Unique among books of conf., Bk. 8 consists almost entirely of a series of specific recalled episodes; the first two (conversations with Simplicianus and Ponticianus) containing embedded narratives of other conversion stories, the third (the garden scene) being A.'s own conversion story.1 The conversation with Simplicianus defines the issues, the conversation with Ponticianus forces the issues to a resolution.
- 8.1.1 - 8.1.2
- 8.2.3 - 8.5.12
- Conversation with Simplicianus
- 8.2.3 - 8.2.5
- Conversion of Marius Victorinus
- Second Introduction
- 8.6.14 - 8.7.18
- Conversation with Ponticianus
- Conversion of the courtiers of Trier
- 8.8.19 - 8.12.30
- A. and Alypius in the garden at Milan
- 8.12.28 - 8.12.30
- Conversion of A. and Alypius
Each of these three central books (7, 8, 9) ends with a sustained, connected passage: 7.9.13-7.21.27 (the platonicorum libri), 8.6.14-8.12.30 (visit of Ponticianus and aftermath), 9.8.17-9.13.37 (Monnica's life and death). Each of these three passages is close in length to the others (variation no more than 10%).
Bk. 8 climaxes with A. and Alypius reading a crucial text from near the end of Romans; true to the program set out at 7.21.27, the whole of Bk. 8 is a record of reading Paul, particularly Romans. The identifiable citations of Rom. in Bk. 8 make a pattern:
The conf. text thus progresses through the central Pauline text, to whose exhortations A. eventually succumbs, just as A. did in 386. See on 6.16.26 for the way a similar progression in reading Cicero underlies these books as well.
- Rom. 1.21-22
- Rom. 4.17
- Rom. 7.16-17
- Rom. 7.22-25
- Rom. 7.17, 20
- Rom. 13.13
- Rom. 14.1
The central issue, `conversion', is presented in terms that were only possible for A. after he reached the positions he expressed in div. qu. Simp. 1.2. To modern readers, the tension between the events as lived and the later interpretation A. imposes is irksome. It is far from clear that A. would have felt our objections, which are no less valid and perplexing for that reason. The reading of this text was perhaps for a long time free of this tension, but it can never be free of it again.
text of 8.1.1
recorder: Cf. Is. 63.7, `miserationum domini recordabor, laudem domini super omnibus quae reddidit nobis dominus'; 2.1.1, `recordari volo' (first words of book).
gratiarum actione: Cf. Rom. 1.21 (text at 7.9.14); the will to give thanks (a eucharistic wish of sorts) marks an advance over the intellectual achievements of Bk. 7 toward a moral and liturgical goal not shared with the Platonists.
confitear . . . super me: Cf. Ps. 32.22, `fiat misericordia tua, domine, super nos, sicut speravimus in te'; cf. Ps. 85.13, `confiteor tibi domine deus meus, in toto corde meo, et glorificabo nomen tuum in aeternum; quoniam misericordia tua magna est super me, et eruisti animam meam ex inferno inferiore'; sim. at 4.16.31, 5.1.1.
perfundantur ossa mea dilectione tua: No scriptural parallel closer than Rom. 5.5, `caritas dei diffusa est in cordibus nostris'; for ossa, see Ps. 34.10 quoted in next note.
domine, quis similis tibi: The same verse marks the beginning of Bks. 5 (5.1.1) and 9 (9.1.1) as well (and see next note): Ps. 34.10, `omnia ossa mea dicent, domine, quis similis tibi?'; en. Ps. 34. s. 1.13, `quis digne de his verbis aliquid dicat? ego puto tantum pronuntianda esse, non exponenda. quid quaeris illud aut illud? . . . et ipsos angelos tu creasti. nihil sunt angeli, nisi videndo te.' The answer that A. implies to the rhetorical question is perhaps not what the Psalmist had in mind. Bearing in mind Gn. 1.26 (13.22.32) and the regio dissimilitudinis (7.10.16), A.'s answer is that every man is similis deo, insofar as the image and likeness is restored by divine grace: that will be demonstrated in Bk. 8.
dirupisti . . . laudis: Ps. 115.17, `o domine, ego servus tuus, ego servus tuus et filius ancillae tuae, dirupisti vincula mea: tibi sacrificabo sacrificium laudis'; for interpretation, see on 9.1.1 (en. Ps. 95.9, `confessio hostia est deo'). This scriptural echo, like Ps. 34.10, recurs in the same words at 9.1.1 (with a shift from the subjunctive sacrificem to the indicative future sacrificabo), thus bracketing the book of conversion stories with these verses.
vincula: For chains (several times in Bk. 8), see on 8.6.13.
benedictus dominus: Cf. e.g., Ps. 71.18-19, `benedictus dominus deus Israhel, qui fecit mirabilia solus, (19) et benedictum nomen gloriae eius in aeternum et in saeculum saeculi'; 2 Chron. 2.12, `benedictus dominus deus Israhel, qui fecit caelum et terram'; Ps. 134.6, `omnia, quaecumque voluit, dominus fecit in caelo et in terra'; Ps. 8.2 (= 8.10), `domine dominus noster, quam admirabile est nomen tuum in aeternum; Ps. 75.2, `notus in Iudaea deus, in Israhel: magnum nomen eius'; Ps. 88.53, benedictus dominus in aeternum'. See Knauer 84-85 on the artistry of the conflation.
inhaeserant: The underlying metaphor explicit at 10.6.8, `percussisti cor meum verbo tuo'.
praecordiis: also at 1.15.24, 9.12.29; the lower part of the chest as the seat of the feelings; infreq. in scripture and in A., but a tantalizing appearance at the end of Wisd. 8.21, whose first words (`cum scirem quia nemo esse potest continens, nisi deus det') are profoundly apposite to Bk. 8; the end of that verse (unquoted by A. anywhere) is `et dixi ex totis praecordiis meis', introducing the prayer of Wisd. 9.1. There may be some connection at a level beyond conscious recollection. Praecordia of a place of sage reflection also at Wisd. 4.14. See S. Katô, Atti-1986 2.131-154 on cor, praecordia, and viscera in conf.
certus: Cf. the programmatic sentence of sol. 2.1.1, `noverim me, noverim te'; half the goal is reached. The trajectory of Bks. 7 and 8 could be plotted by the `certitudes' through which he passes: certus appears at 7.1.1, 7.3.4, 7.3.5, 7.8.12, 7.12.18, 7.17.23 (2x), 7.20.26 (2x), 8.1.1 (2x), 8.2.5, 8.5.10, 8.5.11, 8.5.12, 8.7.17, 8.7.18 (2x).
in aenigmate . . . videram: 1 Cor. 13.12, `videmus nunc per speculum in aenigmate, tunc autem facie ad faciem; nunc cognosco ex parte tunc autem cognoscam sicut et cognitus sum'; en. Ps. 123.2, `tunc autem videbimus facie ad faciem, cum habuerimus corda mundata. beati enim mundo corde, quoniam ipsi deum videbunt. [Mt. 5.8]' Cf. 9.10.25, `nec per aenigma similitudinis'; for a link to knowledge of self and knowledge of God, see 10.1.1.
stabilior: 2.10.18 (last words of the book), `nimis devius ab stabilitate tua in adulescentia et factus sum mihi regio egestatis'; 4.12.18, `[animae] in illo [deo] fixae stabiliuntur'.
et mundandum erat: This one line concisely evokes a series of OT/NT, paschal, sacrificial, and hence eucharistic themes: en. Ps. 39.13 (commenting on Ps. 39.8, `sacrificium et oblationem noluisti'), `sacrificia vero quae ibi fiebant ablata sunt; et quod eis remansit ad signum Cain, iam perfectum est, et nesciunt. agnum occidunt, azyma comedunt: pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus. ecce agnosco agnum occisum, quia immolatus est Christus. quid de azymis? itaque, inquit, diem festum celebremus, non in fermento veteri, neque in fermento malitiae et malignitatis (ostendit quid sit vetus, vetus farina est, acuit), sed in azymis sinceritatis et veritatis. [1 Cor. 5.7-8] in umbra remanserunt, solem gloriae ferre non possunt; iam nos in luce sumus, tenemus corpus Christi, tenemus sanguinem Christi.'
via ipse salvator: Jn. 14.6; see on 7.7.11; cf. `in via tua' (and perhaps `sectandae viae' : see on text below) here. G-M: `the rhythm of the sentence suggests that ipse goes with via rather than with salvator, the gender being adapted to the significance of the metaphor,' with examples from Ambrose's hymns: attractive but unnecessary; perhaps, `and I was pleased with the Way, itself the savior.' (Löfstedt, Symb. Osl. 56, 106 puts commas around `ipse salvator'.)
per eius angustias: Mt. 7.14, `quam angusta porta et arta via quae ducit ad vitam.'
immisisti: A divine act; not incidi, A.'s verb for voluntarily barging into trouble (see on 7.20.26). The idea comes from God (but it is also A.'s): the `both/and' is important, and the practice evokes a Vergilian disjunctive ambiguity (e.g., Aen. 9.211, `rapiat casusve deusve').
in conspectu meo: Ps. 15.8 (also quoted at Act. 2.25), `providebam dominum in conspectu meo semper'; cf. 8.12.28, `in conspectu cordis meae'.
Simplicianum: Born before Ambrose, therefore before 339, bishop of Milan from 397, died c. 400/1, and for years before that theological mentor of Ambrose. Amb. ep. 65.1 (to S.), `cum fidei et adquirendae cognitionis divinae gratia totum orbem peragraveris et cotidianae lectioni nocturnis ac diurnis vicibus omne vitae huius tempus deputaveris, acri praesertim ingenio etiam intellegibilia complectens, utpote qui etiam philosophiae libros, quam a vero sint devii, demonstrare soleas, et plerosque tam inanes esse, ut prius scribentium in suis scriptis sermo quam vita eorum defecerit.' Amb. approved S. as his successor replying three times `senex sed bonus' to the objection that S. was too old (Paulinus, v. Amb. 46). At civ. 10.29, A. calls him `sanctus senex', and in div. qu. Simp. pr. addresses him as `pater Simpliciane' (cf. A. ep. 37.1 to S., `adfectum in me paternum, tuo benignissimo corde non repentinum et novum hausi, sed expertum plane cognitumque repetivi') and speaks of his gratitude; A. was later careful to remember that his reply to S. was the first work of his own episcopacy: retr. 2.1.1, praed. sanct. 4.8, persev. 20.52, 21.55. He was not himself a writer; Gennadius, script. eccl. 36, attributes to him only an epistula propositionum, `in qua interrogando quasi disciturus, docet docuturum'. That approach well characterizes his role in evoking the div. qu. Simp. from A., and we can see him in the same role with Ambrose in Amb. epp. 37 (on Pauline difficulties: cf. div. qu. Simp.2 ), 38 (these probably date from A.'s time at Milan: J.-R. Palanque, Saint Ambroise et l'empire romain [Paris, 1933], 514-515, 579), 65, and 67, all exegetical exercises compiled at S.'s instigation. He was the true center of the `Milan circle', such as it was; he got his Platonism from the best Latin Platonist of the time, Victorinus (see on 8.2.3 below). The de philosophia of Ambrose is likely to be close to what S. would have said himself.
Why go to S.? Mandouze 196 makes the observation that A. wasn't getting anywhere with Ambrose. We must not overstate the closeness of the tie, however: div. qu. Simp. and ep. 37. linked with it are the only known contacts with Milan after A. left; it was from Paulinus of Nola, e.g., that A. sought a copy of Ambrose's de philosophia (ep. 31.8); the arrival of Paulinus of Milan in Hippo years later was a windfall.
This conversation took place while Ambrose was distracted by the Priscillianist controversy, and perhaps absent at Trier (H. Chadwick, Priscillian [Oxford, 1976], 136-7, Palanque, Saint Ambroise et l'empire Romain 516-18).
senuerat: BA 14.531 arbitrarily but plausibly suggests his age was 60+ at the time.
vitae vitae O S Ver.: viae DG Maur. Knöll Skut. (who thought all the MSS read viae).
For the variant, cf. 10.4.6, `comitum vitae/viae meae'.
unde mihi ut proferret: Mt. 13.52, `omnis scriba doctus in regno caelorum similis est homini patri familias qui profert de thesauro suo nova et vetera.'
quis esset aptus  (see on 4.13.20) modus  . . . in via tua .
sic affecto: explained by `aestus meos'; cf. 8.8.19, `me sic affectum'; 7.20.26, `affectus essem'.
ad ambulandum in via tua: Cf. Ps. 127.1, `beati omnes qui timent dominum, qui ambulant in viis eius', using the singular here for Christological effect.
text of 8.1.2
A. chose to see the issue as whether to espouse a continent life. Courcelle attempts to minimize the moral dilemma and keep the focus on the intellectual level: Les Confessions 537 (repeating his position from Recherches 168-70, criticized at BA 13.153): `Il faut croire que, lors de sa première visite à Simplicien, antérieure à la venue de Ponticianus, leur entretien roula seulement sur les néo-platoniciens et sur la conversion de Victorinus, non point sur le problème du choix chrétien entre la vie de mariage et la vie de continence.' A footnote admits that the present paragraph suggests otherwise. The issue as it presented itself was something like, `I think that perhaps I should embrace the life of continence and so make myself ready to take baptism: but I cannot bring myself to do it', and Simplicianus' answer was to show A. a parallel story about a man who did manage to overcome a native disinclination and take baptism. See A. Zumkeller, Aug.-Lex. 1.33-40.
Here again the de philosophia of Ambrose provides the link. It offered the Christian who would learn from the philosophers a challenge to achieve moral distinction equal to the best the philosophers could achieve (on this see prolegomena). Continence is particularly important in anti-Platonic Christianity.3 It obviates, on the Platonists' own admission, the need for theurgy: civ. 10.28 (addressing Porphyry), `confiteris tamen etiam spiritalem animam sine theurgicis artibus et sine teletis, quibus frustra discendis elaborasti, posse continentiae virtute purgari.'
Nowhere in Bk. 8 does A. offer the slightest suggestion that he had any remaining intellectual doubts about Christianity. Continence and baptism came together for him in a single crisis; continence was for him the test of his worthiness for baptism. (Cf. the case of Verecundus, another catechumen at Milan who linked baptism and continence: 9.3.5.) See f. et op. 1.1, `quibusdam videtur indiscrete omnes admittendos esse ad lavacrum regenerationis quae est in Christo Iesu domino nostro, etiamsi malam turpemque vitam facinoribus et flagitiis evidentissimis notam mutare noluerint atque in ea se perseveraturos aperta etiam professione declaraverint. verbi gratia, si quisquam meretrici adhaeret, non ei prius praecipiatur ut ab ea discedat et tunc veniat ad baptismum, sed etiam cum ea manens mansurumque se confitens seu etiam profitens admittatur et baptizetur nec impediatur fieri membrum Christi, etiamsi membrum meretricis esse perstiterit'. The topic runs through f. et op. (cf. the passages on competentes [recalling his own time in that group] at f. et op. 6.8-9); Amb. exp. symb. 1 `hands over' the creed only after assuring himself of the moral worthiness of candidates. Of greater possible prurient interest is the question whether `meretrici' there reflects a harsh later judgment on his own relations with his second concubine (6.15.25); the word might certainly be apt for his view of the relationship. (For parallels, see also s. 212, addressed to baptismal candidates and containing the following texts that have important parts to play in Bks. 7-8: Mt. 13.34 [margarita pretiosa], Rom. 5.5, Phil. 2.6, Jn. 1.1-3, Col. 1.16, Wisd. 9.15. For continence as reformation according to the image and likeness of God, see en. Ps. 83.1, quoted on 13.22.32.)
Milan exercised its influence in favor of continence in various ways. Quite apart from the de philosophia, Ambrose spoke early and often in favor of continence (see Madec, Saint Ambroise 36-37). Almost forty years later, A. recalled an anecdote about a libidinous eunuch he had known there (c. Iul. 6.14.41; cf. Amb. ep. 20.28, Joseph 6.30, on which see Courcelle, Recherches 219n4). The ideal of the Plotinian ascent of the mind, however Christianized, came with a requirement to achieve moral reform as a preliminary (mus. 6.11.33, `ita certis regressibus ab omni lasciviente motu, in quo defectus essentiae est animae, delectatione in rationis numeros restituta ad deum tota vita nostra convertitur, dans corpori numeros sanitatis, non accipiens inde laetitiam'; cf. mus. 6.13.39). Cf. also the undated letter to an old friend (the sort of friend to whom he quotes Lucan, Cicero, Terence and Vergil's fourth ecl.) who had long held out against Christianity: A. rejoices that he has changed his mind, but urges him to take the sacraments (a friend who, in other words, is in the same situation in which Victorinus found himself): ep. 258.5, `quod ut fiat, exhortor gravitatem et prudentiam tuam ut iam etiam fidelium sacramenta percipias; decet enim aetatem et congruit, quantum credo, moribus tuis. . . . iam profecto sic vivis ut sis dignus baptismo salutari remissionem praeteritorum accipere peccatorum.'
The ideal was already fervently held and discussed at Cassiciacum (see on 9.4.7). Important texts are sol. 1.10.17 (`nihil mihi tam fugiendum quam concubitum esse decrevi'), sol. 1.14.25-6 (perhaps the closest we come to a dramatization at that date of the conflict recounted here in Bk. 8), ord. 2.20.52 (`summa opera danda est optimis moribus'), ord. 1.4.10 (Trygetius: `ergo adgrediamur, Licenti, freti pietate cultores, et vestigiis nostris ignem perniciosum fumosarum cupiditatum opprimamus'), c. acad. 2.9.22 (specifically suggesting continence as preparation for baptism: `de vita nostra de moribus de animo res agitur, qui se superaturum inimicitias omnium fallaciarum et veritate comprehensa quasi in regionem suae originis rediens triumphaturum de libidinibus atque ita temperantia velut coniuge accepta regnaturum esse praesumit securior rediturus in caelum'), and beata v. 3.18 (Adeodatus: `ille est vere castus qui deum attendit et ad ipsum solum se tenet').
The issue of continence is easily elided in discussions of A.'s conversion. The account given by Mandouze 83-119 leaves the continence question entirely unmentioned; it occurs finally at Mandouze 176-191, depicting the conversion that occurred in the garden exclusively in a monastic context (evoked with uncharacteristic anachronism). M. can suggest that `monk' comes first, continence second: it is clear from A. that there is no anachronistic `monk-ishness' to be aspired to for itself (e.g., Gregorian chant, cowls, cloisters, rustic tranquility), but continence was a specific issue to be faced as a preliminary to a more abstract state of `perfection' to be espoused.
