug 10(1964), 26-29.
stilum spiritus tui: du Roy 93n2 quotes U. Riedinger, Münchener Theol. Zschr. 2(1951), 431-434 in support of reading `stilum spiritus tui' in apposition with `Paulum'. In that case `prae ceteris' denotes Paul's rank among the apostles (neither Riedinger nor du Roy can offer a satisfactory parallel for this expression in A.--see below). It is true that A. undertook no systematic study of all scripture at this time, but we do not need to follow Riedinger and du Roy in confining his reading exclusively to Paul, and we can believe that while taking `prae ceteris' in its natural sense, `and especially Paul'. The difficulty of reconciling the two testaments (mentioned a few words further on) is a problem that more naturally arises in looking at the gospels as well as Paul, and in looking at the OT along with the NT.
stilum: Similarly metonymic at 10.1.1, more literal at 12.6.6 (for parallels, see du Roy 93n2), but in any case of the instrument of writing, and not generally of, as conventional translation here, the whole body of scripture. As du Roy observes, from scripture the Cassiciacum dialogues cite only the Gospels and Paul.
et prae ceteris: Hensellek, Sitzungsber. (Akad. Wien) 376(1981), 60-1; cf. 9.3.5, 9.5.13, and also vera rel. 16.31, `discipulo quem prae ceteris diligebat'. (That rank assigned to John, as is conventional, would make the Riedinger/du Roy reading noted above doubly difficult.)
apostolum Paulum: That he was reading Paul at this time is confirmed from c. acad. 2.2.5 (quoted above) and cf. beata v. 1.4, `conlataque cum eis, quantum potui, etiam illorum auctoritate qui divina mysteria tradiderunt'. The role of Paul in his conversion is recalled by c. Sec. 2, `ego enim fateor, timore manichaeos deserui, sed timore illorum verborum quae per apostolum Paulum prolata sunt . . . [quoting 1 Tim. 4.1-4]. quibus verbis etsi alios quoque fortasse haereticos, tamen maxime manichaeos breviter aperteque descripsit.'
Courcelle, Recherches 199n1, attempts to construct a schedule for A.'s reading of Paul. He infers from 8.12.29, `et ignorabam quid sequeretur', that A. had not yet finished reading Romans; but at 8.5.11 he sees the echo of Gal. 5.17 and concludes that A. must have read Galatians a few days before the garden scene; then thinks that 10.43.70, echoing 2 Cor. 5.15, indicates that he read 2 Cor. after the garden scene, though he used 2 Cor. to organize the presentation of Pauline ideas here. Courcelle concludes that `il s'agit en réalité d'une seule et même lecture des épitres de Paul.' But the workings of this book depart from that sort of literal-minded narrative. The first sentence of the present paragraph is a summary, omitting much but in some sense complete, of all the events that will be narrated in impressionistic detail in Bk. 8. There is thus no anachronism in using Paul here, and at the other end, there is no reason to think that A., performing the sortes Paulinae, would have known offhand the verse to follow the verse he came upon, though he may have read (or heard) Romans before. (See note preceding 8.1.1 on how Romans texts appear in Bk. 8.)
Paul is mentioned by name; for the pattern of names of living persons in conf., see on 4.4.7. A. is scarcely less sparing of biblical figures. From the OT he names Abraham, Adam, David, Elias, Esau, Eve, Iacob, Isaac, Isaiah, Moses, and Noah, but from the NT apart from Christ he names only John the Baptist (10.31.46, bracketed with Noah and Elias as models of abstinence from food, and side by side with Esau and David as less praiseworthy types) and Paul, here and at 8.4.9, 13.25.38, 13.26.40.
On Paul in A. see recently P. Fredriksen, Augustine on Romans (Chico, Cal., 1982), and P. Gorday, Principles of Patristic Exegesis: Romans 9-11 in Origen, John Chrysostom, and Augustine (New York and Toronto, 1983). The late fourth century was a great age for reading and debating Paul in the Latin church, and a fuller study of those movements would be most welcome; for now, see A. Souter, The Earliest Latin Commentaries on the Epistles of St. Paul (Oxford, 1927).
adversari sibi: For an example, G-M cite the treatment of Rom. 1.3 and 2 Cor. 5.16 at c. Faust. 11.4, `restat ergo ut nos demonstremus quam possit utrumque verum esse et quam sibi haec duo non sint contraria.' Both the internal inconsistencies of Paul and the difficulties in harmonizing the testaments (see next note) furnished strong arguments for the Manichees.