Special consideration must be given to the place of Manichean ideas and practices in A.'s life. See on 5.7.13, where he suggests that he had hoped to advance (`proficere') in that sect: by becoming an elect? But for that he would have needed continence. Does the Milan conversion finally enact what he had been anticipating for years? Is this the last `Manichean reflex', fortified by Ambrose? As Manichee, he saw the only way forward as perfection and perfect continence; catholic Christianity offers a way to heaven through marriage, so he starts down that path; and as he goes down it, the marvelous conversion of spirit that he had hoped for among the Manichees happens among the catholics. On Manichean continence (with, naturally, critique), see esp. mor. 2.18.65, on the `signaculum sinus', for the way they favored contraception over procreation.4 The Manichees could claim, with some justification, that as far as continentia goes, A. had just not been a very good Manichee (Alfaric 240); A. recognized that the Manichees offered a vivid show of continence to attract followers: mor. 1.1.2, `vitae castae et memorabilis continentiae imaginem praeferunt'; and he grudgingly admitted that they took the issue seriously: util. cred. 1.3, `. . . tenebrosam spem gerens de pulchritudine uxoris, de pompa divitiarum, de inanitate honorum ceterisque noxiis et perniciosis voluptatibus. haec enim omnia, quod te non latet, cum studiose illos audirem cupere et sperare non desistebam. neque hoc eorum doctrinae tribuo; fateor enim et illos sedulo monere, ut ista caveantur.'
alius sic ibat, alius autem sic: cont. 1.1, `utrumque apostolus dei donum esse praedicavit, cum de vita utraque, id est et coniugali et ea quae est sine coniugio, loqueretur dicens: vellem omnes homines sic esse sicut me ipsum; sed unusquisque proprium donum habet a deo: alius sic, alius autem sic. [1 Cor. 7.7]' (Further echo at `nec me prohibebat'; n.b. there `maxime'.) Putting his dissatisfaction in Pauline terms suggests that his dissatisfaction was not the proud (or curious, or concupiscent) disdain of the unconverted, but a seeker's genuine concern.
non iam inflammantibus cupiditatibus: Making explicit the end of ambitio saeculi; cf. sol. 1.10.17: `[Ratio] quid honores? [A.] fateor eos modo ac paene his diebus cupere destiti' (Mandouze 197n2).
decore domus tuae: Ps. 25.8, `domine, dilexi decorem domus tuae'; en. Ps. 25. en. 2.12, `domus dei ecclesia est; adhuc habet malos, sed decor domus dei in bonis est, in sanctis est.'
conligabar ex femina: 1 Cor. 7.26-28, `existimo ergo hoc bonum esse propter instantem necessitatem, quoniam bonum est homini sic esse. (27) alligatus es uxori? noli quaerere solutionem. solutus es ab uxore? noli quaerere uxorem. (28) si autem acceperis uxorem, non peccasti; et si nupserit virgo, non peccavit. tribulationem tamen carnis habebunt huiusmodi, ego autem vobis parco.' A. echoes but modifies the Pauline text to sharpen the point; wedlock was not the bond that held him.
maxime volens: "specially wishing," i.e., this was the thing he wanted most; not = valde cupiens as some have taken it (for the clarification, see De Marchi 313).
infirmior: 7.20.26, `nimis tamen infirmus ad fruendum te'.
volvebar: The comma that follows (proposed by De Marchi 313-314) clarifies the parallel between `hoc' and `quod'.
marcidis: `weak, enervated' not (as G-M and Hrdlicka) in the active sense, `wearying'; cf. ep. 158.11, `omnibus perturbationibus et erroribus liberam [animam] demonstrat, non marcidam et quasi segnem et torpidam et implicatam facit'; util. ieiun. 2.2, `nec cum istis erat, pigris, torpidis, marcidis, somnolentis'; en. Ps. 40.12, `flammae lentae et marcidae'.
in aliis rebus: Perhaps a hint similar to that at 6.12.22, where insatiabilis concupiscentia is the force driving A. to marriage, utterly unconscious of `coniugale decus in officio regendi matrimonii et suscipiendorum liberorum'. In both places he hints that the only thing moving him to marriage was desire, and that the married state as a whole was unappealing to him. This should be borne in mind as a hint that a decision to reject marriage was itself not entirely unappealing.
ex ore veritatis: Jn. 14.6.
spadones: Mt. 19.12 (Vg.), `sunt enim eunuchi qui de matris utero sic nati sunt, et sunt eunuchi qui facti sunt ab hominibus, et sunt eunuchi qui seipsos castraverunt propter regnum caelorum; qui potest capere, capiat.' For spadones in this gospel passage (from VL), cf. c. Faust. 30.4 and virg. 23.23 (`sunt enim spadones qui ita nati sunt; sunt autem alii qui ab hominibus facti sunt; et sunt spadones qui se ipsos castraverunt'): see Milne 53.
vani sunt certe omnes homines: Wisd. 13.1-3 (except for the first clause, as quoted at trin. 15.2.3), `vani sunt certe omnes homines quibus non inest dei scientia, nec de his quae videntur bona, non potuerunt scire eum qui est, neque operibus attendentes agnoverunt artificem, (2) sed aut ignem aut spiritum aut citatum aerem aut gyrum stellarum aut violentiam aquarum aut luminaria caeli, rectores orbis terrarum deos putaverunt. (3) quorum quidem si specie delectati haec deos putaverunt, sciant quanto dominator eorum melior est; speciei enim generator creavit ea.'
at ego: Introducing a summary of Bk. 7 and its ascents.
contestante universa creatura: Cf. Rom. 1.20, which was echoed in trin. 15.2.3 just before passage cited in note above; Rom. 1.20ff provides the frame of repeated reference for this whole paragraph (as notes below); Col. 1.16, `quia in ipso condita sunt universa in caelis et in terra visibilia et invisibilia . . . omnia per ipsum et in ipsum creata sunt'; cf. Jn. 1.3.
creatura creatura O S Knöll Skut. Ver.: creatura tua DG Maur.
te creatorem nostrum . . . creasti omnia: The Spirit is still absent from his creed; for other such concise creeds, cf. 7.7.11 and 7.20.26.
qui cognoscentes deum: The anti-philosophical verse (Rom 1.21) marks A.'s description at this stage of the Platonists. N.B. `incideram' : see on 7.20.26.
dextera tua: = Christus; see on 7.15.21, 11.2.4, and 11.29.39; cf. Knauer 121n4.
dixisti: Though the verb comes from the Job passage cited first, it governs the rest of the sentence and thus conflates from them a single divine command, directed against the philosophers.
ecce pietas est sapientia: Job 28.28 (VL), `et dixit homini, ecce pietas est sapientia'; quoted at 5.5.8 (see trin. 12.14.22 quoted there); cf. also trin. 14.1.1 (of theosebeia). At spir. et litt. 12.19 (after full quotation of Rom. 1.14-23), `dixit enim homini: ecce pietas est sapientia. ac per hoc dicentes se esse sapientes, quod non aliter intellegendum est, nisi hoc ipsum sibi tribuentes, stulti facti sunt.' (The following paragraph, spir. et litt. 12.20, quotes Jas. 4.6, `deus superbis resistit' --cf. 7.9.13.)
For pietas and cultus: civ. 14.28, `in hac autem [civitate caelesti] nulla est hominis sapientia nisi pietas, qua recte colitur verus deus'; ench. 2.1 adds, `hominis autem sapientia pietas est. habes hoc in libro sancti Iob. nam ibi legitur quod ipsa sapientia dixerit homini, ecce pietas est sapientia. si autem quaeras quam dixerit eo loco pietatem, distinctius in graeco reperies theosebeian, qui est dei cultus'.
For sapientia and continentia: b. vid. 17.21, `magna ista sunt duo munera sapientia et continentia; sapientia scilicet qua in dei cognitione formamur [2: corresponding to Bk. 7?], continentia vero qua huic saeculo non conformamur [3: corresponding to Bk. 8?].'
noli velle videri sapiens: Sirach 7.5, `non te iustifices ante deum, quoniam agnitor cordis ipse est, et penes regem noli velle videri sapiens'; earlier editors cite only Prov. 26.5, `sed responde illi contra imprudentiam eius, ne sibi sapiens videatur', and Prov. 3.7, `noli esse sapiens apud te ipsum', but note that neither offers the requisite ad verbum parallel to the present text: requisite because of the incorporation of three verses into a single command after `dixisti'.
quoniam dicentes . . . facti sunt: Rom. 1.22.
bonam margaritam: Mt. 13.45-46, `simile est regnum caelorum homini negotiatori quaerenti bonas margaritas. (46) inventa autem una pretiosa margarita, abiit et vendidit omnia quae habuit, et emit eam.'
venditis omnibus: Mt. 19.21, `si vis perfectus esse, vade, vende quae habes, et da pauperibus, et habebis thesaurum in caelo; et veni, sequere me'; the verse recurs implicitly at 8.6.14-15 and explicitly in the garden scene (8.12.29), in both cases arising from the story of Antony. It provides the model for the step A. is to take at the end of the book, hence its presence here completes the statement of the book's program. Also at 13.19.24.
text of 8.2.3
A. took his problems to Simplicianus. The example of Marius Victorinus was undoubtedly set before A. by S. with some witting sense of its possibilities as a model: a rhetorician with philosophical interests (A., like Victorinus, had even written philosophy--the de pulchro et apto) and prospects of a worldly career, brought by Platonic philosophy to the door of the church, but hesitating to enter until goaded to the requisite humility. But the presentation here is deliberately constructed to underline those parallels further and to prepare us for the conversion to come. The episode is so useful for those purposes that we must be careful not to assume that we have anything like a full account of any conversation A. actually had with Simplicianus. On the following paragraphs, see above all Hadot, Marius Victorinus: Recherches sur sa vie et son oeuvre (Paris, 1971), passim; cf. R. MacMullen, Christianizing the Roman Empire (New Haven, 1984), 69, `All his life he had been a rhetor, deeply read and a deeply religious man, even an evangelist for the cult of the gods.' Courcelle's views are best stated at Les Confessions 69-74, `Le néo-platonisme de Marius Victorinus'. See on `sacrorumque sacrilegorum particeps' below.
perrexi: Only one conversation is attested here; Courcelle, Recherches 168-174, uses civ. 10.29 (quoted on 7.9.13: n.b. `solebamus audire' --but notice that what A. is literally saying there is that S. recounted the same anecdote repeatedly, not always a sign of a specially effective teacher) to infer a series of conversations in which S. indoctrinated A. in the mysteries of Christian Platonism.
ergo: Resuming the intention from 8.1.1; the device matches that used in Bk. 5, for example, where the intention to hear Faustus is stated at 5.3.3, but he is not actually shown arriving until 5.6.10, `ergo ubi venit'.
patrem: Amb. ep. 37.2, `paternae gratiae'.
in accipienda gratia = in baptism.
tunc: This word is the sole evidence for dating this passage to after the death of Ambrose 4 April 397, hence to setting 397 as a terminus post quem for conf.; see prolegomena. For the usage, cf. 5.13.23, `praefectus tunc Symmachus'.
circuitus: In the same sense at 4.1.1, 6.6.9.
quosdam libros platonicorum: See 7.9.13.
Victorinus: Hadot, Marius Victorinus 25, dates his birth to 281/91, surmising that he could have known Porphyry. That presses the probabilities a bit far but does not break them. Courcelle, Les Confessions 557-558, dates conversion to before 354 and erection of the statue in his honor to 354 (on the glory of earning such a statue, see Amm. Marc. 14.6.8; another Christian rhetor similarly honored in this period is the stern Magnus [Dessau, ILS 2951; cf. Hier. ep. 70.]), but here `usque ad illam aetatem' seems to insist that V. was unbaptized when he received the honor. The only real contemporary case is that of Prohaeresius known from Eunapius (v. soph. 10.7.3-4), and there the honoree was certainly non-Christian.
The only other contemporary evidence for V.'s work comes from Jerome, and is not unmixed. In his chron. (Eusebius, Werke [GCS 7]), s.a. 2370 from the birth of Abraham, i.e., 354, J. testifies to his eminence: `Victorinus rhetor et Donatus grammaticus, praeceptor meus, Romae insignes habentur. e quibus Victorinus etiam statuam in foro Traiani meruit.' But writing at almost the moment of A.'s conversation with Simplicianus, Jerome was more reserved about his theological writings: in Gal. pr., `non quod ignorem Caium Marium Victorinum, qui Romae me puero rhetoricam docuit, edidisse commentarios in apostolum, sed quod occupatus ille eruditione saecularium litterarum scripturas omnino sanctas ignoraverit, et nemo possit, quamvis eloquens, de eo bene disputare quod nesciat.' A few years later (392), Jerome was scarcely less critical (vir. inl. 101): `Victorinus, natione Afer, Romae sub Constantio principe rhetoricam docuit et in extrema senectute Christi se tradens fidei scripsit adversus Arium libros more dialectico valde obscuros (qui nisi ab eruditis non intelleguntur) et commentarios in apostolum.' (The criticism for obscurity is perhaps weakened by Jerome's later mention [in Ezech. 13: 410/15] of V. as an authority on types of literary obscurity.) There are arguments about the nature and strength of V.'s pre-Christian and Christian religious and philosophical leanings (see Hadot passim). A Christian funerary inscription in honor of a granddaughter dying young memoralizes his continuing reputation: Diehl, ILCV 1.104.
A.'s statement here that V. was the translator of the platonicorum libri he read at 7.9.13 is the only evidence to suggest V. ever did such a translation. But V. himself was a cautious `Christian Platonist', quoting Plotinus only once in his works (adv. Arium 4.22.8: Hadot 203: `dans l'oeuvre théologique de Victorinus l'influence plotinienne est proprement négligeable'); more problematic for us, in his non-theological works, only Porphyry is cited and there is no direct Plotinian influence. Further, Ambrose's translations for Greek philosophical terms are consistently (Hadot 205) different from those found in the surviving works of V.: this makes it unlikely that Ambrose drew upon any platonicorum libri translated by V. These facts render all speculations about the content of the platonicorum libri in the end moot. Internal evidence from A. makes them seem preponderantly Plotinian, while the external evidence from V. offers no help (and leaves room for Theiler, e.g., to open the battle over the comparative proportions of Plotinus and Porphyry to be found in A.).
Hadot 215-31 considers whether M. V. composed a neo-Platonizing commentary on Vergil (Servius quotes him, e.g., on geo. 4.373) and hesitates to assent to the hypothesis. It is certain that A., esp. in civ., repeatedly invokes Vergil as a witness in his debates with the Platonists, a witness largely favorable to the other side. Notable is civ. 14.3, where the same neo-Platonizing reading of Aen. 6.730-734 is also reflected at Macrob. somn. Scip. 1.14.14 and in Amb. (in Luc. 7.113, exam. 1.6.23). Passages not discussed by Hadot include civ. 10.30 (where A. presses the disagreement between Plotinus and Porphyry on the question of reincarnation in animal form [Plotinus favors, Porphyry denies]), 14.5, 21.13. But all these passages quote Vergil from a small portion of Aen. 6, what is more liely than an extensive commentary is a more restricted treatment in some form of particularly attractive and malleable Vergilian passages. Courcelle had tended (e.g., LLW 46 and, with a wide range of texts of great interest for the history of Vergilian interpretation, AHDLMA 22, 5-74) to accept the argument of F. Bitsch, De Platonicorum quaestionibus quibusdam Vergilianis (Diss., Berlin, 1911), which has an interesting collection of texts and makes a persuasive, but not compelling, argument (and his treatment of A. omits conf.; he finds traces chiefly in A.'s civ. and cons. ev. and in Favonius Eulogius and Macrobius); cf. K. Schelkle, Virgil in der Deutung Augustins (Stuttgart, 1939), 185-186. Y. de Kisch, MEFR 82(1980), 362, emphasizes that Aeneid 6 is also almost exclusively the focus of the numerous episodes of the sortes in the HA.
One aspect of A.'s relation to V. requires emphasis: the lack of quotation or otherwise direct use, anywhere in A.'s canon, of any of Victorinus' theological works (rightly emphasized by R. J. O'Connell, Traditio 10, 2). Surely, for example, his commentary on the Pauline epistles would have been apposite at the moment A. was encountering Simplicianus, and surely his anti-Arian work and his triadic hymn on the trinity would have been useful. But there is no word of them anywhere, and nothing in Hadot's Marius Victorinus speaks to the contrary. P. Hadot, Studia Patristica 6(1962), 402-442, dresses an impeccable account of similarities and differences in the area of greatest similarity, the trinitarian structure of the soul, but Hadot at 433: `En lisant le de trinitate [of Augustine], il est pratiquement impossible d'affirmer si Augustin a connu ou non l'ouvrage de Victorinus'; 440: `Plus que des différences, il y a entre eux, me semble-t-il, un abîme.' V. employed in his own works, moreover, a terminological rigor in the usage of animus and anima that is entirely lacking in A. (O'Daly 8). (A. was aware that V. was a theologian: doctr. chr. 2.40.61, listing those Christians who have spoiled the Egyptians of their gold, listing him with Cyprian, Lactantius, Optatus of Milev, and Hilary of Poitiers as distinguished deceased Latin Christian authors.5 )
quondam: The word is rare in A. (60x overall, 7x in en. Ps., 7x in civ., 3x at most in conf. [and once, 1.16.26, in quotation from Terence]), much more frequently with adjectives or (as here) ps.-adjectivally with nouns than with verbs; cf. 9.13.37, `Monnicae . . . cum Patricio, quondam eius coniuge'. Wherever used, the meaning is consistent with that passage: `at one time'. In view of that the comma introduced after `quondam' by Skutella should be either deleted or moved to follow `Victorinus'; but the question presents itself whether quidam might not have been the original reading here (n.b. at 4.14.21, `Hierium, Romanae urbis oratorem', where the insertion of quondam would have been just as apt as here). That would be consistent with A.'s practice elsewhere (see on 3.4.7).
audieram: A.'s first information about V.'s Christianity thus came from a source other than S., and may conceivably date to A.'s own time in Rome.
secundum elementa: Col. 2.8, `videte ne quis vos decipiat per philosophiam et inanem fallaciam secundum traditionem hominum secundum elementa mundi et non secundum Christum.' Note how the verse is being used to praise the Platonists at the expense of other philosophers (see on 3.6.10).
incidissem: See on 7.20.26.
deum et eius verbum: See 7.9.13, and esp. civ. 10.29 and Io. ev. tr. 2.4, quoted there, on neo-Platonic respect for the first chapter of John.
ut me exhortaretur . . . parvulis: Simplicianus is shown sharing the diagnosis that A. has presented as his own of his condition at this time: full of haughty philosophy, and needing the humilitas Christi--hence the recurrence of Mt. 11.25, `confiteor tibi pater, domine caeli et terrae, quia abscondisti haec a sapientibus et prudentibus et revelasti ea parvulis' : the verse has already bracketed A.'s account of reading of the platonicorum libri: 7.9.14 (which continues with quotation of Mt. 11.28: cf. `subiecto collo' below) and 8.1.1 (where it is preceded by Mt. 11.28). N.B. `puer . . . infans' below.
recordatus est: In what capacity did Simplicianus know Victorinus? The events in question took place many years earlier (so it is likely that S. was rather younger than V.) and many miles from Milan, at Rome. But higher clergy in this period were not especially mobile. Further, S. tells at 8.2.5 of V.'s dealings with the presbyteri at Rome, leaving the implication that he was not one himself. S. was most probably at that time either himself a philosophically inclined layman or else just possibly a cleric in minor orders. Modern readings of this passage have, on the other hand, assumed that Simplicianus represents the clerical, churchly view, against which Victorinus represents the philosophical laity. S. may well have been much more sympathetic and accessible at the time V. knew him than such a stereotype allows, and may in his own reminiscences have given himself a larger role in the conversion story than strictly necessary.
deque illo mihi narravit: The conversion narratives of this book are recounted in A.'s own voice, with occasional authorizing interruptions (8.2.4, `ut ipse narrabat'), with little indirect discourse or other methods for putting the stories in the mouths of the people (S. and Ponticianus) from whom A. heard the stories (W. Schmidt-Dengler, REAug 15, 199). At 8.6.15, for example, the story of the courtiers of Trier begins in indirect discourse, but switches to direct even where it recounts Ponticianus' own actions, introducing only `narrabat haec Ponticianus' at 8.7.16 when the anecdote is over.
habet enim: 8 words of main clause, then conjunction and subject for subordinate clause (4 words), then 86 words of apposition and relative clauses, then 21 words completing the main subordinate clause. The impact of the sentence is in the grammatically subordinate material, esp. toward the end, where the impossibility of Victorinus's position as a `pagan' is made clear: he has participated in the eastern rites so popular at Rome, rites by which Rome (which Victorinus has defended over and over again with his words) is now supplicating to the gods it has vanquished--in that confusing welter, at the end of the long series of descriptive phrases and clauses, the choice to be a `puer Christi' and `infans' (with ironic application to a practicing rhetorician) seems not so surprising.
laudem gratiae tuae: Cf. Eph. 1.6, `in laudem gloriae gratiae suae'.
omnium liberalium doctrinarum: See on 4.16.30.
tam multa legerat: 5.3.3, `multa philosophorum legeram'. V.'s readings make clear the parallels (whether identified by S. or by A.) between Victorinus and the young Augustine. (The words philosophus/philosophia only occur in conf. from 3.4.7 [reading the Hortensius] to this point.)
statuam . . . acceperat: Confirmed by Hier. chron. (quoted above).
sacrorumque sacrilegorum particeps: Victorinus the theurgist? Cf. at trin. 4.10.13, the devil `sic hominem per elationis typhum potentiae quam iustitiae cupidiorem aut per falsam philosophiam magis inflans aut per sacra sacrilega inretiens, in quibus etiam magicae fallaciae curiosiores superbioresque animas deceptas inlusasque praecipitans, subditum tenet pollicens etiam purgationem animae per eas quas teletas appellant transfigurando se in angelum lucis per multiformem machinationem in signis et prodigiis mendacii.' (Cf. 2 Cor. 11.14, `Satanas transfigurat se in angelum lucis.'
spirabat spirabat G O S: inspirabat D
±popiliosiam±: ±popiliosiam± ODonnell Clearly the ductus literarum of the archetype: popilios iam O S A H V E F M Popilius is attested as a Roman gentile name, e.g., that of M. Popilius Laenas, cos. 172 BC, and would have been known to A. from Cic. off. 1.11.36, but there is no connection here.: popilius iam D: populiosiam P: populuosiam Z: populiosirim B: populique iam G
This locus desperatus has resisted healing: : populus etiam Louvain Lovanienses; : populo iam Maur. Knöll Maurists, Knöll; : populos iam Pusey Pusey; : prodigia iam Knöll (ed. min.) Knöll (ed. min.); : populo Osirim Ihm M. Ihm, Rh. Mus. 51(1896), 638, followed by de Labriolle; : Porden Pelusiam Vaccari A. Vaccari, Didaskaleion n.s. 2(1924), 3-9 (repr. in his Scritti di erudizione e di filologia 2 [Rome, 1958], 219-227), with further discussion at Gregorianum 42(1961), 730-731; : sperabat propitia sibi iam Colombo S. Colombo, Didaskaleion n.s. 7(1929), fasc. 2, 17-22; : propudiosa Sizoo A. Sizoo, Mnemosyne ser. 3, 4(1936), 255-256; : Populoniam Vega (a city in Etruria), A.C. Vega, Religión y Cultura 10(1930), 260-265; : propitia iam Vega Vega in his ed.; : populi ursam Vega Vega in ed. (`fortasse'); : propolis iam Skut. Skutella: presumably dative, `shopkeepers': instancing civ. 7.26, `itemque de mollibus eidem Matri Magnae contra omnem virorum mulierumque verecundiam consecratis, qui usque in hesternum diem madidis capillis facie dealbata, fluentibus membris incessu femineo per plateas vicosque Carthaginis etiam a propolis unde turpiter viverent exigebant, nihil Varro dicere voluit'; : propudia Castigilioni Castigilioni, rev. Skut., Athenaeum (1935), 274; : populusque iam Capello Capello, in his ed. of conf. (Turin, 1948); : pupulos iam Courcelle Courcelle, REL 29 (1951), 295-307; : propudiosa Herrmann L. Herrmann, Aug. Mag. 1.138; : Pelusiotam Preaux J. Preaux, Hommages à Max Niedermann (= Collection Latomus, 23 [Brussels, 1956]), 286-295; : Pupullosirim Solignac `le bébé d'Osiris', Solignac (BA 14.15n2); : popularium Preux J. Preaux, rev. Courcelle, Les Confessions, Latomus 25(1966), 322-326;: populi Pelusiam Ver. Verheijen in his ed.
The recent arguments for seeing an allusion to the Egyptian city Pelusium (Vaccari, Preaux's earlier venture, and Verheijen all move in that direction) is important as an attempt to give the text further, suitably recherché, Egyptian reference. Vaccari usefully quotes Hier. in Is. 13.46, quoted below on the Vergil citation. Courcelle's argument at Les Confessions 82-88 for pupulos (`little boys', of the Egyptian gods) is good; his best argument, that in the context of the sentence, `senex . . . pupulos . . . puer' all speak to each other; but who is to say (to either of these Egyptianizing readings) that any of Augustine's readers would understand the reference, coming before the Vergil citation? And how many would understand it after? If C. is right, the pupulos refers to Harpocrates (i.e., Horus, son of Isis and Osiris), represented with a finger over his mouth, or being nursed by Isis (but even then the plural is a problem). But there is certainly little sign that A. knew much of Osiris: mentioned 5x in civ. (at least one, at 8.26, directly dependent on ps.-Apul. Ascl.).
No consensus has been reached or is likely. For further bibliography, see note at BA 14.536-537 and Courcelle, Les Confessions 75-88 (some texts quoted below on `Anubem'). If it may be permitted to add one suggestion to this list, consider:
Pompilii deos iam: cf. ep. 102.2.13, `Numa Pompilius deos colendos Romanis instituit'; civ. 3.9-12, 7.34-5, `ipsumque Numam Pompilium curiositate inlicita ad ea daemonum pervenisse secreta', 7.35, `curiosissimus rex ille Romanus'. On Numa's place in late fourth century literature, see Y. de Kisch, MEFR 82(1970), 331-332, quoting the hist. aug., Claudian, and Macrobius.
omnigenum . . . tenuerant: Aen. 8.698-700:
omnigenumque deum monstra et latrator Anubis The implication is that the Roman nobility has now changed sides and gone over to the eastern cults, betraying their heritage. Modern students of `paganism' have often repeated the charge.
contra Neptunum et Venerem contraque Minervam
Anubem: A literal reading seeks evidence for Egyptian worship in Rome in the fourth century, and this of course is forthcoming: A. Alföldi, A Festival of Isis (Budapest, 1937), finds an Isis priest portrayed in the Calendar of 354 and expands on fourth-century Isis-worship. But to denote such practices with a line from Vergil is a sign of conventionality at least (see below), and it is also possible that this passage is connected to the nest of Egypt-allusions at 7.9.15, on which see notes there. A. associates `the exodus from Egypt with Baptism (en. Ps. 80.15f.) with Christ as the guide (en. Ps. 43.10) who frees us from the former life of sin (en. Ps. 72.5)' : A. Di Berardino, Aug.-Lex. 1.139. The Egyptian quality of V.'s `paganism' makes him an apt candidate for baptism, and he is besides a merchant of Egyptian gold. (The Vergilian passage provides material for Prud. c. Symm. 2.514 [`molliaque omnigenum colla inclinare deorum'], 2.532 [`nil potuit Serapis deus et latrator Anubis'], and 2.535-536 [`non armata Venus, non tunc clipeata Minerva | venere auxilio']. Anubis barks in Propertius [3.11.42] and Ovid [met. 9.60] as well, and in the `carmen contra paganos' [Mommsen, Gesammelte Schriften (Berlin, 1909) 7.485ff] written in Italy during or not long after A.'s time there [95: `quid tibi sacrato placuit latrator Anubis?']; it is a stock example of `oriental paganism' and tells us nothing about actual practice.)
Courcelle, Les Confessions 70, concentrates on `terricrepo' (a vivid neologism, first here: Hrdlicka 13) and links it to Egypt; the Vergil text is quoted in the fourth century to stigmatize cults, esp. Egyptian animal-worship; `terricrepo' hints at the polemical, anti-Christian quality of what V. said in those days (cf. 8.4.9, `Victorini lingua, quo telo grandi et acuto multos peremerat'). Relevant texts are Rufinus trans. Greg. Naz. de luminibus 5.3 (CSEL 46.114.22), `nec Osiris membra discerpta et Aegyptiorum lamentationibus perquisita; non Isidis error infelix neque hirci Mendesii nec Apidos vituli praesepe Memphiticis cultoribus stulta adoratione veneratum . . . omitto pecudum et serpentium omnigenumque deorum monstra retexere'; Hier. in Esaiam 13.46, `facta sunt simulacra eorum bestiis et iumentis, [Is. 46.1] non quo simulacra gentilium in praedam bestiarum et iumentorum exposita sint, sed quo religio nationum simulacra sint bestiarum et brutarum animantium, quae maxime in Aegypto divino cultui consecrata sunt. de quibus Vergilius, omnigenumque deum monstra et latrator Anubis. nam et pleraque oppida eorum ex bestiis et iumentis habet nomina [four examples are given] . . . ut taceam de formidoloso et horribili cepe et crepitu ventris inflati, quae Pelusiaca religio est'; Hier. in Ezech. 3.8.10, `hoc in delubris fanisque gentilium hucusque perspicimus, quod omnia genera bestiarum adoret stulta religio. unde et Vergilius ait, omnigenumque deum monstra et latrator Anubis, quasi non et illa sint monstra quae laudat: contra Neptunum et Venerem contraque Minervam'; Hier. adv. Iov. 2.7, `singulae paene in Aegypto civitates singulas bestias et monstra venerantur.' Courcelle, Les Confessions 78n2: `Pour l'emploi du vers de Virgile par Augustin et Jérôme, je croirais volontiers, comme Vaccari . . . à une source commune, sans doute un apologiste.' (But C. weakens that suggestion immediately by citing the proof that the charge was a commonplace: Maximus of Madauros, in A. ep. 16.2, `sed mihi hac tempestate propemodum videtur bellum Actiacum rursus exortum, quo Aegyptia monstra in Romanorum deos audeant tela vibrare minime duratura.')
infans: Jn. 3.5, `nisi renatus fuerit'.
fontis tui: Ps. 35.10, `quoniam apud te fons vitae'; en. Ps. 35.15, `quis est fons vitae, nisi Christus?'; Jn. 4.14, `fons aquae salientis in vitam aeternam' (6.1.1); Apoc. 21.6, `ego sitienti dabo de fonte aquae vivae gratis.'
subiecto collo: Sirach 51.34, `et collum vestrum subicite sub iugo et suscipiat anima vestra disciplinam'; Jer. 27.12, `subicite colla vestra iugo regis Babylonis'; Mt. 11.29-30, `tollite iugum meum super vos, . . . (30) iugum enim meum suave est et sarcina mea levis est.'
crucis opprobrium: Gal. 5.11, `scandalum crucis'; on the liturgical function, cf. on 1.11.17, `signabar iam signo crucis'. Cf. civ. 10.28, `contemnis enim eum [Christum] propter corpus ex femina acceptum et propter crucis opprobrium'; the same phrase also at ss. Mai 94.5, 126.11; there is in addition a raft of passages where opprobrium is visited upon those who show allegiance to the cross (e.g., en. Ps. 53.4, 59.9, 68. s. 1.2, 68. s. 2.4, 108.27, 119.1, 122.1). A.'s use is the earliest attested in TLL, but cf. also Amb. exp. Ps. 43.54, `opprobrium crucis . . . ; qui autem crucem illam putavit opprobrium et quasi opprobrium refugit, is vere in diuturno mansit opprobrio'; sim. at exp. Ps. 43.88.
text of 8.2.4
The bashful respect for Christianity that A. depicts here was one he thought common in his time: s. 279.7, `multi credunt corde, et erubescunt confiteri ore. sciatis, fratres, prope iam neminem esse paganorum qui non apud se ipsum miretur et sentiat impleri prophetias de Christo exaltato super caelos, quia vident super omnem terram gloriam eius.'
o domine . . . fumigaverunt: Ps. 143.5, `domine, inclina caelos et descende, tange montes et fumigabunt.' The correct interpretation was found by Knauer 61-63. Note (1) that the text is interpreted as a prayer uttered by the church itself, (2) that the `caeli' are the apostles in their humility whose preaching represents the condescension of the heavens, (3) that the mountains are the proud of this world, who confess their sins using the very words with which A. began his own conf.: en. Ps. 143.12, `corpus Christi, humilis David, gratia plenus, de deo praesumens, pugnans in hoc saeculo, invocat adiutorium dei: inclina caelos tuos, et descende. qui sunt caeli inclinati? apostoli humilati. isti enim caeli enarrant gloriam dei. [Ps. 18.2] . . . cum ergo isti caeli emitterent voces suas per omnes terras, et facerent mirabilia, coruscante de illis et intonante domino miraculis et praeceptis, putati sunt dii descendisse de caelo ad homines. . . . tange montes, et fumigabunt: montes superbos, elationes terrenas, tumidas granditates: tange, inquit, tange istos montes; de gratia tua da istis montibus: et fumigabunt, quia fatebuntur peccata sua. . . . quamdiu non tacti, magni sibi videntur. dicturi sunt, tu magnus, domine [cf. 1.1.1]; dicturi sunt et montes, tu solus altissimus super omnem terram. [Ps. 82.19]'
The question answers itself. How did God insinuate himself into the heart of Victorinus? By apostolic preaching and by the moral purification that results in confession of sin. This confirms the scheme of presentation here: V. is being adduced not simply as a parallel for Platonic intellectual difficulties on the threshold of the church, but as parallel as well for the moral choice that A. thought must accompany entry.
secretius et familiarius: Paralleling A.'s approach to S.
parietes: In the fourth century there was a distinct alternative for men like Victorinus: `associate membership' in the church, marked by admission to the catechumenate and deferred baptism (see on 1.11.17, `signabar'). In his episcopal career, A. was conscious of individuals who might be catechumens of upright life and hesitate at baptism, wondering what it would bring them that they did not already have: Io. ev. tr. 4.13, 13.6; close to V.'s attitude is that reported at s. 37.5.6, `invenis alium dicentem tibi: sufficit mihi in conscientia deum colere, deum adorare. quid mihi opus est aut in ecclesiam ire aut visibiliter misceri christianis?' With both V. and A., S. rules out the easier path and demands the higher.
We must guard against incomplete interpretations of this passage, against being led astray by the consciously witty form in which V.'s objection is presented, for which Courcelle, Recherches ed. 2, 383-391, will stand as the most characteristic representative. Courcelle 383: `il finit par ne plus voir d'opposition entre christianisme et néo-platonisme et prit conscience qu'il était devenu chrétien.' At 391: `Nous ignorerons sans doute toujours comment Simplicien leva l'objection et pourquoi Victorinus se ravisa brusquement pour s'inscrire en vue du baptême.' The texts Courcelle collects show clearly that Christians were well aware that `walls' are not everything, and they themselves tended to downplay their importance: Hadot 247 quotes Hil. Pict. c. Aux. [arrian.] 12, `male enim vos parietum amor cepit, male ecclesiam dei in tectis aedificiisque veneramini'; cf. Lact. inst. 4.13.26, `ecclesia, quae est verum templum dei, quod non in parietibus est sed in corde ac fide hominum'. Slightly later is Hier. tr. ps. 133.1, `ecclesia non in parietibus consistit, sed in dogmatum veritate' (cf. Hier. epp. 52.10, ep. 58.7). A. himself: cat. rud. 27.55, `homines autem perversos, etiamsi intrent parietes ecclesiae, non eos arbitretis intraturos in regnum caelorum: quia suo tempore separabuntur, si se in melius non commutaverint'; sim. (including the word parietes) at s. 15.1.1 and en. Ps. 127.11. (A survey of the implicit doctrine down to the eighteenth century is provided by Y.-M.-J. Congar, La Maison-Dieu, no. 70 , 105-114. At 107 he aptly quotes the rhetorical question of exc. urb., `an putatis, fratres, civitatem in parietibus et non in civibus deputandam?')
The key is probably `inridebat . . . inrisio' : granted the Stoic antecedents of the notion that divinity does not dwell in parietes, Victorinus likely knew the Christian use of the topos, and twisted the argument to his own advantage: `You say that Christianity isn't a matter of walls? Very well, you shan't mind then if I remain outside the walls.' Philosophy may seem not to have much to do with cult, but philosophers and students of philosophy were anything but cultless: rather, they did not see a necessary link between the two. It was a late antique invention that cult could be brought under the influence of texts and the ideas they contain, that one could not have the cult without the doctrine or the doctrine without the cult. V. did not quite see this. He wanted to have the Christian doctrine without taking the cult that went with it. A. does not say that he himself felt that way explicitly, but V.'s is the apposite story that S. tells him at the time, and he includes it in conf. here.
saepe dicebat: Another parallel with A.: 7.20.26, `garriebam plane quasi peritus.'
amicos: Friends a negative influence on A.: cf. 2.5.10, 2.9.17, and cf. 4.8.13. At the period of which S. relates (not long before or after 354), entry to the Christian community at Rome would have been for a distinguished rhetor a social move drastic enough to give pause.
daemonicolas: Apparently an Augustinian neologism (Hrdlicka 12); at civ. 9.19 he uses the word with an apologetic `ut ita dixerim', and cf. epp. 42, 169.1.1, 231.5, and civ. 18.41. For `superbos', see on `montes' above. On demons and `paganism' , see civ. 8.14.
Babylonicae: Cf. Is. 14.4, 14.12, 14.13, Apoc. 17.9, etc.; en. Ps. 136.2, `Babylonia . . . ibi appetant superbiam et perituram elationem odiosamque iactantiam.' Babylon = Rome, as so often (including Rev. 17.9 and in civ.). s. 216.4.4 (addressed to baptismal candidate), `Babylonicae captivitatis vos aliquando iam taedeat. ecce Hierusalem, mater illa caelestis, in viis hilariter invitans occurrit, et obsecrat ut velitis vitam, et diligatis videre dies bonos, quos nunquam habuistis nec unquam in hoc saeculo habebitis.'
cedris . . . contriverat: Ps. 28.5, `vox domini conterens cedros, et conteret dominus cedros Libani'; en. Ps. 28.5, `vox domini contritione cordis huMilans superbos. . . . conteret per paenitentiam dominus elatos nitore terrenae nobilitatis'. en. Ps. 103. s. 3.15, `Libanus dicitur candidatio: videtur autem candidatio esse saeculi huius, modo nitentis et fulgentis in pompis suis.' Cf. the image in parallel context at 9.4.7 (at Cassiciacum).
legendo: A first example of a conversion effected in large measure by reading; cf. 8.12.29, but recall the prophecy at 3.12.21 (the ex-Manichee bishop consoling Monnica): `ipse legendo reperiet . . .'
timuitque negari: Lk. 12.8-9, `dico autem vobis, omnis, quicumque confessus fuerit in me coram hominibus, et filius hominis confitebitur in illo coram angelis dei; (9) qui autem negaverit me coram hominibus, denegabitur coram angelis dei.' The position of this quotation suggests that this was V.'s `tolle lege'. Cf. s. 213.4.5 (addressed to baptismal candidates), `confiteamur salvatorem ne timeamus iudicem.'
sacris sacrilegis: Sim. at 8.2.3.
imitator superbus: Taken in the sense of 2.6.14, perverse imitation of the celsitudo dei.
depuduit . . . veritati: `he was unabashed in the face of vanitas, abashed in the face of veritas', i.e., he was no longer embarrassed when his deeds ran counter to his vanitas, and was now embarrassed when they ran counter to veritas. See TLL s.v. depudesco, `pudorem exuere, impudicum fieri'. Translators are hard pressed by the expression: best is Ryan, `he put aside shame from vanity and became modest before the truth.'
vanitati . . . vanitates: See on 7.1.1 for vanitas as common self-reproach and sign of curiositas: hence here another link between A. and Victorinus.
erubuit: s. 215.5 (addressed to baptismal candidates), `denique ne dubitares, ne erubesceres, quando primum credidisti, signum Christi in fronte tamquam in domo pudoris accepisti. . . . noli ergo erubescere ignominiam crucis, quam pro te deus ipse non dubitavit excipere.'
eamus in ecclesiam: Courcelle, Les Confessions 66, fundamentally misreads this passage by suggesting that 8.6.13, `frequentabam ecclesiam tuam', shows A. profiting by this exhortation to V. V.'s `let's go to church' implies his willing submission to the sacramental discipline of the catholic community, while A. haunting the churches at 8.6.13 represents only the obsession and frustration of the half-converted.
imbutus . . . sacramentis: For the catechumenate, see on 1.11.17; that it was `sacramental', cf. pecc. mer. 2.26.42, `nam et catechumenos secundum quendam modum suum per signum Christi et orationem manus impositionis puto sanctificari et, quod accipiunt quamvis non sit corpus Christi, sanctum est tamen et sanctius quam cibi quibus alimur, quoniam sacramentum est.'