legis et prophetarum: i.e., the OT (as often in NT, e.g., Mt. 5.17, 7.12, Lk. 16.16); mor. 1.16.26-1.18.34 demonstrates against the Manichees how the concord of the testaments may be understood, setting texts side by side.
eloquiorum castorum: Cf. Ps. 11.7, `eloquia domini, eloquia casta'; en. Ps. 11.7, `casta dicit, sine corruptione simulationis.' See on 1 Cor. 11.19 at the end of 7.19.25; cf. also 13.15.17, `non novi, domine, non novi alia tam casta eloquia, quae sic mihi persuaderent confessionem.'
exultare cum tremore didici: Ps. 2.11, `servite domino in timore, reges qui iudicatis terram, et exultate ei cum tremore' (cf. 10.30.42, `exultans cum tremore'); en. Ps. 2.9, `ne idipsum pergeret in effusionem temeritatis, additum est cum tremore, ut ad cautionem valeret circumspectamque sanctificationis custodiam. . . . et hoc vobis expedit ut . . . domino omnium cum timore serviatis, et exsultetis in beatitudine certissima et sincerissima, cauti et circumspicientes ne ab ea per superbiam decidatis.'
quidquid . . . legeram: The Pauline and other scriptural echoes in the first half of this paragraph depict A. now in a situation whose biblical parallels are all to the OT, to the fallen human condition, believing but awaiting the incarnation and redemption. In this way again, Bk. 8 is prepared to be the place for the `coming of Christ' in conf. See on `miser homo' below.
cum commendatione gratiae tuae: `recommended by divine grace'; `grace' again below (`gratia tua'); so far in A.'s life as narrated, there has been no place for this grace. On turning to Paul, it becomes an issue (as one might have surmised at 7.9.13, in the quotation `resistas superbis, humilibus autem des gratiam').
quid enim habet: 1 Cor. 4.7, `quid autem habes quod non accepisti? si autem accepisti, quid gloriaris quasi non acceperis?' Thematic in A.'s late works, as in in praed. sanct. 5.10, with a hardened position.
qui es semper idem: Cf. Ps. 101.28 (= Heb. 1.12; see on 1.6.10 and 7.20.26).
longinquo: For the distance, see on 1.18.28, and cf. 4.16.30 and 7.10.16. The `viam' is again Christ (7.7.11), and the confidence of the journey toward an invisble goal is a metaphor for faith. Cf. civ. 10.29, quoted on 7.18.24. For the persistence of the image, and its adaptation to incarnational theology, cf. s. 141.1.1 (a sermon devoted to Jn. 14.6, much in the spirit of conf. 7): `veritatem . . . viderunt quidem [huius saeculi philosophi], sed de longinquo; viderunt, sed in errore positi: et idcirco ad eam tam magnam et ineffabilem et beatificam possessionem qua via perveniretur non invenerunt'; Io. ev. tr. 2.3, `ut pervenirent ad id quod videbant de longe, a cruce Christi non recesserunt et humilitatem Christi non contempserunt.'
condelectetur: Rom. 7.22-23, `condelector enim legi dei secundum interiorem hominem; (23) video autem legem aliam in membris meis, repugnantem legi mentis meae et captivantem me sub lege peccati quae est in membris meis.' For extended discussion, see div. qu. Simp. 1.1.14, `hoc autem totum ideo dicitur ut demonstretur homini captivato non esse praesumendum [7.20.26, `inter praesumptionem et confessionem'] de viribus suis. . . . hoc enim restat in ista mortali vita libero arbitrio [7.3.5], non ut impleat homo iustitiam cum voluerit, sed ut se supplici pietate [see on `vultum pietatis' below] convertat ad eum cuius dono eam possit implere.' The same verses are cited again at 8.5.11. There is an unspoken link, made explicit elsewhere, to the defects of the fallen image of God in man: en. Ps. 140.15, `adhuc bellum adversus me gero, nondum sum totus instauratus ad imaginem fabricatoris~ mei; coepi resculpi, et ex ea parte qua reformor displicet mihi quod deforme est.' At this period, A. takes Rom. 7 to speak generically of the Old Man, not of Paul personally, and he only changes his view much later; see M.-F. Berrouard on Rom. 7 in A.'s work at RA 16(1981), 101-196, with much of interest to report on the hints of gradual change (or better, preparation for change) in A.'s works (chiefly seen in ways the text is taken to apply to already-converted Christians), but none of that seems applicable to the echoes in conf.; cf. retr. 1.23.1. Berrouard applies this passage to `l'homme en général' and the two important echoes of Rom. 7 in Bk. 8 (8.5.12 and 8.10.22) to A. personally. That seems to create a distinction where none is necessary, for A.'s own situation is obviously in mind here. (One must realize, however, that A. early on was without any belief in baptism as an instantaneous transformation to moral perfection: mor. 1.35.80, `et illo sacrosancto lavacro inchoatur innovatio novi hominis, ut proficiendo perficiatur, in aliis citius, in aliis tardius.')
Several scholars have remarked that there is nothing in Plotinus to match Romans 7, where the "alien that besets us here" is our own fallen will. Plotinus is beset from outside only, fortunate fellow; purification is the stripping away and elimination of that inside us that has gotten there from outside. Division against himself is division of soul against body, not a lingering division within the soul itself. Plotinus 188.8.131.52-9, a)po\ mh\n dh\ sw/matos i)/sws me\n kai\ toi=s oi(=on to/pois suna/gousan pro\s e(auth/n, pa/ntws mh\n a)paqw=s e)/xousan kai\ ta\s a)nagkai/as tw=n h(donw=n ai)sqh/seis mo/non poioume/nh kai\ i)atreu/seis kai\ a)pallaga\s po/nwn, i(/na mh\ e)noxloi=to. This is the description of the Likeness to which purification will lead; A. here sounds like a man who has read this passage and despairs of achieving the calm it depicts. To him, Paul in Romans has the more compelling description of the state of his soul, and offers help from outside that Plotinus did not have.
iustus es: Dan. 3.27, `quia iustus es in omnibus quae fecisti nobis, et universa opera tua vera, et viae tuae rectae'; sim. at Tob. 3.2, Ps. 118.137, and Jer. 12.1 (in the last passage forming the basis for complaint against apparent injustice).
inique fecimus: Dan. 3.29, `peccavimus enim, et inique egimus recedentes a te et deliquimus in omnibus'; 3 Kings 8.47, `et conversi deprecati te fuerint in captivitate tua, dicentes, peccavimus, inique egimus, impie gessimus.'
gravata est . . . manus tua: Ps. 31.4, `die ac nocte gravata est super me manus tua'; manus dei = Christus (Knauer 121n4: see on 7.15.21). en. Ps. 31. s. 2.14, `quid est, gravata est super me manus tua? magna res, fratres. respicite illam sententiam rectam inter duos, pharisaeum et publicanum. quid dictum est de pharisaeo? quoniam humilatur. quid dictum est de publicano? quoniam exaltatur. . . . ergo ut exaltantem se humilet deus, gravat super illum manum. noluit humilari confessione iniquitatis suae, humilatus est pondere manus dei.'
antiquo peccatori: s. 294.15.15, `non primus peccavit Adam; si primum peccatorem quaeris, diabolum vide'; en. Ps. 39.1, `serpens ergo iste adulter antiquus'.
praeposito mortis: Cf. Heb. 2.14-15, `ut per mortem destrueret eum qui habebat mortis imperium, id est, diabolum, (15) et liberaret eos qui timore mortis [cf. 6.16.26!] per totam vitam obnoxii erant servitui.'
in veritate tua non stetit: Jn. 8.44, `ille homicida erat ex initio et in veritate non stetit, quia non est veritas in eo' --a more impressive text if we mentally substitute `Christus' for `veritas'. The text was problematical for A. because it seemed to imply that the devil was created evil (as the Manichees believed); at civ. 11.13, he is careful both to refute this possibility and, more remarkably, to insist that there is a way to take `ab initio' as referring to the moment of creation of the devil and still avoid falling in with the Manichees.
miser homo: Rom. 7.24, `miser ego homo: quis me liberabit de corpore mortis huius? gratia dei per Iesum Christum dominum nostrum.' Here is the program for Bk. 8 (see above).
in principio viarum tuarum: Prov. 8.22, `dominus creavit me in principio viarum suarum'; f. et symb. 4.6 (also quoting Jn. 1.14 and Phil. 2.6), `viarum enim eius principium caput est ecclesiae, quod est Christus hominem indutus, per quem vivendi exemplum nobis daretur, hoc est via certa qua perveniremus ad deum. non enim redire potuimus nisi humilitate, qui superbia lapsi sumus'. doctr. chr. 1.34.38 (between citations of Jn. 1.14 and Jn. 14.6), `ille quippe qui non solum pervenientibus possessionem, sed etiam viam se voluit praebere venientibus ad principium viarum, voluit carnem adsumere. unde est illud, dominus creavit me in principio viarum suarum, ut inde inciperent, qui vellent venire.'