Vega ad loc. argues that imbutus here speaks not to liturgical acts but to the homilies for competentes (citing Leo Magnus ep. 16., `in baptizandis electis . . . qui et frequentibus sunt praedicationibus imbuendi'). But here and at 8.10.23, 9.3.6, 13.20.26, 13.20.28, and 13.34.49, A.'s unambiguous reference is to sacramental actions to the exclusion of preaching. The only exceptions in conf. are 13.26.39 (quoting Phil. 4.12 [VL]) and 1.13.20, `graecas litteras . . . quibus puerulus imbuebar'. Elsewhere the association is frequent but far from universal; for some unambiguous passages over time, cf. Rom. inch. exp. 19, cat. rud. 13.19, and c. Iul. imp. 1.67, 2.92, and 4.122. (The association with cult acts perhaps carries further an association begun in CL [but the texts are few and ambiguous]: cf. T. Camelot, Aug. Mag. 2.892.) The expression also occurs elsewhere in A.: s. 269.2, `quamvis sacramento baptismi imbuatur'; s. 345.4 (= s. Frang. 3.4), `hoc sacramento imbutus sum.'
nomen dedit: See on 9.6.14.
Roma: The synecdoche is the exact counterpart of 8.2.3, `a se victis iam Roma supplicabat'.
irascebantur . . . tabescebant: en. Ps. 69.4, `non deest fremitus persecutorum; impetus suos ad cogitationes verterunt. . . . dictum est de his temporibus ecclesiae, peccator videbit, et irascetur. . . . dentibus suis frendet, et tabescet. [Ps. 111.10]' The same verse quoted of persecution at en. Ps. 32. en. 2 s. 2.9-10, s. 361.14.14, en. Ps. 78.13--taken as persecutor of the church (Knauer, 164).
deus erat spes . . . mendaces: Ps. 39.5, `beatus vir cuius est nomen domini spes eius et non respexit in vanitates et insanias mendaces.' See on 6.11.18 (of A.'s pre-conversion life) and cf. 9.2.2 (of A.'s rhetorical wares).
text of 8.2.5
On this paragraph's narrative, see S. Poque, Augustinianum 25(1985), 133-143.
verbis certis conceptis retentisque memoriter: What is described here is the redditio symboli, where the baptismal candidate recited the creed6 he had been taught as part of baptismal preparation. The disciplina arcani of the church of the time resisted writing down the text of the creed (s. 212.2 `in traditione symboli': `nec ut eadem verba symboli teneatis ullo modo debetis scribere, sed audiendo perdiscere: nec cum didiceritis, scribere, sed memoria semper tenere atque recolere'; sim. in a note by the notarius at s. 214.1), hence the text must be reconstructed from allusions and expositions. The following reconstruction of the Roman creed of this time is from J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Creeds (3rd ed., London, 1972), 102--see Kelly's extensive discussion for the details, noting the absence of the `descent into hell' and the `communion of saints' clauses:
credo in deum patrem omnipotentem, et in Christum Iesum, filium eius unicum, dominum nostrum, qui natus est de spiritu sancto et Maria virgine, qui sub Pontio Pilato crucifixus est et sepultus, tertia die resurrexit a mortuis, ascendit in caelos, sedet ad dexteram patris unde venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos; et in spiritum sanctum, sanctam ecclesiam catholicam, remissionem peccatorum, carnis resurrectionem.
de loco eminentiore: The custom is corroborated by a contemporary source: Rufinus, comm. in symb. apost. 3, `in ecclesia . . . urbis Romae . . . mos . . . servatur antiquus, eos qui gratiam baptismi suscepturi sunt, publice, id est fidelium populo audiente, symbolum reddere et utique adiectionem unius saltem sermonis eorum, qui praecesserunt in fide, non admittit auditus' (Poque, art. cit. 136).
fidelis: `baptized' (see on 2.3.6).
accessuri: Apparently almost a technical term: s. 58.6.7, `qui ad sanctum baptisma accedetis' (Poque, art. cit. 134).
insanorum: Apt of the customers for insanias mendaces (8.2.4).
instrepuerunt instrepuerunt G S Knöll Skut.: strepuerunt DO Ver.
instrepere is much rarer; the pattern seems to be `instrepuerunt . . . strepitu' (of a loud outburst), then `sonuit presso sonitu' of a running whisper (cf. `sonuerunt . . . siluerunt' below); the reading strepuerunt arises from unfamiliarity with the form and a tendency to assimilate forms to pattern.
non eum non eum D G S Knöll Skut.: eum non O Ver.
text of 8.3.6
The reports of Sin the editions can confuse. The right side of this leaf is damaged and all supplements are speculative: what survives is aut, then a lacuna, then eum noverat (with the M inserted above the line) at the beginning of the next line. There is no sign of non after eum, so Sshould be taken as supporting the order non eum.
The question posed here is not answered: we are only told that it is so with God as well (`tu quoque'), and that scripture has examples, including most pertinently the prodigal son. The next paragraph is full of examples of similar emotions drawn from ordinary life. Then 8.3.8 presses the question again, ending with no answer but only a rhetorical question (`an is est modus earum . . . ?'); the rhetorical question stands for the answer (as often in A.), but here offers no more incisive suggestion than that this is the way God created us. The end of the inquiry is the exclamation there that God is beyond comprehension.
Note the constellation of echoes in this paragraph of Luke 15, the lost sheep, the lost drachma, and the prodigal son.
quid agitur in homine: Cf. 10.3.3, `nemo scit hominum quid agatur in homine nisi spiritus hominis qui in ipso est' (echoing there 1 Cor. 2.11).
misericors pater: Knauer 32n4: This is only the second use of pater in conf. applied to God `our father' (not `The Father'); 3.6.10, `mi pater, summe bone'. From here on, more common: 9.4.9, then 2x in Bk. 10, 3x in 11, 3x in 13.
plus gaudes: Lk. 15.4-7, `quis ex vobis homo qui habet centum oves et si perdiderit unam ex illis, nonne dimittit nonaginta novem in deserto et vadit ad illam quae perierat donec inveniat illam? (5) et cum invenerit eam, imponit in umeros suos gaudens (6) et veniens domum convocat amicos et vicinos dicens illis, congratulamini mihi, quia inveni ovem meam, quae perierat. (7) dico vobis, ita gaudium erit in caelo super uno peccatore paenitentiam agente quam super nonaginta novem iustis, qui non indigent paenitentia.'
quae erraverat: Lk. 15.4-6 above and Lk. 15.10 below; behind the gospel stands Ps. 118.176, `erravi sicut ovis perdita quaere servum tuum, quia mandata tua non sum oblitus' (Ps. and Lk. texts linked at en. Ps. 118. s. 32.7); cf. 12.15.21, `erravi sicut ovis perdita, sed in umeris pastoris mei, structoris tui, spero me reportari tibi.'
et drachma referatur: Lk. 15.8-10, `aut quae mulier habens drachmas decem, si perdiderit drachmam unam nonne accendit lucernam et everrit domum et quaerit diligenter doncec inveniat? (9) et cum invenerit, convocat amicas et vicinas dicens, congratulamini mihi quia inveni drachmam quam perdideram. (10) ita dico vobis, gaudium fit coram angelis dei super uno peccatore paenitentiam agente.'
et lacrimas . . . in domo tua: A scene in church on Sunday (`sollemnitatis' = `Mass': see on 3.3.5), showing the power of the spoken Word. Ps. 25.8, `domine, dilexi decorem domus tuae' (see on 8.1.2).
de minore filio tuo: On the prodigal in conf., see on 1.18.28; here cf. Lk. 15.32, `frater tuus mortuus erat et revixit, perierat et inventus est'; Lk. 15.24, `his filius meus mortuus erat et revixit, perierat et inventus est.' A. conflates the parables of the lost sheep and the prodigal at en. Ps. 70. s. 1.5; cf. en. Ps. 44.9, `sed etiam de nobis dictum est, mortuus erat, et revixit; perierat, et inventus est.'
tu semper idem: Cf. Ps. 101.28 (= Heb. 1.12), see on 7.20.26 etc.
qui qui D G O Maur. Ver.: quia S Knöll Skut.
semper nosti omnia: Cf. Dan. 13.42, `qui nosti omnia antequam fiant', but the principle is more philosophical (incommutability: see on 7.1.1) than scriptural.
text of 8.3.7
This meditation starts from Victorinus, but the real subject is A. himself: why was his conversion delayed so long? why should it be such an object of rejoicing? The form is unusual for conf. and Courcelle, Les Confessions 111n2, sees a resemblance to Stoic diatribe. There are two separate movements in the paragraph, each in three parts: extraordinary successes (an emperor's triumph, a shipwreck avoided, a dying man recovers) and ordinary pleasures (a dieter's delights, a drunk's devices, a bridegroom's impatience). See on `et institutum est'.
quid ergo agitur: Revives the question posed at the beginning of 8.3.6.
tempestas: Lk. 8.24, `at ille surgens increpavit ventum et tempestatem aquae et cessaverunt, et facta est tranquillitas' --but the motif is conventional. (At 6.1.1 A. is metaphorically shipwrecked.)
futura morte pallescunt: Aen. 4.644, `[Dido] pallida [nom.] morte futura [abl.]'.
vena eius malum renuntiat: The medical language is common elsewhere, though often metaphorical: en. Ps. 43.20, `medicus noverat, vena inspecta, quid intus ageretur in aegroto; aegrotus non noverat.'
et institutum est: The bridegroom impatient for the nuptials is in exactly the position in which A. outwardly found himself at this moment (see 6.13.23). Is the irony intentional, or is the development here merely conventional and unthinking?
text of 8.3.8
hoc (4x): The general principle outlined in 8.3.7 (`easque ipsas voluptates . . .'), but the sequence here is clearly tied to concupiscentia carnis, ranging from fornication through marriage to friendship (see on 2.2.2, `luminosus limes amicitiae').
mortuus . . . inventus est: Lk. 15.24 = Lk. 15.32 (quoted on 8.3.6).
quid est hoc: Exod. 13.14, 16.15, Sirach 39.26; see on 7.6.10.
aeternum: With `gaudium'.
quaedam: G-M: `doubtless . . . the angels: the neuter is due to the conception, under Neo-Platonic influence, of the whole caelum caeli [see on 12.2.2] as animate.'
modus : See on 1.7.12.
a summis caelorum: Mt. 24.31, `et congregabunt electos eius a quattuor ventis, a summis caelorum usque ad terminos eorum.'
ab angelo usque ad vermiculum: Cf. Io. ev. tr. 1.13, `quid praeclarius angelo in creaturis? quid extremius vermiculo in creaturis?'
excelsus es in excelsis: No clear biblical parallel, but Knauer 53 suggests Is. 33.5, `sanctus deus qui habitat in excelsis' (cf. 1.18.29, `habitans in excelsis'); and for the nom. many parallels, e.g., Gn. 14.20, `benedictus deus excelsus', Iob 36.23, `deus excelsus', Ps. 112.4, `excelsus super omnes gentes'. The agnosticism here resembles that which A. would later invoke programmatically in questions of grace and free will, then usually with the citation of Rom. 11.33-36 on the inscrutability of divine judgment: see on 4.4.8, `investigabilis abyssus').
redimus: See on 1.18.28.
text of 8.4.9
Another encapsulated conversion story.
accende: 10.29.40, `o amor, qui semper ardes et numquam extingueris, caritas, deus meus, accende me!' First in conf. consistently in a worldly sense (2.8.16, `accenderem pruritum cupiditatis meae', 2.8.16 3.4.8 [2x], 4.14.21, 4.14.23), then (first here) consistently applied to divine activity working on A. (8.4.9, `accende et rape, flagra', 8.6.15, 9.2.3, 9.4.8, 13.9.10, `dono tuo accendimur et sursum ferimur', 13.14.15).
flagra flagra G D O2 Maur. Skut. Ver.: fragla S: fragra Knöll (emending)
The reading of O1 here is questionable, either flagra or fragra; cf. 9.7.16, 10.27.38.
ex profundiore tartaro: 1.16.26, `flumen tartareum', 3.1.1, `de tartaro libidinis'.
accedunt et inluminantur: Ps. 33.6, `accedite ad eum, et inluminami'; en. Ps. 33. s. 2.10, `nos ad eum accedamus, ut corpus et sanguinem eius accipiamus. . . . nos manducando crucifixum et bibendo inluminamur' --a sacramental reading for language that could otherwise be read as Plotinian.
quod si qui recipiunt: Jn. 1.9, 1.12 (for text, see on 7.9.13).
et (in singulis): = etiam.
accipiantur personae: Cf. Deut. 1.17, `ita parvum audietis ut magnum, nec accipietis cuiusquam personam, quia dei iudicium est'; sim. at Deut. 16.19, Sirach 42.1, Act. 10.34, Rom. 2.11, Gal. 2.6, Eph. 6.9, Col. 3.25, Jas. 2.1, 2.9, 1 Pet. 1.17.
The meditation continues to maneuver in the space between the model (Victorinus) and the confessor (A.). In the main, it has to do with V.'s conversion, but it also speaks to A.'s own situation. Why should the bishop write so trumpetingly of his conversion? What good will come of it? (And why should he not have been as diffident as Alypius apparently was?)
infirma mundi: 1 Cor. 1.27-28 (text from en. Ps. 149.14), `infirma mundi elegit deus, ut confunderet fortia, (28) et stulta mundi elegit deus ad confundendos sapientes, et ea quae non sunt tamquam ea quae sunt, ut quae sunt evacuentur.' en. Ps. 140.21, `de stercore erectus Petrus, et Paulus; et cum occiderentur, contemnebantur; modo iam saginata inde terra, exsurgente segete ecclesiae, ecce quod est nobile et praecipuum in mundo, imperator venit Romam; quo festinat? ad templum imperatoris, an ad memoriam piscatoris?'
ea quae non sunt: Rom. 4.17, `[deus] qui vivificat mortuos et vocat ea quae non sunt, quasi sint.'
minimus apostolorum: 1 Cor. 15.9, `ego enim sum minimus apostolorum'; also at 7.21.27.
proconsul proconsul G2 O2 Maur.: pro consule DG1 O1 S Knöll Skut. Ver.
For the form, see on 4.3.5. Act. 13.7-12 recounts the conversion of a Roman dignitary named Paulus, but also the first occurrence, at Act. 13.9, of the apostle's new name: `Saulus autem, qui et Paulus, repletus spiritu sancto.' There is no other indication in the Acts text that the taking of the name was tied to this particular victoria. What is noteworthy is the form of the conversion--sudden, brought about by the words of the apostle Paul.
debellata superbia: Aen. 6.853, `parcere subiectis et debellare superbos'; civ. 1. pr. compares this command of Anchises to one of A.'s favorite verses, `deus superbis resistit, humilibus autem dat gratiam' (see on 1.1.1) and continues: `hoc vero, quod dei est, superbae quoque animae spiritus inflatus adfectat amatque sibi in laudibus dici: parcere . . . superbos.' Here, where the actor is indeed God himself, the echo is perfectly appropriate, a licit reading of the Aeneid (C. Bennett, REAug 34, 47-69). (Also quoted, with approval for the content if not for the application, at civ. 1.6, 5.12.)
sub lene iugum Christi tui: Mt. 11.29-30, `tollite iugum meum super vos . . .; (30) iugum enim meum lene est et sarcina mea levis est.' For that form of the text (lene and sarcina [for onus]), see 9.1.1, 10.36.58, and 13.15.17; elsewhere he varied between lene and leve (Milne 36).
iugum: Also (with this allusion) at 8.2.3, 9.1.1, 10.36.58, 13.15.17; other phrases of Mt. 11.29-30: 7.9.14, 7.21.27. But G-M rightly say that the Roman military metaphor is behind that phrase.
provincialis: originally = civilian, as opposed to miles (so here, layperson vs. monk or cleric or merely devout Christian); s. 351.3.5 (391, but authenticity disputed: see Verbraken), `sed si hoc [i.e., cotidianam habere paenitentiam debent] dispensatores verbi dei et ministri sacramentorum eius, milites Christi; quanto magis cetera stipendiaria multitudo, et quaedam provincia magni regis? . . . quanto ergo magis ecclesiae provinciales, saecularibus negotiis obligati, cotidianam debent agere paenitentiam?' Cf. ep. 157.4.37, `habet enim ecclesia quodam modo suos milites et quodam modo provinciales, . . . habet vineam et plantatores, habet gregem et pastores'; op. mon. 15.16, 23.27 (`regis aeterni devotissimi provinciales'), en. Ps. 49.15, 90. s. 1.10, 103. s. 3.9 (`provincialis Christi es'), 125.15, Io. ev. tr. 13.17, 122.3, s. 302.17.15. Cf. S. Poque, Le langage symbolique 60-64; G. Lawless, Homo Spiritalis (Festschrift L. Verheijen: Würzburg, 1987), 283-284.