princeps huius mundi: Jn. 14.30, `venit enim princeps mundi huius, et in me non habet quidquam.'
non invenit quidquam morte dignum: Cf. 9.13.36, `quaerens quid obiciat, et nihil inveniens in illo'; both allude to Pilate's inability to find anything against Jesus (Lk. 23.4, 23.14, 23.22, Jn. 19.4, 19.6). Few passages from the passion narratives find a reflection in conf.
evacuatum est chirographum: Col. 2.14-15, `delens quod adversus nos erat chirographum decreti quod erat contrarium nobis et ipsum tulit de medio affigens illud cruci (15) et expolians principatus.' 9.13.36 puts this verse in a eucharistic context: `cui [sc. altari tuo] nullius diei praetermissione servierat [Monnica], unde sciret dispensari victimam sanctam qua deletum est chirographum quod erat contrarium nobis.' lib. arb. 3.10.31, `iustissime itaque dimittere cogitur [diabolus] credentes in eum quem iniustissime occidit, ut et quod temporaliter moriuntur debitum exsolvant et quod semper vivunt in illo vivant qui pro eis quod non debebat exsolvit'. (See also trin. 4.13.17, 13.14.18, ss. 134.5.6, 263.1.) This vision of atonement and redemption concludes the sketch of fall and rise presented here in biblical terms. For `evacuatum', cf. 10.43.68, `evacuaret mortem'.
hoc illae litterae non habent: Returning to the subject of 7.9.13-14, the defects of the platonicorum libri.
vultum pietatis: The failures of the philosophers in regard to pietas are of course the target of Rom. 1.21ff; cf. ep. 155.4.17, `pietas igitur, id est verus veri dei cultus ad omnia prodest'; s. 91.3.3, `primo amare deum gratis: haec est enim pietas.'
lacrimas confessionis: See on 7.20.26, `non flebam', and see next note.
sacrificium tuum: Ps. 50.19, `sacrificium deo spiritus contribulatus, cor contritum et humilatum deus non spernit'; also at 4.3.4, 5.9.17, and cf. 8.12.28, `flumina oculorum meorum, acceptabile sacrificium tuum .'
sponsam civitatem: Apoc. 21.2, `et ego Iohannes vidit sanctam civitatem Hierusalem novam descendentem de caelo a deo, paratam sicut sponsam ornatam viro suo.'
arram spiritus sancti: 2 Cor. 5.5, `qui autem efficit nos in hoc ipsum, deus, qui dedit nobis pignus spiritus'; 2 Cor. 1.22, `qui et signavit nos, et dedit pignus spiritus in cordibus nostris.' s. 23.8.8-9.9 distinguishes `pignus' from `arra' : the former approximates `security deposit', the latter `down payment', and A. finds the latter more suitable for the way the Spirit is given; sim. at ss. 156.15.16, 378. Also of a groom's gift to his prospective bride, allegorically at Io. ev. tr. 13.13, 13.16, en. Ps. 84.2, 122.5, 127.8, 148.8; interchangeable in practice with pignus of the spirit at Io. ev. tr. 32.5. Cf. Io. ep. tr. 9.11, `securi manebimus in eo, modo per fidem, tunc per speciem, cuius tantas arras habemus donum spiritus sancti.'
poculum pretii nostri: The phrase sounds scriptural, but no parallel presents itself. Eucharistic? Bk. 7 has made clear that the neo-Platonists know much (but not all) about Father and Son: the Spirit has been left aside. See qu. hept. 2.25, quoted on 7.9.13, `non ibi legi'.
nonne deo subdita: Ps. 61.2-3, `nonne deo subiecta erit anima mea? ab ipso enim salutare meum, (3) etenim ipse est deus meus et salutaris meus, susceptor meus, non movebor amplius'; en. Ps. 61.2, `nonne deo subicietur anima mea? audierat enim, qui se exaltat humilabitur; et qui se humilat, exaltabitur. . . . scio sub cuius alarum tegmine sperem: non movebor amplius.'
venite ad me: Mt. 11.28-29, `venite ad me omnes qui laboratis et onerati estis et ego reficiam vos; (29) tollite iugum meum super vos, et discite a me quia mitis sum et humilis corde, et invenietis requiem animabus vestris.' At 7.9.14 the same verse (along with Mt. 11.25: see next note) explains why some things have been concealed from sapientes and revealed to the humiles. Humility is the sign and the lesson of the incarnation (for representative texts, see du Roy 95n2); above all in scripture, Phil. 2.6-11 (see on 7.9.14). The context here justifies the lack of a comma after `discere' (hence the gospel text would be taken `learn from me that I am meek . . .'), though there is also reason to think from citations elsewhere that A. sometimes took the conjunction as causal (`learn from me, for I am meek. . . .'), e.g., Gal. exp. 15, `et ideo dominus non ait: tollite iugum meum et discite a me, quoniam quatriduana de sepulcris cadavera exsuscito atque omnia daemonia de corporibus hominum morbosque depello et cetera huiusmodi, sed tollite, inquit, iugum meum et discite a me quia mitis sum et humilis corde.' The message of these verses is taken as essentially identical with the incarnation in a Christmas sermon, s. 184.1.1.
abscondisti: Mt. 11.25, `quia abscondisti haec a sapientibus et prudentibus et revelasti ea parvulis.' These texts close the circle opened by the reading of the platonicorum libri, displaying the strength and weakness of the doctrines found there.
enim: Answers the various negatives from `non habent illae paginae' : the reason why these things are not in the platonicorum libri is . . .
de silvestri cacumine: The context suggests Deut. 32.49, the command to Moses to go up on Mount Nebo and see, but not reach, the promised land: no verbal echo presents itself. Cf. c. acad. 2.2.5, `prorsus totus in me cursim redibam. respexi tamen, confiteor, quasi de itinere (= `de silvestri cacumine' 50 ) in illam religionem quae pueris nobis insita est et medullitus implicata; verum autem ipsa ad se nescientem rapiebat. itaque titubans properans haesitans arripio apostolum Paulum.' The same image emerges in a strongly Christianized judgment on the possibility of `tentatives d'extase': trin. 4.15.20, `sunt autem quidam qui se putant ad contemplandum deum et inhaerendum deo virtute propria posse purgari, quos ipsa superbia maxime maculat. . . . hinc enim sibi purgationem isti virtute propria pollicentur, quia nonnulli eorum potuerunt aciem mentis ultra omnem creaturam transmittere et lucem incommutabilis veritatis quantulacumque ex parte contingere: quod christianos multos, ex fide interim sola viventes, nondum potuisse derident. sed quid prodest superbienti, et ob hoc erubescenti lignum conscendere, de longinquo prospicere patriam transmarinam? aut quid obest humili de tanto intervallo non eam videre, in illo ligno ad eam venienti quo dedignatur ille portari?' Courcelle, Recherches 225n2, and Mandouze 705n1 both insist that this passage should not be retroactively applied to A. in Milan; Mandouze gives the argument thus: `S'il n'y avait pas le duce te [sol. 2.6.9], on pourrait croire que l'auteur du De Trinitate pense quelque peu au visionnaire de Milan lorsqu'il écrit dans le méme passage . . . "hinc enim purgationem . . . contingere." Mais il y a le duce te, et cela change tout.' The argument is marked by special pleading, the desire to rescue Milan from later criticism. But it seems likelier to treat this passage as a generic criticism of the sort of thing he had himself tried at Milan, and later found inadequate on Christian terms. What we have here is retrospective criticism and distinction of types of visions, not any longer the undiluted frustration of 386. But note how he continues in trin. a few paragraphs further along: trin. 4.17.23, `non sicut deum glorificaverunt aut gratias egerunt . . . [Rom. 1.21ff] et cum idonei non essent in aeternitatem spiritalis incommutabilisque naturae aciem mentis tam constanter infigere, ut in ipsa sapientia creatoris atque rectoris universitatis viderent volumina saeculorum . . . atque ut ibi viderent conversiones . . . ; cum ergo ad haec ibi videnda nullo modo essent idonei, ne ad illud quidem digni habiti sunt, ut eis ista per sanctos angelos nuntiarentur. . . .'