Paulus vocari amavit: spir. et litt. 7.12, `ideo Paulus Apostolus, qui, cum Saulus prius vocaretur. non ob aliud, quantum mihi videtur, hoc nomen elegit, nisi ut se ostenderet parvum tamquam minimum apostolorum' (quoted above). A., and/or the tradition on which he draws, is probably influenced not only by a love of etymology but by the name change of Peter.
gratius: adjective, not adverb (J. le Clercq, PL 47.209).
pectus (cf. `lingua'): See on 3.4.7, `Ciceronis, cuius linguam fere omnes mirantur, pectus non ita'; the distinction is again between the source of speech and the tongue as the instrument of speech. The asyndeton of `pectus' and `lingua' as subjects of `cogitabatur' is a little jarring.
alligavit fortem: Cf. Mt. 12.29, `aut quomodo potest quisquam intrare in domum fortis et vasa eius diripere nisi prius alligaverit fortem'; en. Ps. 73.18, `ipse est fortis, de virtute sua praesumens, et deum deserens; . . . siccentur flumina eorum; non proficiant doctrinae gentium, haruspicum, mathematicorum, magicae artes; . . . arescat illa doctrina; inundentur mentes evangelio veritatis.' en. Ps. 67.16, `alligavit ergo diabolum Christus spiritalibus vinculis; . . . alligavit eum sacramento incarnationis suae, quod nihil in eo reperiens morte dignum, tamen est permissus occidere.' Sim. at en. Ps. 34. s. 1.15, 47.3, and 58. s. 1.6.
vasa eius: en. Ps. 58. s. 1.6, `erant enim omnes iniqui vasa diaboli, qui credentes facti sunt vasa Christi.'
fieri utilia . . . bonum: 2 Tim. 2.21, `si quis ergo emundaverit se ab istis, erit vas in honorem sanctificatum, et utile domino ad omne opus bonum paratum' (in a chapter of 2 Tim. that begins, 2.3, `labora sicut bonus miles Christi Iesu').
text of 8.5.10
Bk. 8 is pre-eminently the book of voluntas. A. Dihle, The Theory of the Will in Classical Antiquity (Berkeley, 1982), largely confirms the traditional view that A. `invented' the notion of `will' that thrives in later western philosophy, and traces (Dihle 132-44) the influence on A.'s notion of the Latin vocabulary he had to work with. His discussion of A.'s own view approaches, but does not explain, the prominence voluntas has in this book: Dihle 128, `Sensuality itself is by no means the cause of evil, as the Manicheans believed. It was present already in the original, undistorted condition of man, but firmly controlled by his undistorted will. Everything depends on whether the will of man is directed to spirit (spiritus) or flesh (caro), i.e. to the more or less valuable.7 . . . Cupiditas or libido (e)piqumi/a), ambitio or superbia (filarxi/a, filotimi/a), and curiositas (fantasi/a) do not result, as the neo-Platonists believed, from a misconception of reality but from the perverted will (mala voluntas). The neo-Platonic idea of the separation of an individual being from the order of being (i)di/wsis) was explained in terms of will. Evil as the mere privatio boni, the absence of good, . . . was replaced by ill will without, however, attributing substance to evil, as the Manicheans did.'
A difficulty is that conventional discussions of the `will' in Platonism and in A. concentrate on the `freedom' of the will (hence there is nothing relevant here in TeSelle, Burnaby, G. R. Evans [Augustine on Evil (Cambridge, 1982)], or C. N. Cochrane [Christianity and Classical Culture (Oxford, 1939)]). The most interesting discussion is J. M. Rist, Plotinus (Toronto, 1967), 136-137: `The great difference between Plotinus and Christian thinkers, which it has become fashionable to trace to Plotinus' alleged lack of interest in or ignorance of the rôle of free will, is to be traced to the nature of Platonic knowledge and, more fundamentally, to Plotinus' optimistic view of human capabilities. When man is produced in the Plotinian world, he is a being capable, produced capable, of returning to his origins, of attaining o(moi/wsis qew=|. He can attain it because part of his soul has not fallen, has not been swamped by the passions, but remains above in the Intelligible World. . . . Freedom then for Plotinus is not simply equivalent to the power of choice. Rather it is freedom from that necessity of choice which the passions impose.'
There is much in that to which A. would agree, but it is far from clear whether A. understood Plotinus that well. His discussions of the nature of the passiones/perturbationes (cf. civ. 9.4-8, and see on 10.14.22) make it clear that he finds the ideal passionlessness of the philosophers unattainable, and he thinks that the philosopher's version of salvation is only possible for the passionless. He interposes (e.g., at civ. 14.6) the role of voluntas as an escape: it does not matter whether you suffer passiones or not, it matters how your will deals with them. That is not Plotinus. The philosophers and the gnostics together share the opinion that right knowledge is the key to salvation; Bk. 8 is A.'s personal testimony that the will remains to be mastered.
The emergence of the topic in A. is instructive. Neither at Cassiciacum nor in the first works afterwards does the will as explanation of evil play a noticeable part. It emerges abruptly to prominence as the theme of lib. arb. (begun at Rome 387/8, finished at Hippo 391-395/7--though much of the work was doubtless written c. 391, the process of revision and completion remains opaque to us, so that it is not certain that anything in lib. arb. can be assigned confidently to the earlier period); more remarkably, the first concise statement of the responsibility of the will for evil is juxtaposed with a remarkable and little-attended outline of the contents of conf. through Bk. 8 discussed in the prolegomena (lib. arb. 1.12.22). The general principle is at lib. arb. 1.11.21, `nulla res alia mentem cupiditatis comitem faciat quam propria voluntas et liberum arbitrium.' The narrative pattern that evolves into conf. thus emerges side by side with the identification of the voluntas as the decisive factor in determining the fate of the individual--an identification that marks a distinct philosophical advance and an important differentiation from neo-Platonism.
exarsi: Usually of similarly divine enthusiasm (as at 10.27.38); see on 2.1.1.
ad imitandum: Courcelle, Les Confessions 66n1, takes this to mean only that A. was inclined to follow V. in becoming a formal member of the catholic church. This requires a distinction between the decision for continence and the decision for baptism that A. does not himself make.
imperatoris Iuliani: c. ep. Parm. 1.12.19, `Iulianus, cui pax et unitas christiana nimium displicebat, quandoquidem ipsa ei unde impie ceciderat religio displiceret'; J. is proverbially non-Christian (as at ep. 91.8) and already `apostata' (c. litt. Pet. 2.97.224, civ. 5.21, ep. 105.2.10), mainly invoked to embarrass the Donatists (e.g., c. litt. Pet. 2.92.203-208, 2.97.224) for the encouragement they enjoyed during his regime.
lege data prohibiti: Julian, ep. 61. (Bidez [422a - 424a]), a law of dubious merit even to the emperor's supporters: Amm. Marc. 22.10.7, `obruendum perenni silentio'; civ. 18.52, `an ipse non est ecclesiam persecutus, qui christianos liberales litteras docere ac discere vetuit?'
loquacem: Sign of curiosity and indiscretion, esp. of Manichees (1.4.4, 3.6.10, 5.7.12, 5.9.17, 7.2.3), but also of rhetoricians (4.2.2, 9.2.2): the two categories embrace the past A. abandoned at Milan.
deserere maluit: There is no sign until now in the narrative that abandonment of the teaching career was a possibility for A., but this detail in the narrative of Simplicianus, emphasized by its repetition here, suggests that the thought that baptism and teaching were incompatible, at least for A., though they had not been so for V. except under the special circumstances of Julian's reign. (Julian's position was closer to that of puritanical Christians than the latter liked to admit.)
linguas . . . disertas: Wisd. 10.21, `linguas infantium facit disertas'; cf. Ps. 8.3, `ex ore infantium et lactantium perfecisti laudem' (quoted at Mt. 21.16, `Iesus . . . dicit . . . numquam legistis, [Ps. 8.3] . . .?'). Courcelle, Les Confessions 86n1, connects to 8.2.3, `revelatam parvulis', and 8.2.3, `ut per baptismum regeneraretur'; cf. also 8.2.3, `puer Christi tui et infans fontis tui'.
ferrea voluntate: Ps. 2.9, `reges eos in virga ferrea'; en. Ps. 2.8, `in inflexibili iustitia'. Sim. at Apoc. 2.27, 12.5, 19.15.
velle : see on 13.11.12; cf. Rom. 7.18 (quoted in div. qu. Simp., cited below).
catenam: See on 8.6.13.
libido: See BA 14.537-542, `libido et consuetudo d'après Augustin.' mend. 7.10, `libido . . . appetitus animi quo aeternis bonis quaelibet temporalia praeponuntur'; civ. 14.16, `cum sint igitur multarum libidines rerum, tamen cum libido dicitur neque cuius rei libido sit additur, non fere adsolet occurrere animo nisi illa qua obscenae corporis partes excitantur.' The will is capable of restraining libido (s. 128.10.12--which amounts to saying that libido is not identical with voluntas), and is even independent of concupiscentia carnis (as in the case of impotence: civ. 14.16); libido was absent in paradise (numerous citations at BA 14.540), but now the sexual organs cannot be aroused without it (civ. 14.19-20; cf. grat. et pecc. or. 2.34.39, nupt. et conc. 1.22.24, 1.24.27).
consuetudo: div. qu. Simp. 1.1.10-11, `illud est ex poena originalis peccati, hoc ex poena frequentati peccati; cum illo in hanc vitam nascimur, hoc vivendo addimus. quae duo scilicet tamquam natura et consuetudo coniuncta robustissimam faciunt et invictissimam cupiditatem, quod vocat peccatum et dicit habitare in carne sua, id est dominatum quendam et quasi regnum obtinere. . . . (11) velle enim, inquit, adiacet mihi, perficere autem bonum non. [Rom. 7.18] . . . non enim quod vult facit bonum qui nondum est sub gratia, sed quod non vult malum hoc agit superante concupiscentia non solum vinculo mortalitatis sed mole consuetudinis roborata.' Sim. at c. Fel. 2.8 (also reading Rom. 7.18), and the development at the end of A.'s life at c. Iul. imp. 4.103 is similar. For A.'s earlier reading of Romans 7-8, before the impetus of div. qu. Simp. see div. qu. 66-67, exp. prop. Rom. 12 (13-18), div. qu. 40 and 70, and Gal. exp. 46 and 48; see on 7.21.27, `condelectetur', and see for Rom. 7 generally M. F. Berrouard, RA 16(1981), 101-196. There is still optimism to the analysis at s. dom. m. 1.12.34: `delectatio . . . quae adsiduis factis in consuetudinem vertit. hanc enim vincere difficillimum est. et tamen etiam ipsam consuetudinem, si se quisque non deserat et christianam militiam non reformidet, illo duce atque adiutore superabit'. On consuetudo as taken here (and with Pauline references), the earliest treatment is f. et symb. 10.23. Consuetudo in this sense in conf.: 3.8.16, 6.12.22, 7.17.23, `et pondus hoc consuetudo carnalis' (cf. 10.40.65, `recido in haec aerumnosis ponderibus . . . tantum consuetudinis sarcina digna est!' : see on 13.9.10), 8.5.11, 8.5.12, 8.7.18, 8.9.21, 8.11.26. It appears a number of times besides referring to `social custom' as opposed to law, even to excuse misconduct; also at 9.8.17-18, of Monnica's childhood drinking habit.
A study of consuetudo in three prominent and significant discussions in A. (vera rel. [where the subject is another landmark separating vera rel. from the earlier works], conf., c. Iul. imp.) is J. G. Prendiville, Traditio 28(1972), 29-99 (discussion of conf. at 57-83). For conf. he is good in collecting texts (esp. sermons) that illustrate A.'s attacks on consuetudo among his congregation (e.g., s. dom. m. 1.17.51, on the habit of swearing [and cf. s. 307.4.5, where A. recounts his own struggle against and victory over the habit of swearing], or s. 9.9.12, on sins against the commandment against adultery); on the utility of the notion against Manichean determinism (Prendiville 64-71); and on the consonance with A.'s new reading of Paul (Prendiville 74-81).
necessitas: in this sense unbiblical (in scripture, the sense is usually `time of need, crisis').
dura servitus: The epithet is crucial; contrast en. Ps. 99.7, `libera servitus, ubi non necessitas, sed caritas servit.'
te gratis colerem: Job 1.9 (VL), `respondens diabolus domino dixit, numquid gratis colit Iob dominum? non tu circumsaepsisti . . . omnia in circuitu eius?'
colerem: The verb from Rom. 1.25 (see on 7.9.14), now redirected to God. The verb does not require us to think of liturgical acts, but certainly fits cult initiation.
frui: See on 7.17.23.
duae voluntates meae: A careful formulation, to defeat the Manichean notion of two animae (duab. an. passim): explicit at 8.10.22.
vetus . . . nova: Eph. 4.22, 24, Col. 3.9-10.
carnalis . . . spiritalis: Rom. 7.14, `scimus enim quod lex spiritalis est; ego autem carnalis sum, venumdatus sub peccato.'
confligebant: Cf. Rom. 7.16-17, `si autem, quod nolo, illud facio, consentio legi quoniam bona. (17) nunc autem iam non ego operor illud, sed, quod habitat in me peccatum.'
dissipabant: 1.3.3 (Is. 11.12 quoted in notes there), `nec tu dissiparis sed conligis nos'; 1.18.28 (evoking the prodigal), `ut in longinqua regione vivens prodige dissiparet quod dederas proficiscenti'; 4.16.30 (also of the prodigal), 6.11.18, 8.10.22.
text of 8.5.11
It is hard to admit that this struggle could be a real one for A., and easy to refuse to face the issues involved--and we have an excuse, for A.'s powerful discretion is in control throughout this book, in which he avoids even moderately explicit language until 8.11.26. A. felt, rightly or wrongly, that his fate depended on his ability, his willingness, to say `Yes' to God, and he took as the sign he could give of that `Yes' his willingness, his ability, to put out of his life, at age 31, the active sexuality that had been a constant for half his life. That through much of this period his sexual experiences had been accompanied by a strong sense of wrongness does not in any way reduce the difficulty he felt in facing this choice. Rather the opposite, for he could easily feel that he had long struggled and sought to change his life, and had failed to do so as inveterate habit exercised its power. He had found Ambrose's celibacy anomalous (6.3.3).
With discretion waved aside, of course, a passage like the present one is--to our taste--embarrassing in its intimacy, and the mind rushes off to contemplate other, less unsettling, facets of the work. Discretion was the protection A. allowed himself.
me ipso: Löfstedt, Symb. Osl. 56(1981), 107, follows Labriolle and one minor manuscript by inserting in before `me ipso', finding its omission `unentbehrlich'.
quomodo caro: Gal. 5.17, `caro enim concupiscit adversus spiritum, spiritus autem adversus carnem.' Theiler, P.u.A. 65, emphasizes that this verse does not occur in the earliest A. (quoted together with Rom. 7.23-25: see next paragraph) until c. Fort. 21. (392) (where it occurs alone at lib. arb. 3.18.51 it is probably part of the completion of that work c. 395). Whether we assert with Theiler that the verse is un-Porphyrian, its appearance obviously marks A.'s contact with a side of Paul that would influence him from the 390s onward.
This is the first place in Bk. 8 where A. identifies a particular passage in Paul that he had been reading.
ego quidem in utroque: Since for A. the velle and the `self' are nearly identical (see on 7.3.5), if he was acting invitus, to just that extent it was not entirely he that was acting. Not everyone knows this particular alienation. It must not have been new to A., and there we can see something of the way Manicheism appealed to him: it gave a name to that Other in himself, and an explanation for its power.
ex magna parte: Cf. Rom. 7.16-17, quoted on 8.5.10. At div. qu. Simp. 1.1.1, A. still takes the position that Rom. 7.7-25 is written in the persona of `hominem sub lege positum'; by making those words his own here and in 8.5.11 and 8.10.22, A. depicts himself in that same condition, looking for a grace that will liberate him from concupiscence. This reading of Paul would not endure: see again Berrouard, RA 16(1981), 101-196. retr. 1.23.1 and 2.1.1 document the change, dating from the anti-Pelagian period, to a more pessimistic view, according to which this grim passage of Paul is indeed the testimony of the `spiritalis homo' who has already passed from the law to grace.
quoniam . . . perveneram: 7.3.5, `quod audiebam, liberum voluntatis arbitrium causam esse ut male faceremus' : at the outset of Bk. 7, that view posed a difficulty, beginning to be solved intellectually; but cf. the anticipation of Bk. 8 contained in 7.21.27, `arripui . . . Paulum, et perierunt illae quaestiones.' Reading Paul removed the intellectual difficulty; if that were all that were at issue, Bk. 8 and the anguish it records would have been superfluous.
contempto saeculo: 8.7.18, `contempta spe saeculi', where a new uncertainty (not intellectual but moral: contrast the next clause) rises up in paradox to plague him.
militare tibi: Cf. 2 Tim. 2.3-4, `conlabora sicut bonus miles Christi Iesu. (4) nemo militans implicat se saeculi negotiis.'
et impedimentis . . . timendum est: There is symmetry in his disorder: his fear of freedom was exactly the fear he should have shown in the face of his slavery.
text of 8.5.12
sarcina: See on 4.7.12.
quibus meditabar in te: Ps. 62.7, `si memoratus sum tui super stratum meum, in diluculis meditabar in te, quia factus es adiutor meus'; en. Ps. 62.15, `in actionibus suis in deum meditatur. diluculum enim dixit actiones, quia omnis homo diluculo incipit aliquid agere' (cf. here `conatibus expergisci volentium', of struggling to awaken: the morning imagery is carried on in en. Ps. 62.15 with Rom. 13.13 [8.12.29]). Cf. 7.14.20, `evigilavi in te'; see also on 4.15.26, for the mystical sense of conari.
differt . . . excutere: Rom. 13.11, `et hoc scientes tempus, quia hora est iam vos de somno surgere' [--> 8.12.29].
certum: Here the certainty is moral; see on 8.1.1.
caritati . . . cupiditati: doctr. chr. 3.10.16, `caritatem voco motum animi ad fruendum deo propter ipsum et se atque proximo propter deum; cupiditatem autem motum animi ad fruendum se et proximo et quolibet corpore non propter deum.'
surge qui dormis: Eph. 5.14, `omne enim quod manifestatur lumen est. propter quod dicit, surge qui dormis et exsurge a mortuis et inluminabit te Christus.' Cf. Is. 60.1, `surge, inluminare, Hierusalem, quia venit lumen tuum et gloria domini super te orta est.'
in longum ibat: Hensellek, Anzeiger Akad. Wien 114(1977), 166, quotes: c. acad. 3.4.9, `ne verba verbis referendo . . . in longum eamus', 3.3.6, `disiunctissimos nos esse et in longum progressos video', sol. 2.17.31.
frustra condelectabar: The reflections begun by hearing the story of Victorinus have moved, not surprisingly, on lines suggested by the Pauline texts A. was reading at the time. The train of thought has moved inexorably from the issue of church membership back to the issue of continence. In 8.6.13, we return to narrative for the next decisive step. The language echoes Rom. 7.22-25 (text from first book of div. qu. Simp.): `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. (24) miser ego homo, quis me liberabit de corpore mortis huius? (25) gratia dei per Iesum Christum dominum nostrum.'
consuetudinis: See on 8.5.10.
etiam invitus: With these words, the MS C is again available (defective since 7.6.9).
invitus . . . volens: Cf. 8.5.11, `volens' 2x, making exactly the same point; and `invitus' joined with it in the first instance.
text of 8.6.13
The college of friends first identified at 6.7.11 is reconstituted, with the addition of Verecundus. V. will be important for offering Cassiciacum to A. and for his own conversion (9.3.5); Nebridius was always important to A., but strictly he too is superfluous here to the immediate narrative, since only Alypius will share the garden scene.
vinculo . . . servitute: By the chain he is actively binding himself--it is the source of his two-mindedness; by the servitude he is held now only indirectly; the second bond will fall away when the first is loosed. (This paragraph is a second preface to the book, and closely parallels 8.1.2, `non iam inflammantibus cupiditatibus . . . spe honoris et pecuniae . . . sed adhuc tenaciter conligabar ex femina'). Knauer 34-35 displays graphically the artistry of rhythm in the presentation.
vinculo: 3.1.1, `et perveni occulte ad vinculum fruendi', 3.8.16, 6.12.22, 7.7.11, `iam itaque me, adiutor meus, illis vinculis solveras' (the chains have changed, but `adiutor' here is consistently associated with the image), 8.11.25, 9.1.1, `dirupisti vincula mea', 9.3.5, 9.12.32; see esp. en. Ps. 106.15, `et conligatum vinculis consuetudinis solvit et liberavit'; numerous other parallels, e.g., en. Ps. 101. s. 2.3, 106.5, 108.17.
narrabo: Of A.'s own act in confessing here at 2.3.5, 8.1.1 (another parallel between the two halves of the book), and 11.1.1.
confitebor: Ps. 53.8, `confitebor nomini tuo, domine, quoniam bonum est'; 2.7.15, 5.1.1.
domine, adiutor meus et redemptor meus: Ps. 18.15, `et meditatio cordis mei in conspectu tuo semper, domine, adiutor meus et redemptor meus.'
otiosus ab opere: For the construction, see Hensellek Anzeiger Akad. Wien 114(1977), 155, and cf. c. acad. 2.4.10, `septem fere diebus a disputando fuimus otiosi'.
post adsessionem tertiam: At 6.10.16 (Al. on leaving Rome), `ter iam adsederat'; so here in 386 he had been unsuccessful in finding employment in Milan.
venderet . . . vendebam: Neither law nor rhetoric were thought of as `trade', hence the metaphor demeans these activities.
subdoceret: The subdoctor was a humble figure from the pages of Ausonius: prof. Burd. 22 (`Victorio subdoctori sive proscholo'), lines 17-20, `exili nostrae fucatus honore cathedrae, libato tenuis nomine grammatici . . . transieras.' Nebridius was working beneath his station, for A. knew another proscholus at Milan whom he characterizes (s. 178.7.8) as `pauperrimus homo, tam pauper ut proscholus esset grammatici: sed plane christianus, quamvis ille esset paganus grammaticus.' The subdoctor may be glimpsed hard at work in a (probably contemporary) newly discovered text: A. C. Dionisotti, JRS 72(1982), 101, line 40, `iubente praeceptore surgunt minores ad syllabas, et nos recitamus dictatum et versus ad subdoctorem.' The words `ad subdoctorem' are not in the Greek version of the same text. (The verb occurs in an apparently congruent sense at Cic. Att. 8.4.1.)
non . . . cupiditas commodorum: Nebridius has now been shown immune to all three temptations: concupiscentia carnis (4.3.6, `valde bonus et valde castus'), concupiscentia oculorum (4.3.6, `inridens totum illud divinationis', and 7.2.3 [offering the decisive argument against the Manichees]), and ambitio saeculi (here). N.'s error (9.3.6) was theological, docetism, and he escaped from that because he was `inquisitor ardentissimus veritatis' (9.3.6).
posset . . . vellet: imperfect for pluperfect (see Arts 106-107 for other examples in conf.)
secundum hoc saeculum: Eph. 2.2, `[peccata vestra] in quibus aliquando ambulastis secundum saeculum mundi huius.'
text of 8.6.14
ecce: 8.12.29, `et ecce audio vocem'; see on 1.5.5, but in Bk. 8, these two occurrences are the only ones not in direct discourse (where they are a device for the written representation of spoken style). In these two cases, they heighten the urgency and vividness of the narrative (and indirectly show the importance of the present passage).