L. F. Pizzolato, REAug 17(1971), 55-57, suggests the relevance of Lucretius 2.7-10:
sed nil dulcius est, bene quam munita tenere The similarity is undeniable, and A. knew Lucretius (see Hagendahl, supplemented by my discussion at RA 15, 161-162).
edita doctrina sapientum templa serena,
despicere unde queas alios passimque videre
errare atque viam palantis quaerere vitae.
et aliud est . . . et aliud: The first lines describe the plight of Plotinus, the last the remedy offered by Christ.
conari: Courcelle, Les Confessions 104-105, takes this of mystical attempts, and adduces 10.42.67, `multi conantes ad te redire neque per se ipsos valentes, sicut audio, temptaverunt haec et inciderunt in desiderium curiosarum visionum et digni habiti sunt inlusionibus'. Used in a similar sense at 3.11.20, 4.7.12, 4.15.26 (`sed ego conabar ad te et repellebar abs te': a strong clue to the importance of the mystical ascent in the discussion of the de pulchro et apto), 4.16.29, 5.10.20, 7.1.1 (2x), 7.3.5.
leone et dracone: Cf. Ps. 90.13, `et conculcabis leonem et draconem'; en. Ps. 90. s. 2.9, `leo aperte saevit; draco occulte insidiatur: utramque vim et potestatem habet diabolus.' See on 9.13.36.
viam . . . munitam: civ. 11.2, `sola est autem adversus omnes errores via munitissima, ut idem ipse sit deus et homo; quo itur, deus; qua itur, homo.' A. Gabillon, Homo Spiritalis (Festschrift L. Verheijen: Würzburg, 1987), 445, also notes Cic. Mil. 7.17, `proinde quasi Appius ille Caecus viam munierit, non qua populus uteretur, sed ubi impune sui posteri latrocinarentur!' The force of `munitam' is to suggest that the road is well constructed. See on 7.7.11 and cf. esp. 3.1.1, `via sine muscipulis': that way he has now to find at last.
minimum apostolorum tuorum: Cf. 1 Cor. 15.9, `ego sum minimus apostolorum.'
consideraveram opera tua et expaveram: Hab. 3.2, `consideravi opera tua, et expavi' : text from en. Ps. 118. s. 27.1: `si vero tamquam sub unius contemplationis aspectu velut audeamus cuncta contueri, nonne fit in nobis quod ait propheta, consideravi opera tua, et expavi? et tamen iste non est ipsa rerum admiratione perterritus, sed eam potius dixit esse causam cur ea debuerit scrutari, quia mira sunt. cum enim dixisset, mirabilia testimonia tua [Ps. 118.129], secutus adiunxit, propter hoc scrutata est ea anima mea.' The tense here suggests that the time for such contemplation was past, that Paul and Christ would take him further. (Cf. 10.40.65, `et consideravi et expavi et nihil eorum discernere potui sine te et nihil eorum te esse inveni.')
expaveram: Bks. 6 and 7 both end with expressions of fear, but by the quality of the fear in each case the difference may be measured. There, fear of death and the void; here, holy fear in the presence of God. There, no path ahead; here, a path requiring the courage to take it. Cf. also the end of Bk. 10, 10.43.70, `conterritus' : there the renewed uncertainty of the present at a fork in the road.
For reservations on du Roy's reading, see below on 7.9.13.
The word is taken from Robert Markus's 1984 Villanova Augustine Lecture: Conversion and Disenchantment in Augustine's Spiritual Career (Villanova, 1989).
Which also applies to the more recent work of M. Colish, The Stoic Tradition (Leiden, 1985). Much authority remains in the discussion of G. Verbeke, L'évolution de la doctrine du pneuma (Paris-Louvain, 1945), esp. 489-508 on A.; Verbeke has a healthy respect for the way A.'s `sources' were mediated to him and for the way his receptivity to them was guided by the data of the scripture texts he had in front of him.
Vg. follows Gk. MSS rejected by modern editors here and reads immortali.
No count is exact, but using different editions and different methods of counting and measuring, the center of the book regularly falls somewhere within ten words of the quotation here of the first words of the gospel of John.
So Nebridius to A. in early 389, ep. 6.1, `[epistulae tuae] mihi Christum, illae Platonem, illae Plotinum sonabunt.'
See note below on the appearance of verbum = lo/gos in A.
This is the importance of Solignac's article on the doxographic tradition: RA 1(1958), 113-148.
See ep. 118.5.33, quoted below, for the importance A. believed theurgy had to Plotinus' circle.
Serious reservations have already been advanced by G. Madec, REAug 17(1971), 119-142 esp. 128ff.
See van Bavel, Recherches sur la christologie.
Not even (apparently) in the libri disciplinarum; years later he makes partial exception, esp. in civ. 8-10, but before ordination he was content to write his own original compositions under their influence--an importantly different practice.
By contrast, the Hortensius, explicitly quoted, stays with him almost all his life.
Our assumption that he read these books in the company of other learned Platonizers (e.g., H. Chadwick, Augustine [Oxford, 1986], 16: `he became drawn into a group of laymen of high education and social standing, who met to read Plotinus and Porphyry') is hard to document. A. was more often autodidact than not (see on 4.16.28, on Aristotle's categ.): it would be like him to wrestle with Plotinus for the most part alone. Note the plangent sense of isolation at sol. 2.14.26. For similar reservations, see G. Madec, Bull. litt. eccl. 88(1987), 194-205, esp. at 198: `Je vois mal Ambroise, l'adversaire décidé de Symmaque dans l'affaire de l'autel de la Victoire, pratiquer le dialogue paisiblement dans un cercle philosophique.'
A similar `if Plato were alive' thought-experiment occurs at Cic. fin. 4.22.61., and cf. civ. 22.27, `singula quaedam dixerunt Plato atque Porphyrius, quae si inter se communicare potuissent, facti essent fortasse christiani', and ep. 118.3.21, `paucis mutatis'.
How far might the view here depend on Ambrose's de philosophia? It would be in line with his speculations about the date of Plato and Plato's indebtedness to Jeremiah, etc. For exegesis of ep. 118. in the context of A.'s Platonism, without reference to Ambrose, see esp. Mandouze 499n2.
The same claim that the philosophers acknowledged the truth of Jn. 1 is at Io. ev. tr. 2.4. The interest of Platonists in Jn. 1.1 is traced suggestively by A. Dyroff, Pisciculi (Festschrift F.J. Dölger: Münster, 1939), 86-93, to Amelius, the student of Plotinus.
A particularly controversial assignment, suggested by Courcelle, Recherches 102, 133, 279-280; the case against best from Madec, Saint Ambroise (Paris, 1974), 72, and Madec, Lectio VI-IX, 51, `il me semble fort improbable que les sermons dont est issu l'Hexameron aient été prêchés au cours d'une semaine sainte aussi agitée que celle de 386 (Voir la description des événements dans J.-R. Palanque, Saint Ambroise et l'Empire Romain, pp. 160-163, qui exploite principalement l'Epistula 20, d'Ambroise à sa soeur Marcellina); deuxièmement, l'influence doctrinale des sermons d'Ambroise a dû se faire sentir bien avant la semaine sainte de 386, tout au long de l'année 385.'
Again controversial and part of the whole debate over the relative influence of Plotinus and Porphyry.
The Maurists read `Platonis' in this passage, but that has since been shown to be a scribal error.
I have argued elsewhere (RA 15 173-175) that cons. ev. as it stands does not date from as early as 400, and suggested stating the date merely as 400-15, advancing the suspicion that the first book, with its lengthy polemic `contra gentiles' may have been retouched later. Pending further study, there is ambiguous partial agreement with this position at Mandouze 304n4 (dating several works including cons. ev. to 404-412; the unpublished thesis to which M. refers there has been inaccessible to me). For the contrary view, see TeSelle, 237-258 (his chapter `The Shadow of Porphyry'), treating cons. ev. as the place where, c. 400, A. felt the shock of discovering that Porphyry had written polemically against Christianity.
See Pellegrino, ed. Possid. (Alba, 1955), 226n14 and cf. Courcelle, REA 46(1944), 205-7. The same expression is echoed at s. Casin. 1.133.7, `doles ergo, et ploras, quia ruerunt ligna et lapides, et quia mortui sunt morituri?'; cf. s. 81.9 and civ. 2.2, 'lapides et ligna'. Those three texts all speak to concerns over the sack of Rome in 410; and the `last words' come from the time of the siege of Hippo. The `quotation' is not to be taken as homage to Plotinus, therefore, but criticism of the sort directed against the anti-Christian polemics attacked in civ.: here, A. is saying, is a non-Christian sage offering good advice; how much more likely, therefore, that a Christian will have hope in time of crisis? (The earlier echoes, moreover, cast at least slight doubt on the historicity of Possidius' attribution of the words to A. on his deathbed.)
A. reads here in conf. `in hunc mundum' and in next phrase `in hoc mundo'.
In conf., the common variant, `natus est'.