Ponticianus: Not known otherwise. If constantly at court, he would have been in Milan since 381, upon the removal of the court from Trier (Courcelle, Recherches 181). PLRE 1 s.v. infers from `contubernales' (8.6.15) that he too must have been an agens in rebus; c. 381 Symmachus recommended `familiaris meus Ponticianus' to Syagrius (Symm. ep. 1.99), and a man of the same name carries a letter for Symmachus to Magnillus (Symm. ep. 5.32). Dates of those letters are uncertain, but it is not impossible that P., like A., was at court as a beneficiary of Symm.'s patronage.
praeclare in palatio militans: Ponticianus is good at telling conversion stories, but he is himself on the high road to secular glory; at the same time, as Mandouze 195n9 remarks, for someone in office to speak this way would probably have greater effect on A., still impressed by such people.
lusoriam: L. Rothfield, Comp. Lit. 33(1981), 219 thinks that the placing of the codex on the gaming table `cannot be taken as mere chance'; sim. in K. F. Morrison, I Am Thou (Princeton, 1988), 72-81. The converted A. disapproves highly of games (and they are redolent of curiositas: 1.10.16, `in spectacula [see on 3.2.2], ludos maiorum'), but for the moment his gaming past and his Pauline future are juxtaposed; the juxtaposition recurs, slightly more loosely, at 8.12.29, when it is apparently a child's game (`in aliquo genere ludendi') that inspires A. to pick up the codex of Paul again.
tulit, aperuit, invenit: The same codex handled in virtually the same words at 8.12.29 (`arripui, aperui et legi') frames the episode.
fidelis: See on 2.3.6: not therefore a polite epithet for Ponticianus' sincerity, but a way of specifying that he had taken the step, baptism, that A. was deferring.
de Antonio Aegyptio monacho: For the role he is given in Bk. 8, Antony is astonishingly invisible in A. Apart from these appearances (here, 8.6.15, and 8.12.29), the only other mention is doctr. chr. pr. 4, `[Antonius] sine ulla scientia litterarum scripturas divinas et memoriter audiendo tenuisse et prudenter cogitando intellexisse praedicatur'. The vita Antonii (b. 250, d. 356) had been translated into Latin by Jerome's friend Evagrius (dates suggested have ranged from before 368 to about 388: recent scholars, e.g., Courcelle, Recherches ed. 2, 266, think it was ready by 371/3); though it was not the first such version, it was designed to appeal to a cultured audience and is more likely to have been known to A., if only indirectly.8 For it is far from clear whether A. ever read it himself; see P. Monceaux, MA 2.61-89.
stupebamus: Also at 4.4.8 (A. on his dying friend's reaction to baptism), 4.14.21 (marveling at the versatility of Hierius), 5.3.4 (`mirantur haec [i.e., the predictions of astronomers] homines et stupent qui nesciunt ea'), 6.12.22 (3x of Alypius' attitude towards sex), 8.12.28 (Alypius' attitude to A.'s histrionics in the garden), 9.11.28 (bystanders reaction to Monnica's view `de contemptu vitae huius et bono mortis'), 10.8.15 (A.'s reverence for the power of memory), 11.31.41. In every case except 8.12.28, some derivative of miror (the verb itself or a compound, participle, or derived noun) occurs juxtaposed in the same passage.
mirabilia tua: Ps. 144.6, `et mirabilia tua enarrabunt [generatio et generatio]'; Ps. 70.17, `et usque nunc pronuntiabo mirabilia tua'; Ps. 74.2, `narrabimus mirabilia tua' : frequent (Knauer 60n2).
in fide recta et catholica ecclesia: i.e., holding the correct doctrines and engaged in the common cult.
text of 8.6.15
A.'s earliest discussion of monasticism is mor. 1.31.65-68. Probably written in Italy in 388, it presents a view he acquired after the conversation reported here. He first takes a rhetorical stance inconsistent with the ignorance portrayed here: mor. 1.31.65, `quis enim nescit summae continentiae hominum christianorum multitudinem per totum orbem in dies magis magisque diffundi, et in oriente maxime atque Aegypto, quod vos nullo modo potest latere.' At 1.31.67 he describes monks, `qui contemptis atque desertis mundi huius inlecebris, in communem vitam castissimam sanctissimamque congregati, simul aetatem agunt, viventes in orationibus, in lectionibus, in disputationibus.' On the development of A.'s views, and notably the composition of his `Rule' more or less contemporary with conf., see now Lawless, Rule.
A.'s naivete is not surprising in one coming from Africa, where monks were so infrequently met with that Donatists held them in suspicion and regarded them rather as A. regarded circumcellions (c. litt. Pet. 3.40.48, `deinceps perrexit ore maledico in vituperationem monasteriorum et monachorum, arguens etiam me quod hoc genus vitae a me fuerit institutum'); en. Ps. 132.3, `quando vos recte haereticis de circellionibus insultare coeperitis, ut erubescendo salventur; illi vobis insultant de monachis'; sim. at en. Ps. 132.6, Io. ev. tr. 97.4 (defending the neologism). There is an old quarrel whether monasticism in Africa preceded A., and no resolution is in sight. There were ascetic men and women before him, but his presence, guidance, and example gave them a self-consciousness, and perhaps even a new name, that they had not had before.
This passage has given rise to a special discussion not directly relevant to conf.: Courcelle, Recherches 183-187, identified one of the two agentes with Jerome and made the other Jerome's friend Bonosus. C.'s best evidence is Hier. ep. 3.5 (of Bonosus), `scis ipse [Christe], . . . cum post Romana studia ad Rheni semibarbaras ripas eodem cibo, pari frueremur hospitio, ut ego primus coeperim velle te colere. memento, quaeso, istum bellatorem tuum mecum quondam fuisse tironem. . . . cum ego voverim, ille perfecerit.' He and Bonosus were indeed at Trier in the early 370s. There are other coincidences, not least pleasing that J.'s first work, the vita Pauli, dates from 375 and draws upon the vita Antonii (indeed provides a firm terminus ante quem for Evagrius' version). But A. never identifies J. with these converts, either in conf. or later. Courcelle, Recherches 186n5, suggests the reticence is explained by the chill in relations between A. and J.: but to make no mention of it in letters? not to send J. a copy of conf.? Jerome's most recent biographer, J. N. D. Kelly, Jerome (London, 1975), 30, speaks of `this brilliant but improbable guess'. A.'s words at 8.8.19, `surgunt indocti et caelum rapiunt', speak against the identification (so Theiler reviewing Courcelle, Recherches, at Gnomon 25, 122); Mandouze 115n9 holds out hope for the guess if the plural includes Antony and/or his other disciples east and west.
inde: From the story of Antony.
ubera deserta: oxymoron.
monasterium Mediolanii: mor. 1.33.70, `vidi ego diversorium sanctorum Mediolanii, non paucorum hominum, quibus unus presbyter praeerat vir optimus et doctissimus.' Of this monastery we know otherwise only that Ambrose mentions (ep. 63.7-9 and exp. Ps. 36.49) two of its monks, Sarmation and Barbatianus, who were influenced by Jovinian and left the monastery; but ord. 2.10.29, `bonos autem viros deditosque optimis moribus', may be a hint of A.'s new awareness (so Alfaric 442n3, followed by Mayer, Zeichen 1.157). Mandouze 198n7 takes this ignorance as evidence of distant relations between A. and Ambrose at this time (as do others eager to emphasize that apparent distance).
Treveros Treveros C2 D Maur. Knöll Skut. Ver.: Treberos G O S
In the ordo urbium nobilium of Ausonius (written c. 388/9), Trier comes sixth, after Rome, Constantinople, Carthage, Antioch, Alexandria, and just ahead of Milan. The circus may have been in operation over half a century later, but the evidence for that may be slightly outdated (Salvian, gub. dei 6.15.85). The hermits camped outside the city with a copy of the vita Antonii probably owe something to the time Athanasius spent in exile there, 335-337.
hortos: Cf. below, `alias horti partes'; this conversion of two friends, one of whom sits by in a garden while his friend reads an inspirational codex and then joins his decision, is another model for what happens to A. and Alypius. Other parallels noted below.
spiritu pauperes: Mt. 5.3, `beati pauperes spiritu, quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum.'
vita Antonii: Athanasius, vita Antonii 2 [the `versio Evagrii' from PG 26.841-4], `talia secum volvens, intravit in ecclesiam, et accidit ut tunc evangelium legeretur, in quo dominus dicit ad divitem: si vis perfectus esse, vade et vende omnia tua quaecumque habes, et da pauperibus, et veni, sequere me, et habebis thesaurum in caelis. quo audito, quasi divinitus [cf. 8.12.29] huiusmodi ante memoriam concepisset et veluti propter se haec esset scriptura recitata, ad se dominicum traxit imperium: statimque [n.b. statim twice in 8.12.29] egressus, possessiones quas habebat vendidit.' The earlier version (ed. H. Hoppenbrouwers, La plus ancienne version latine de la vie de S. Antoine [Nijmegen, 1960]) does not offer either of the two verbal resemblances to conf. that are marked here.
accendi: See on 8.4.9.
arripere: See on 8.12.29.
iratus sibi: Cf. Ps. 4.5, `irascimini et nolite peccare'; en. Ps. 4.6, `agite paenitentiam; id est, irascimini vobis ipsis de praeteritis peccatis, et ulterius peccare desinite.'
quid quaerimus?: 8.8.19, `quid patimur?'
amici imperatoris: A recognized but unofficial term; Courcelle, Recherches 182n2, and for details F. Millar, The Emperor in the Roman World (London, 1977), 110-122. See s. 86.10.11 (on Mt. 19.21), `si in palatio militaret filius tuus, et amicus imperatoris fieret, et diceret tibi, vende ibi partem meam, et mitte mihi, numquid invenires quid responderes?' Without documentation, C. Lepelley, Atti-1986 1.113, limits the group to the high office-holders, inlustres, and spectabiles of the senate at this period.
amicus . . . dei: Jas. 2.23, `credidit Abraham deo et deputatum est illi ad iustitiam [Gn. 15.6] et amicus dei appellatus est'; Jdt. 8.22, `memores esse debent, quomodo pater noster Abraham temptatus est, et per multas tribulationes probatus, dei amicus effectus est.' Cf. Gn. c. man. 1.2.4, `non autem quisquam efficitur amicus dei nisi purgatissimis moribus.' The phrase has a long and diverse history: on classical, OT, NT, and early Christian appearances, see E. Peterson, Zschr. für Kirchengesch. 43(1923), 161-202.
turbidus: 8.8.19, `turbulentissima'.
reddidit . . . intus: 6.3.3, `oculi ducebantur per paginas', 8.12.29, `legi in silentio'.
ait amico suo: 8.12.29, `indicavi Alypio'.
abrupi: 8.11.25, `versans me in vinculo meo, donec abrumperetur totum, quo iam exiguo tenebar.'
ex hac hora: 8.12.28, `hac hora'.
respondit ille adhaerere se socium: 8.12.30, `Alypius, sine ulla turbulenta cunctatione coniunctus est'.
aedificabant turrem: Lk. 14.28-33, `quis enim ex vobis volens turrem aedificare, non prius sedens computat sumptus, si habet ad perficiendum? . . . (33) sic ergo omnis ex vobis, qui non renuntiat omnibus quae possidet non potest meus esse discipulus.' qu. ev. 2.31, `sumptus ad turrem aedificandam vires ad discipulatum Christi obtinendum, . . . turrem quippe aedificare . . . esse discipulum Christi est; habere autem sumptus ad perficiendam turrem . . . renuntiare est omnibus quae sunt eius [diaboli]'; cf. s. Den. 17.2, `turris fides, patientia sumptus sunt'.
relinquendi omnia sua et sequendi te: Cf. also Mt. 19.27, `Petrus . . . ecce nos reliquimus omnia et secuti sumus te.' Lk. 5.11, `relictis omnibus [retibus et navibus] secuti sunt illum'; Lk. 5.28, `et relictis omnibus, surgens secutus est eum.'
deambulabat deambulabat O1 Ver. Isnenghi (who thinks that the archetype may already have been in error): deambulabant C D G O2 S Knöll Skut.
iam declinasset dies: Lk. 9.12, `dies autem coeperat declinare', Lk. 24.29, `quoniam advesperascit et inclinata est iam dies.'
narrato: 8.12.30, `narramus quemadmodum gestum sit'.
placito . . . firmata: 8.12.30, `firmatus est placitoque ac proposito'.
nihilo nihilo C D G Maur. Ver.: nihil S Knöll Skut.
habebant ambo sponsas: Implicit criticism of the collapse of the earlier attempt to retire to contemplate leisure (6.14.24), approval of A.'s broken engagement (6.13.23).
text of 8.7.16
Mandouze 468, speaking for many readers moved by this passage: `Quel psychanalyste a jamais donné du complexe d'aliénation une définition qui, dans sa brièveté, soit tout ensemble aussi exacte et aussi colorée?' Does M. mean that he has read widely in the psychoanalytic literature and has found nothing better than this? Or does he mean, why bother reading the psychoanalysts to find out what they mean by `alienation', when this passage expresses the subject perfectly well?
narrabat: We pass from outside to inside; Ponticianus goes on telling his story (`narrabat ille quod narrabat') and we are now shown A. s reaction (through 8.7.18: Mandouze 198n5).
tu autem, domine: See Knauer 32/32n2 on use of this phrase introducing an `Abschnitt'.
auferens me a dorso meo: See on 2.3.6 for the interpretation of Jer. 2.27. The sense here is, `In the way in which I had been a pagan, you compelled me to cease being a pagan: I then had before me a choice that I had been pretending all along that I did not have. Making the choice was not easy; but the first stage was getting to the point where I had the choice to make.' Cf. lib. arb. 2.16.43 (see at 10.34.53), `vae qui se avertunt a lumine tuo et obscuritati suae dulciter inhaerent! tamquam enim dorsum ad te ponentes in carnali opera velut in umbra sua defiguntur'. Courcelle, Recherches 192n2, sees here an allusion to the Aesopian fable of the wallets (Phaedrus 4.10), but there is no verbal echo.
ante faciem meam: Cf. Ps. 49.21, `statuam te ante faciem tuam'; en. Ps. 49.28, `tolle te a tergo tuo, ubi te videre non vis, dissimulans a factis tuis, et constitue te ante te. ascende tribunal mentis tuae, esto tibi iudex, torqueat te timor, erumpat a te confessio, et dic deo tuo: quoniam iniquitatem meam ego agnosco, et delictum meum ante me est semper. [Ps. 50.5] quod erat post te, fiat ante te, ne tu ipse postea a deo iudice fias ante te, et non sit quo fugias a te' (cf. on `et quo a me . . .' below). See also on 5.6.11, `ante faciem meam'.
distortus . . . maculosus: Courcelle, Les Confessions 111n3, notes the parallel expression at Sen. ira 2.36.2, `animus . . . ater maculosusque et aestuans et distortus et tumidus'. But A. had small familiarity with Seneca (see on 5.6.11).
et quo a me fugerem non erat: See on 4.7.12, `fugeret'. Ps. 138.7, `quo ibo a spiritu tuo? et quo a facie tua fugiam?' en. Ps. 138.10, `ecce invenis in longinquo fugitivum non latere oculos eius a quo fugit. . . . locum quaerit quo fugiat ab ira dei. quis est locus recepturus fugitivum dei? . . . vertit se hac atque illac, quasi quaerens locum fugae suae.'
avertere a me avertere a me C D G O Ver.: a me avertere S Maur. Knöll Skut.
ut invenirem iniquitatem meam: Ps. 35.2-3, `dixit iniustus, ut delinquat in semetipso, non est timor dei ante oculos eius, (3) quoniam dolose egit in conspectu eius ut inveniret iniquitatem suam et odisset'; en. Ps. 35.3, `sunt enim homines qui quasi conantur quaerere iniquitatem suam, et timent illam invenire; quia si illum invenerint, dicitur illis: recedite ab illa; haec fecisti antequam scires, iniquitatem fecisti cum esses in ignorantia; dat deus veniam; modo cognovisti eam; dimitte illam ut possit facile ignorantiae tuae venia dari'.