Marrou's numbers are best for comparative purposes, since they were gathered using a consistent method. Verwilghen's study, pursuing traces and echoes far more intently, offers a much larger total, e.g., a total of 561 `allusions' to 2.6-7 alone; see Verwilghen 61-96.
It is not marked as such by the most recent editor, W. Hörmann in CSEL 89.
from ss. 67-8.
References after the last word to which they testify.
vera rel. 52.101.
c. Faust. 20.19.
spir. et litt. 12.19.
en. Ps. 57.18.
en. Ps. 105.19
spir. et litt. 12.19.
en. Ps. 57.18.
en. Ps. 113. s. 2.4.
See Verwilghen, op. cit. 69-70, for authorities and for variants in A.'s text over time.
A. would certainly have read this passage of Cicero as an admission of dependence: fin. 5.29.87, `nisi enim id faceret, cur Plato Aegyptum peragravit ut a sacerdotibus barbaris numeros et caelestia acciperet?' Cicero also exemplifies a similar claim of unattested influence, when he suggests that the earliest Romans owed some of their wisdom to the teachings of Pythagoras, of whose activities in southern Italy they surely must have heard: Tusc. 4.1.2-4.2.4.
This throws light on the question of just how accurately A. remembered what he had heard from Ambrose.
See Theiler, P.u.A. 62, reprised in his review of Courcelle, Recherches, at Gnomon 25(1953), 120, holding that the first `tentative' here in 7.10.16 was a success insofar as it brought an answer (reported in the paragraphs to follow) to the question `unde malum', while the second went further. Cf. also TeSelle 35.
Many editions of Plato print po/ntwn in lieu of to/pon there, citing Proclus and Simplicius against all extant Plato manuscripts, making the phrase a `sea of disresemblance' --in the form in which A. has it, then, the phrase is authentically Plotinian just insofar as it is defectively Platonic.
A conflation of 1.6.8 + 1.2.3.
The text of Wisd. is similar to Plotinus 184.108.40.206, me/nei ou)=n e)n e(autw=| swfronou=n, a passage with numerous parallels to the part of lib. arb. just cited; see O'Connell, REAug 9(1963), 22.
For a credible attempt to do justice to the problems of such a discussion, see Sorabji, Time 157-173. E. Hendrikx's protest against imagining A. as a mystic in modern terms, Augustins Verhältnis zur Mystik (Würzburg, 1936), is now somewhat dated but retains considerable value in this regard; his cautions have the value of suggesting one reason why A., fully believing that he had experienced the full Plotinian ascent, would find it disappointing--because by temperament, he was not the sort to achieve, or find settled satisfaction in, such moments. Even with the Ostia description in 9.10.23-25, it is clear that A. neither expects nor aspires to such a moment again, nor does he recommend it to others as normative.
`hoc' represents the doctrine of God that A. has acquired in the course of Bk. 7: ep. 137.2.4, `non sic deus dicitur implere mundum, velut aqua, velut aer, velut ipsa lux, ut minore sui parte minorem mundi impleat partem, et maiore maiorem [cf. 1.2.2, 7.5.7]. novit ubique totus [6.3.4] esse, et nullo contineri loco [7.15.21]; novit venire non recedendo ubi erat, novit abire [7.15.21] non deserendo quo venerat.'
Photinus and Arius appear as twin bogey-men (`immanes feritate lupi') in Prudentius, psychomachia 794-795.
The word mediator itself is a relative novelty in Latin, mainly ecclesiastical (first in Cyprian) and arising out of scriptural passages such as this; it translates mesi/ths, which begins as a legal term for a legal intermediary or arbitrator and appears in a religious context in Philo and NT. In philosophical Gk., the relevant word is meso/ths (e.g., Sallustius, de diis et mundo 16 [ed. Nock, p. 28.31]); hence A.'s lengthy discussion of mediatores in civ. Of surviving texts, A. offers the most abundant evidence for mediator.
That work is contemporary with conf. and the anti-Platonic, anti-Manichean, anti-Apollinarian, and anti-Photinian passages there have many resemblances to the developments in conf.
See Courcelle, Recherches 168-169, but lack of attention to the parallel has left misplaced doubts, recorded and discussed by TeSelle 35n31.
back to text and commentary book 6 only commentary on book 6 only text of book 6
forward to text and commentary for book 8 only commentary on book 8 only text of book 8