The biblical echoes in this paragraph are marked by a consistent overtone of an unexpected change. Now A. was really unable to flee from himself (and knew it: when before he had thought it possible to flee); now A. really did find and hate his iniquity when before (as in the context of the Ps. 35.3) he had been insincere about it. The effect is to show how A., without changing, found himself compelled by the devices he had designed to avoid confronting the choice was now driven (by divine mercy) to face just that choice in just the way he had sought to avoid it. Note `noveram' following.
cohibebam: `I acquiesced': n.b. the reading con(n)ivebam in VZ, printed by the Louvain and Maurist eds. The interpretation comes from G-M, ignored by BA (`je repoussais'); but cf. Ryan (`I refused to look at it' [cohibebam sc. oculos]) and Pusey (`winked at it'). The problem is late antique orthography. A. uses what is recognizably CL cohibere (TLL 3.1545-8: the commonest sense in A. is `cohibere cupiditates' et sim.), but he (or his scribes) probably often spelled CL conivere (`to close the eyes, to turn a blind eye') in the confusing form c[omacr ]hibere: so TLL 4.320 (s.v. coniveo, with note `haud raro conhib-').
text of 8.7.17
Continentia, first on the table as an issue in Bk. 6 (6.7.12, 6.11.20), then absent in Bk. 7, now becomes the focus of the final struggle. But note how fleetingly it appears here, not to return until 8.11.26--and even there the language is exceedingly veiled and inexplicit. This retrospective view embraces all three temptations: concupiscentia carnis (`circumfluentibus corporis voluptatibus'), concupiscentia oculorum (`sola inquisitio'), ambitio saeculi (`thesauris regnisque gentium'). See on 8.1.2.
forte duodecim anni: A.'s nineteenth year (3.4.7) fell 372/3; twelve years later brings us to 384/5, A.'s time in Rome and his arrival in Milan, while all the other circumstances of this book lead to 386 culminating in the garden scene in August of that year; but allowance must be made for imprecision and the lure of the significant number twelve.
differebam: Repeated with a slight advance at 8.7.18, `differre de die in diem contempta spe saeculi te solum sequi'.
ad eam investigandam: c. acad. 1.3.7, `placuit enim Ciceroni nostro beatum esse qui veritatem investigat, etiamsi ad eius inventionem non valeat pervenire.'
circumfluentibus: In this sense almost exclusively Ciceronian (e.g., Cic. amic. 15.52); see Hensellek, Anzeiger Akad. Wien 114(1977), 148. So c. Sec. 16, `quid potius eligam, cum me rerum copia circumfluat?' c. acad. 1.1.1, `excepit te circumfluentia divitiarum'.
petieram a te castitatem: Courcelle, Recherches 71n3 (followed with qualifications by Testard 1.22), refers this velleity to the Manichean period; but it is noteworthy that A. says here `in exordio ipsius adolescentiae', which in conf. is marked carefully at 2.1.1, with the onset of concupiscentia carnis (carefully dated to A.'s sixteenth year, three years before the Hortensius and Manicheism), and it is of that period that the reader would naturally think. May Manicheism have been not the cause but the beneficiary of this desire, attractive precisely for the presumed chastity of the elect? In another passage A. does seem to collocate the Hortensius excitement with the beginnings of adolescence: util. cred. 1.1, `de invenienda ac retinenda veritate . . . cuius ut scis ab ineunte adulescentia magno amore flagravimus', and beata v. 1.2 may imply something similar. Testard's emphasis is that the invitation to continence undoubtedly occurs in the Hortensius (this is essentially, if not explicitly, confirmed by Hort. frags. 74M (Nonius 33.7 Lindsay), 80M (Non. 503.15), and 81M (c. Iul. 4.14.72 and 5.10.42, partly corroborated by Non. 412.8: quoted on 3.4.7). Even accepting the dating of this `exordium adolescentiae' to age eighteen, the zeal for continence was not purely a product of his Manichean allegiance, but predated it to some extent. The non-mention in earlier books is to be attributed to the rhetorical purposes of writing conf.
da mihi: Knauer 66n4 observes that `da quod iubes et iube quod vis' (10.29.40 [2x] = 10.31.45 = 10.37.60) always carries the implication, `da mihi continentiam.'
ieram: The pluperfect denotes the past, his Manichean days: Sirach 2.16, `vae his qui perdiderunt sustinentiam et qui dereliquerunt vias rectas et diverterunt in vias pravas' (and cf. `ceteris' here: sc. `viis rectis'). Contrast the ever-present echo of Jn. 14.6.
certus: See on 8.1.1.
non pie quaerebam: See on 5.3.5, `non pie quaerunt'.
text of 8.7.18
This paragraph resembles in tone and intent 6.11.18-19: both recreate moments of retrospective impatience, evoking an atmosphere in which `conversion' is the only possible outcome. Like the earlier passage, this should not be taken to indicate that stages of thought and development dispatched in earlier books were re-awakened in the summer of 386.
differre de die in diem: Sirach 5.8, `non tardes converti ad dominum, et ne differas de die in diem.' On first appearance at 6.11.20, this verse also evoked the challenge of continence.
spe saeculi: 6.11.19, `quid cunctamur igitur relicta spe saeculi conferre nos totos ad quaerendum deum et vitam beatam?'; 8.12.30 (in the garden), `convertisti enim me ad te, ut nec uxorem quaererem nec aliquam spem saeculi huius', 9.10.26 (Monnica dying), `fili . . . quid hic faciam adhuc et cur hic sim, nescio, iam consumpta spe huius saeculi.'
certum aliquid: See on 5.14.25.
quo nudarer mihi: Continues the thought from 8.7.16, `et constituebas me ante faciem meam, ut viderem quam turpis essem. . . .'
illa: sc. `sarcina vanitatis'.
pinnas: Analogous wings at Amb. fuga saec. 5.30 (quoted on 1.18.28, `pinna visibili').
qui . . . meditati: Ps. 54.7, `timor et tremor venerunt super me et contexerunt me tenebrae et dixi, quis dabit mihi pennas sicut columbae et volabo et requiescam'; en. Ps. 54.8, `videt se sine pennis, an potius ligatis pennis? si desunt, dentur; si ligatae sunt, solvantur; quia etiam qui solvit pennas avi, aut dat aut reddit illi pennas suas. . . . incipiat ergo pie vivere in Christo, . . . incipit desiderare pennas, elongare, fugere, et manere in deserto.' This may refer to the courtiers of Trier (as below, 8.8.19, `surgunt indocti'), but a wider context is probably invoked. Not (as G-M thought, enticed by a superficial resemblance) allusion to Plato, Phaedrus 249-250.
ego ad me: An ordinary phrase, but cf. 7.10.16, `redire ad memet ipsum'; for the form, cf. 5.8.15, `abiit [Monnica] ad solita, et ego Romam.'
post te ire: Cf. Ier. 7.9, `et ire post deos alienos quos ignoratis'; Lk. 21.8, `multi enim venient in nomine meo, dicentes quia ego sum: et tempus appropinquavit; nolite ergo ire post eos.' G-M: `post te ire = sequi; a Hebraism introduced by the Biblical versions.'
et quasi mortem reformidabat: The fear of death has matured from 6.16.26; it is no longer death he fears, but life, as much as if it were death. He is at pains here to show himself past all intellectual argument. No further philosophical insights are required; no further reading of Platonic books would help. He draws nearer a Christian view of baptism, where images of redemptive death abound: e.g., Rom. 6.3, `quicumque baptizati sumus in Christum Iesum, in mortem ipsius baptizati sumus', and see on 9.1.1.
consuetudinis: See on 8.5.10.
tabescebat: The word in this sense is biblical (e.g., Lam. 3.20, `tabescet in me anima mea'); also at 2.6.13, 3.2.4, 6.7.12, 7.10.16, 8.1.2, 8.2.4, 9.4.11, 9.7.15.
text of 8.8.19
Cf. en. Ps. 63.19, `in nomine Christi et qui loquimur vivimus, et quibus loquimur vivitis; numquid consilii corrigendi et mutandae vitae malae in bonam non est locus, non est tempus? nonne si vis, hodie fit? nonne si vis, modo fit? quid empturus es ut facias? quae seplasia quaesiturus es? ad quos Indos navigaturus? quam navim praeparaturus? ecce cum loquor, muta cor; et factum est quod tam saepe et tamdiu clamatur ut fiat, et quod aeternam poenam parturit, si non fiat.'
in illa grandi rixa: The same vocabulary in a Pauline context (expounding Rom. 7.15-16) years later at s. Morin 4.2, `quod iubet lex, delectat mentem nostram: et quod prohibet lex, delectat carnem nostram; et contendunt mens nostra et caro nostra: mens contendit pro lege, caro contra legem; et ambulat unus homo cum rixa quae in illo agitur. in uno homine rixa est: tacet lingua, et intus tumultus est.' (The image of a house torn by strife emerges in s. Morin 4.4.) See also en. Ps. 75.4 (`sit rixa tua tecum'). Cf. Ps. 4.5, `quae dicitis in cordibus vestris in cubilibus vestris compungimini'; en. Ps. 4.6, `haec enim sunt cubilia de quibus et dominus monet, ut intus oremus clausis ostiis.'
in cubiculo nostro: Mt. 6.6, `tu autem cum orabis intra in cubicula vestra'; s. dom. m. 2.3.11, `quae sunt ista cubicula, nisi ipsa corda quae in psalmo etiam significantur, ubi dicitur: quae dicitis in cordibus vestris et in cubilibus vestris compungimini? . . . claudendum est ergo ostium, id est, carnali sensui resistendum est, ut oratio spiritalis dirigatur ad patrem, quae fit in intimis cordis, ubi oratur pater in abscondito.'
quid est hoc: See on 7.6.10.
quid (audisti) quid C D O Maur. Ver.: quod GS Knöll Skut.
A.'s preference for rhetorical threesomes.
surgunt indocti: Probably allusion to the Trier converts of 8.6.15.
et caelum rapiunt: en. Ps. 86.6, `amen dico vobis, publicani et meretrices praecedunt vos in regnum caelorum [Mt. 21.31]. praecedunt, quia vim faciunt; impellunt credendo, et ceditur fidei, nec obsistere potest quisquam, quia qui vim faciunt, diripiunt illud. ibi enim positum est, regnum caelorum vim patitur, et qui vim faciunt, diripiunt illud. [Mt. 11.12] hoc fecit ille latro, fortior in cruce quam in fauce.' Cf. Mt. 5.3, `beati pauperes spiritu, quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum' (of the hermits of Trier at 8.6.15).
volutamur in carne: 2.3.8, `volutabar in caeno'.
in carne et sanguine: Cf. in this context 1 Cor. 15.49-50, `et sicut portavimus imaginem terreni portabimus et imaginem caelestis, (50) quoniam caro et sanguis regnum dei possidere non possunt, neque corruptio incorruptelam possidebit.'
aestus meus: Of A.'s various emotional straits, the noun, verb, or derivatives 12x in conf. to here (and after this passage only 2x further); see esp. 2.2.2, `aestuabat', 2.2.3, `exaestuarent fluctus aetatis meae', and cf. 8.1.1.
insaniebam salubriter et moriebar vitaliter: oxymora: so then `gnarus . . . ignarus' below.
gnarus gnarus S Maur. Knöll Skut. Ver.: ignarus C D G O
sic affectum: 8.1.2, `sic affecto ut ego eram'.
fremebam spiritu: Jn. 11.33 (Jesus at the funeral of Lazarus), `fremuit spiritu et turbavit seipsum.'
placitum: Mandouze 116n8: `contrairement à l'interprétation de Labriolle, mais aussi de Tréhorel-Bouissou --, le placitum n'est pas seulement le bon plaisir de Dieu mais la décision d'Augustin qui doit aboutir à une alliance (pactum) avec lui.'
pactum tecum: Cf. Ezech. 16.8, `ingressus sum pactum tecum, ait dominus deus, et facta es mihi.'
esse esse C D S Maur. Knöll Skut. Ver.: esset O G
omnia ossa mea clamabant: Ps. 34.10 (and elsewhere), `omnia ossa mea dicent, domine, quis similis tibi' (see on 5.1.1, 8.1.1, 9.1.1). ossa mea = `firmamentum animae meae' (cf. Ps. 34.10: see on 5.1.1).
nam non solum ire . . . velle ire: See on 1.18.29, `non enim pedibus'.
semisauciam: Neologism; just possible to think of Lk. 10.30 (the wounded man in the parable of the good Samaritan).
text of 8.8.20
Narrative on two levels at once: we are shown the restless gestures and at the same time hear the interior monologue that accompanied them.
The theme, that sexuality escapes control of the will, recurs in a different key twenty years later at civ. 14.23, `an vero manus et pedes movemus, cum volumus, ad ea quae his membris agenda sunt, sine ullo renisu. . . . libido . . . eo magis erubescenda extitit, quod animus in ea nec sibi efficaciter imperat, ut omnino non libeat, nec omni modo corpori, ut pudenda membra voluntas potius quam libido commoveat; . . . hanc voluntatis et libidinis rixam [cf. 8.8.19] . . .' Cf. `duae voluntates' at 8.5.10 and 8.9.21.
tam multa faciebam corpore: M. Miles, Jour. Amer. Acad. Rel., 50(1982), 356, well remarks that the uncontrolled actions here add up to a regression to infancy; cf. esp. 1.6.8, `itaque iactabam membra et voces', etc.
text of 8.9.21
Another binocular vision: now the words of the text are both those that A. might have uttered at the time (in his interior monologue) and those that A. at the time of conf. utters in perplexity. The triple `unde hoc monstrum? et quare istuc?' gives rhetorical structure and forces a partial resolution. If the will is the center of the self, this division is itself evidence that singleness of will can only come from outside that divided self.
monstrum: Something unnatural, inexplicable, repugnant to reason and reasonable expectation, yet seemingly significant: whimsically, doctr. chr. 2.20.31, `unde illud eleganter dictum est Catonis, qui cum esset consultus a quodam qui sibi a soricibus erosas caligas diceret, respondit non esse illud monstrum, sed vere monstrum habendum fuisse, si sorices a caligis roderentur.'
luceat . . . tenebrosissimae: Light and darkness, appropriate to the imagery of awakening (see on 8.12.29), and apposite to a Christ-centered interpretation.
filiorum Adam: See on 1.9.14, `filiis Adam'.
aegritudo: Elsewhere in conf. 6x, always of physical disease.
consuetudine praegravatus: See on 13.9.10, `pondus meum amor meus'. For consuetudo, see on 8.5.10; veritas (Jn. 14.6) here is by implication the antidote.
text of 8.10.22
We now return to the Manichees, in departing from whom A.'s own ascent to truth began. Thus they furnish a benchmark for measuring his progress. These paragraphs are mentioned and discussed by the viri doctiores with surprising infrequency: perhaps we grow bored with Manicheism at this stage. The ferocity of his opposition testifies that A. always felt the force of Manichean arguments.
Cf. duab. an. 13.19, `quare non duas animas hinc fateri cogor? possumus enim melius et multo expeditius intellegere duo genera rerum bonarum . . . animam unam ex diversis adficere partibus'. Contrast (and see on) 5.10.18, `adhuc enim mihi videbatur non esse nos qui peccamus, sed nescio quam aliam in nobis peccare naturam'. A genuine departure from his Manichean views: the will is not subject to evil influences from outside; its disorders are purely internal to itself, a division of itself against itself; it is the cure of this disease that comes from outside.
pereant a facie tua: Ps. 67.3, `sicut deficit fumus, deficiant, sicut fluit cera a facie ignis, sic pereant peccatores a facie dei'; en. Ps. 67.3, `quia cum in hoc saeculo sicut fumus se extollendo, id est, superbiendo defecerint, veniet illis in fine extrema damnatio, ut ab eius facie pereant in aeternum cum in sua claritate fuerit praesentatus, velut ignis, ad poenam impiorum lumenque iustorum.' (For the vocabulary of light and darkness; cf. Eph. 5.8 below.)
vaniloqui et mentis seductores: Tit. 1.10, `sunt enim multi et inoebedientes, vaniloqui et seductores'; c. adv. leg. 1.17.34, `sed vaniloqui et mentis seductores adversantes litteris sacris, quas intellegere nolunt, eligunt ex eis aspera quae ibi leguntur ad commendandam severitatem dei, et de litteris evangelicis atque apostolicis lenia quae ibi leguntur ad commendandam bonitatem dei'.
fuistis aliquando: Eph. 5.8, `eratis enim aliquando tenebrae, nunc autem lux in domino: ut filii lucis ambulate' (cf. Rom. 13.12-13 [see on 8.12.29], `et induamur arma lucis sicut in die honeste ambulemus' : the link to that verse is explicit at Gn. litt. 4.23.40). Cf. ep. 140.3.6, `hic ergo deus, verbum dei per quod facta sunt omnia, . . . ita non absens etiam mentibus impiorum, quamvis eum non videant, sicut nec ista lux videtur oculis praesentata caecorum. lucet ergo et in tenebris talibus, quales apostolus significat ubi dicit, fuistis enim aliquando tenebrae, nunc autem lux in domino; sed eam tales tenebrae non comprehenderunt [Jn. 1.9].' Also at 9.4.10, 13.2.3, 13.8.9, 13.10.11, 13.12.13, 13.14.15.
a te vero lumine: Jn. 1.9 (text at 7.9.13); see on `fuistis aliquando' above and `inluminamini' below. As ever since 7.9.13, the decisive lack is put in Christological terms, in anticipation of the garden scene.
attendite: For construction, see Knauer 113. The remarkable apostrophe has no apparent scriptural warrant.
accedite: Ps. 33.6, `accedite ad eum et inluminamini, et vultus vestri non erubescent'; en. Ps. 33. s. 2.10, `nos ad eum accedamus ut corpus et sanguinem eius accipiamus. . . . nos manducando crucifixum et bibendo inluminamur. . . . unde accedunt gentes? fide sectando, corde inhiando, caritate currendo. pedes tui, caritas tua est. . . . lumen enim erat verum, quod inluminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum. sicut ergo lumen non potest confundi, sic et inluminatum confundi non sinit.'
servirem domino deo meo: Jer. 30.9, `sed servient domino deo suo'; Deut. 6.13, `dominum deum tuum timebis, et illi soli servies'; Mt. 4.10, `scriptum est, dominum deum tuum adorabis, et illi soli servies.'
diu: Courcelle, Recherches 201: `Augustin ne cache pas que la décision de conversion est due moins au hasard d'un cri entendu ou d'un verset lu, qu'aux longs débats intérieurs qui l'ont précédée.' But `diu' here speaks directly to the first stage of the narrative of Bk. 8, the emergence of the choice; the garden is the place at which the choice is made. Whether the choice was by that moment inevitable is a different question, but it was a choice that probably required the self-dramatization of the garden to take effect.
(nolebam) ego ego O S Knöll Skut. Ver.: ego ego CDG Maur.
(Verheijen's apparatus is inaccurate here.)
dissipabar: See on 8.5.10.
et ideo non iam: Paul provides A. of 397 with a way of describing what A. of 386 was thinking and feeling in response to Paul. The echo is not literally a passage in A.'s mind at the time. Rom. 7.17-20, `nunc autem iam non ego operor illud sed quod habitat in me peccatum. . . . (20) si autem quod nolo illud facio non ego operor illud sed quod habitat in me peccatum.' en. Ps. 118. s. 3.1, `quid enim operatur peccatum nolentibus nobis, nisi sola illicita desideria? quibus si voluntatis non adhibeatur adsensus, movetur quidem nonnullus affectus, sed nullus ei relaxatur effectus.'
liberioris peccati: `more freely committed sin': the comparative measures the distance between two sins, and the sin of Adam was freer (in A.'s later vocabulary [corrept. 12.33], Adam had the ability not to sin: `posse non peccare') than that of the ordinary fallen person (who could not fail to sin: `non posse non peccare'). The greater freedom of the original sin was not the greatest freedom, which is complete freedom from sin (`non posse peccare').
text of 8.10.23
nam si: The decisive argument against this aspect of Manicheism: not two, but many. The plurality of the world and the gradations of goodness (subjects on which the neo-Platonists were clear and strong) refute for A. the mere dualism of the Manichees.
ad conventiculum . . . ad theatrum: Both options arise from concupiscentia oculorum, the Manichean vice (see on 3.6.10-11).
adversantium voluntatum: 8.10.24, `adversantibus quattuor voluntatibus'.
in eam: Generally referred to `ecclesiam nostram' but Pusey rightly applies it to ecclesiam manichaeam; `detinentur' is pejorative, the construction is awkward (why `sicut in eam pergunt qui' when `eos pergi . . . qui' would suffice), and why predicate good will only of Christian churchgoers `sacramentis eius imbuti' and not, for example, well-intentioned seekers come to hear the Word and consider sacramental initiation? Ecclesia of the Manichean community is rare but possible (not elsewhere in conf., but cf. mor. 2.17.61, 2.19.72).
text of 8.10.24
deus verax: = Christ. Jn. 3.33, `qui accepit testimonium eius, signavit quia deus verax est'; Rom. 3.4, `est autem deus verax; omnis autem homo mendax'; Ps. 85.15, `et tu, domine deus, miserator et misericors, patiens et multae misericordiae, et verax.' Io. ev. tr. 14.8, `quia nemo hominum potest dicere quod veritatis est, nisi inluminetur ab eo qui mentiri non potest. deus ergo verax, Christus autem deus.' Cf. en. Ps. 85.20-1. In conf., 1.18.28, 6.5.7, 10.43.68, `verax mediator', 13.29.44, `tu verax et veritas'.
sicut in utraque mala voluntate: Answered by `ita et . . .' below.
utrum ad circum pergat an ad theatrum: Options from concupiscentia oculorum again: see on 8.10.23. Other options here show some influence of the Decalogue, but the list is casual and arbitrary.
articulum temporis: 3.9.17, 7.6.8.
distendunt: distentio elsewhere in conf. only in A.'s famous definition of time (11.23.30) and discussion following thereon; so here it is temporality that distracts in the presence of eternity.
text of 8.11.25
The comparative drought of scriptural echoes has the effect of emphasizing A.'s self-constructed isolation (which he is about to surrender) and prepares for the flood of them in the decisive paragraphs.
solito: 8.8.19, `neque enim solita sonabam'; 8.11.27, `inusitati'.
versans me in vinculo meo: See on 8.6.13. Courcelle, Recherches 192n3, sees a possible echo of Persius. At 8.12.28, there is a moderately good case to make for that (`cras et cras' from Pers. 5.66), and the echo here is from the same satire, 5.158-160, the conclusion of a controversia between Avaritia et Luxuria:
[nec tu] `rupi iam vincula' dicas;
nam et luctata canis nodum abripit, et tamen illi,
cum fugit, a collo trahitur pars longa catenae.
For the last line Courcelle, Les Confessions 116n4, suggests 6.12.21, `trahebam catenam meam solvi timens'. But both echoes draw on conventional forms of expression and imply no dependency (Mandouze 116n7 is cautious). Courcelle, Les Confessions 124n2, himself notes against `[vinculo] iam exiguo tenebar, sed tenebar tamen' this passage from Cypr. ad Don. 3, `nam et ipse quam plurimis vitae prioris erroribus implicatus tenebar, quibus exui me posse non crederem.'
donec abrumperetur totum: 8.6.15 (quoting one of the agentes in rebus), `ego iam abrupi me ab illa spe nostra.'
in occultis meis: Sim. at 1.5.6, 10.37.60.
severa misericordia: 9.8.17, `sancta severitate vehemens'.
ibam in placitum: See on 8.8.19, `indignans . . . quod non irem in placitum et pactum tecum, deus meus'.
conabar: See on 4.15.26; conor, the verb of grace-less spirituality, is a sign that on this particular path lies failure unless something else intervenes. It does not occur again until late in Bk. 10; in other words, this is the last attempt by A. to reach his goal by his own efforts.
attingebam: Of mystic realization, here slipping from A.'s grasp; cf. 7.4.6, 9.10.24-25 (3x), 10.17.26.
deterius inolitum . . . melius insolitum: A phrase of this sort invites inquiry into the method of composition. Which half came to mind first? (Hard to say, but probably the first.) Was either half reworded to increase the parallelism, rhyme, etc.? (Almost certainly, and there is no way of telling which.) Does the result accurately reflect A.'s intentions and feelings here? (Certainly. And this is where we find our credulity stretched.)
text of 8.11.26
retinebant: lib. arb. 3.19.53, `vellemus ea [praecepta iustitiae] facere et retinente carnalis concupiscentiae nescio qua necessitate non valeremus'.
nugae: Sim. at 8.11.27; also 1.9.15, 1.17.27, 3.10.18, 4.1.1, 6.4.5, 6.5.8, 9.1.1; Courcelle, Les Confessions 107n3, Bastiaensen, art. cit. below, 431-2.
vanitates vanitantium: Eccles. 1.2, `vanitas vanitatum, dixit Ecclesiastes, vanitas vanitatum, et omnia vanitas.'
vanitantium vanitantium A H V B P Z1 F Knöll Skut.: vanitatium C1 DOS Ver.: vanitatum C2 GMZ2 Maur.: vanitantum E
Vanitatium and vanitantum are unintelligible except as corrections of vanitantium. The scribes did not know retr. 1.7.3, `item quod posui [at mor. 1.21.39] de libro Salomonis: vanitas vanitantium dixit Ecclesiastes, in multis quidem codicibus legi; sed hoc graecus non habet; habet autem vanitas vanitatum, quod postea vidi et inveni eos latinos esse veriores, qui habent vanitatum non vanitantium.' The variant occurs (usually with corrections in some MSS) frequently in A., e.g., vera rel. 21.41, 33.61, en. Ps. 4.3, 38.10, civ. 20.3 (app. to Dombart-Kalb); on the textual problems, see A. A. R. Bastiaensen, Homo Spiritalis (Festschrift L. Verheijen: Würzburg, 1987), 425-433 (vanitantes = `qui vani/falsi/fallentes sunt' --cf. 4.1.1). Earliest citation in A. at quant. an. 33.76, at the seventh and highest stage of the ascent (see on 2.6.12).
amicae meae: 4.16.30, `meretrices cupiditates'. The controversia (so called at 8.11.27) begins here, marked by the personifications here and at 8.11.27, `ipsa continentia . . . mater'; see Courcelle, Recherches 192. Readers often take these amicae as A.'s own past lovers (with prurient relish, as W. Elledge, Jour. Sci. Stud. Rel. 27, 83), but that is a wild anachronism from the fantasy-life of moderns (if A. had tried to say that, he would have said not antiquae [`of long standing'] but veteres: P. Cambronne, Bull. litt. eccl. 88, 219); see Bastiaensen, art. cit., for the sense of the whole sentence.
mussitantes . . . vellicantes: A touch of colloquialism in both words.
tardabant: In the context, surely an echo of Sirach 5.8, `ne tardes converti ad deum' (more explicitly echoed at 6.11.20, where see notes).
consuetudo: See on 8.5.10.
text of 8.11.27
aperiebatur: Not of `opening' as to a knock (Mt. 7.7, often echoed from 1.1.1 on), but of `unveiling' (cf. e.g. 1.8.13, 8.10.24, 9.7.16, `aperuisti quo loco laterent martyrum corpora').
ab ea parte: Courcelle, Recherches 192n1, interprets this as indication that A. is thinking of the Pythagorean *U, but only a priori arguments support that view and `transire' rather contradicts it.
continentiae: As female allegorical persona at past. Herm. 3.8.4 and Tert. monog. 8 (Courcelle, Recherches 192n2); Ambrose offers a faint implication of such a personification at de Isaac vel anima 8.79, `adsuescamus oculos nostros . . . spectare vultum continentiae et temperantiae.' A noteworthy shift in his imagery from c. acad. 2.2.5-6, `arripio apostolum Paulum. . . . (6) tunc vero quantulocumque iam lumine asperso tanta se mihi philosophiae facies aperuit, ut . . . eam demonstrare potuissem'. For further transformations of the mother figure --> ecclesia, see s. 216.4.4 (with express invitation to baptism: quoted on 8.2.4, `Babylonicae'), s. 304.2.2, `perditura est ergo filios suos, quos tanto fecundius, quanto securius tempore pacis enixa est mater ecclesia?'
hilaris: Cf. 3.11.19, `iuvenem splendidum hilarem' (cf. Courcelle, Les Confessions 132).
honeste blandiens: See on 2.6.13.
gregibus: 8.6.15, `monasteriorum greges'.
tot pueri et puellae: virg. 27.27, `pergite itaque sancti dei, pueri ac puellae, mares ac feminae, caelibes et innuptae, pergite perseveranter in finem'; see also 8.12.29, `quasi pueri an puellae'. Io. ev. tr. 113.2, `quam multi postea, non dico senes et anus, in quibus huius vitae satietas facilius potuit mortem pro Christi confessione contemnere; nec solum iuventus utriusque sexus, de qua aetate convenienter videtur exigi fortitudo; sed etiam pueri puellaeque potuerunt, et innumerabilis societas sanctorum martyrum in regnum caelorum fortiter et violenter intravit, quod tunc iste [sc. Petrus] non potuit.'
mater filiorum: Ps. 112.9, `habitare facit sterilem in domo, matrem filiorum laetantem.' For contrast, c. Iul. 2.7.20, quoting Amb.'s de philosophia, `mater autem vitiorum omnium incontinentia, quae etiam licita vertit in vitium.'
inrisione hortatoria: For A.'s sensitivity to mockery, see on 1.6.7, `inrisor meus' : there, as here, that mockery comes from a divinely authorized source.
quasi diceret: Repeated below; `quasi' confirms the non-literal quality of the vision (see on 8.12.29, `quasi pueri'). Continentia's questions follow on the heels of the similar but contrary urging of consuetudo: 8.11.26, `putasne sine istis [sc. amicis] poteris?'
stas et non stas: Anticipates 8.12.30, `stans in ea regula fidei', which in turn goes back to 3.11.19, Monnica's vision. O. Tescari, Studi Romani 11(1963), 526-527, proposes to read `quid stas et non instas'.
proice te in eum: Cf. 5.2.2, `proicientium se in te'.
erubescebam: In the early books, A. blushed at the wrong things: 2.3.7, 2.8.16, 4.16.31, 4.16.31; at 6.3.4, he was allowed one healthy blush at his own earlier ignorance, but now in Bk. 8, he learns to blush rightly (from the example of Victorinus: 8.2.3, `non erubuerit esse puer Christi'): cf. 8.2.4 (3x), 8.10.22 (2x)
nugarum: See on 8.11.26.
obsurdesce . . .: Here is as plain a command to chastity as A. could wish, from a semi-divine source; but he does not respond with the inevitable decision--that still waits for scripture, the undoubted voice of God himself--`lex domini dei tui' (Ps. 118.85, `narraverunt mihi iniqui delectationes, sed non sicut lex tua, domine' [also quoted verbatim at 11.2.4]; en. Ps. 118. s. 20.5, `id est exercitationes delectabiles verbis: sed non, inquit, sicut lex tua, domine, quia me in ea veritas, non verba delectant'). Now he is commanded to deafen himself to the temptations of the flesh; once he had deafened himself to the warning voice of God in order to yield to the flesh (2.2.2, `obsurdueram stridore catenae mortalitatis meae'; cf. 4.11.16).
membra tua: Col. 3.5, `mortificate ergo membra vestra quae sunt super terram: fornicationem, immunditiam, libidinem, concupiscentiam malam, et avaritiam, quae est simulacrorum servitus.' The unquoted part of the scriptural verse is present just beyond the light thrown by the text, offering an inexplicit specificity of reference. He takes this line as advice to love God in creatures (esp. for their pulchritudo: 10.27.38), hence his implied critique of abused sexuality, that it constitutes loving the creature in place of the creator: en. Ps. 39.8, `amando ibi speciem veritatis, incurrant laqueum falsitatis; retro sint, relinquantur, amputentur. si membra nostra erant, mortificentur: mortificate, inquit, membra vestra quae sunt super terram. sit spes nostra deus noster. qui fecit omnia, melior est omnibus; qui pulchra fecit, pulchrior est omnibus; qui fortia, fortior est; qui magna, maior est; quidquid amaveris, ille tibi erit. disce amare in creatura creatorem, et in factura factorem'. See also en. Ps. 59.2, 79.14.
lex domini tui: Speaking again, to the same effect but now heeded, as at 2.2.3, `sicut praescribit lex tua, domine'.
ista controversia in corde meo: The dialogue he describes is similar to that which he wrote in sol., as described at retr. 1.4.1, `inter haec scripsi etiam duo volumina secundum studium meum et amorem, ratione indagandae veritatis de his rebus quas maxime scire cupiebam, me interrogans mihique respondens, tamquam duo essemus ratio et ego, cum solus essem, unde hoc opus soliloquia nominavi.' Mohrmann Vig. Chr. 5(1951), 251 notes similar passages at ss. 39.3.5, 86.6.6, 164.3.5, usually dealing with avarice rather than incontinence.
inusitati: 8.8.19, `neque enim solita sonabam'.
text of 8.12.28
The pivotal studies of the garden scene are those of Courcelle, Recherches 188-202 and Les Confessions 137-197. Emphasizing that the chest disorder is decisive in beata v. 1.4 (quoted below on `procella'), he summarizes (Recherches 190): `Augustin souffre d'un mal de potirine et s'inquiète, parce qu'il voit sa carrière et ses projets matrimoniaux compromis. Au fond de ce désarroi, dans un sursaut de volonté, le moment lui paraît venu de mettre à profit l'adversité et de renoncer à tout espoir profane: c'est la fameuse scène du jardin de Milan.' Two elisions have left that statement more controversial than it needs to be. (1) How far does C. mean to say that the motives he attributes to A. were conscious ones? No autobiographer, not even A., is good at measuring the sway of anxiety over action. (2) Even assuming a large share for such conscious motivation, would A. or his readers be as exercised as moderns are at the juxtaposition of the two versions? Late antique men and women would be far readier than we to see in the illness itself a sign of divine disapproval of the course A. was taking and a direction to choose a different path. Courcelle's later summary is more cautious and ambivalent (Les Confessions 181): `J'ai toujours soutenu que la scène du jardin était réelle, quoique la "voix" ne fût pas celle d'un enfant réel. Mais il est difficile de parler des choses de l'au-delà sans images ni affabulation, et il y a des degrés dans l'affabulation même.'
Of the models adduced earlier in the book, Victorinus offers the closest parallel to the intellectual and moral issues facing A., the courtiers of Trier offer a private setting for the conversion scene, and Antony offers the instrument of the sortes biblicae (C. Andresen, Gnomon 31, 356). On style, cf. W. Schmidt-Dengler, REAug 15(1969), 203, on the shift from hypotactic to paratactic construction and more colloquial language. The scene is thus set off from the context and given verisimilitude (against the allegorism of 8.11.27). Opinions will differ whether this change in stylistic texture is an argument (as Schmidt-Dengler 205 makes it) against Courcelle's attempt to read the garden scene as in part a continuation of the allegory.
How do we know that this scene is the turning point of the narrative? A reasonable case could be made that Bk. 9 is not mere narrative appendage, but essential climax--climax in baptism, set in the midst of narratives of death and rebirth, or alternatively climax in the vision of Ostia. Contrariwise, many recent readers treat Bk. 7 as if it should be the high point. Bks. 7, 8, and 9 each present crucial and essential scenes, as marked by the `non in his verbis' device present in each (see below on 8.12.28, and cf. 7.9.13 and 9.10.26). The best evidence in support of the traditional view has never been adduced: lib. arb. 1.11.22 (discussed in the prolegomena), where A. sketches in nuce and abstractly a pattern of sin and misery that a soul might expect to endure, matches the structure of the narrative of conf. closely, up to and through the anguish of Bk. 8, but has no parallel for either the garden scene or anything that follows. If, as argued in the prolegomena, the lib. arb. passage represents an early version of A.'s view of his own past, then the implication is that the misery of sin reaches as far as this moment, not ending with the reading of the platonicorum libri, and essentially resolved by the beginning of Bk. 9; and phrased in that way, the centrality of this episode seems irrefutable--but not so obvious as we have been inclined to take it.
fundo arcano: 9.1.1, `et a fundo cordis mei exhauriens abyssum corruptionis'.
in conspectu cordis mei: Ps. 15.8, `providebam dominum in conspectu meo semper quoniam a dextris est mihi, ne commovear'; en. Ps. 15.8, `sed veniens in ea quae transeunt, non abstuli oculum ab eo qui semper manet, hoc providens ut in eum post temporalia peracta recurrerem. . . . quoniam favet mihi, ut stabiliter in eo permaneam.' This is again what Mandouze 200n2 speaks of as a `conversion to himself': cf. 8.7.16, `constituebas me ante faciem meam.'
procella: In the imagery of storms and tears A. comes closest elsewhere to suggesting that something like what is recorded here might have happened: see Courcelle, Recherches 188-189, collecting these texts: beata v. 1.2, `saeviens omnino tempestas contrarieque flans ventus, qui eos ad certa et solida gaudia vel flentes gementesque perducat'; beata v. 1.4, `quid ergo restabat aliud nisi ut immoranti mihi superfluis tempestas, quae putatur adversa, succurreret? itaque tantus me arripuit pectoris dolor, ut illius professionis onus sustinere non valens . . . abicerem omnia et optatae tranquillitati vel quassatam navem fessamque perducerem'; util. cred. 8.20, `restabat autem aliud nihil in tantis periculis, quam ut divinam providentiam lacrimosis et miserabilibus vocibus ut opem mihi ferret deprecarer.'
lacrimarum: A.'s at 3.2.4 (over the spectacula), 4.5.10 (for his friend's death), 9.6.14 (in church in the week after his baptism [also at 10.33.50]); they have been long in coming--7.21.27, `non habent illae paginae [platonicae] vultum pietatis huius, lacrimas confessionis'.
solitudo: See on 10.43.70, `meditatusque fueram fugam in solitudinem', where the word evokes the ascetic life; here it is analogous but not identical.
sub quadam fici arbore: Jn. 1.47-48, `vidit Iesus Nathanahel venientem ad se et dicit de eo, ecce vere Israhelita in quo dolus non est. (48) dicit ei Nathanahel, unde me nosti? respondit Iesus et dixit ei, priusquam te Philippus vocaret, cum esses sub arbore fici vidi te.' Courcelle, Aug. Mag. 1.45: `Augustin ne dit pas seulement ficus, ni sub ficu, ni sub arbore ficu, mais il reproduit les trois mots du verset de Nathanael tel qu'il le lisait, "sub arbore fici."' Two passages offer essential interpretation:
First, the flesh in need of grace: en. Ps. 31. s. 2.9, `sub arbore fici erat, sub conditione carnis erat. si sub conditione carnis erat, quia impietate propaginis tenebatur, sub illa arbore fici erat, in qua gemitur in alio psalmo: ecce enim in iniquitate conceptus sum. [Ps. 50.7] sed vidit eum ille qui venit cum gratia. quid est: vidit eum? misertus est eius. . . . quid magnum est videre hominem sub arbore fici? si non vidisset sub ista ficu genus humanum Christus, aut aresceremus omnino, aut, quomodo pharisaei, in quibus dolus erat, id est, iustificabant se verbis, factis autem mali erant, folia sola invenirentur in nobis, non fructus. nam talem arborem fici quando vidit Christus, maledixit et aruit. [cf. Mt. 21.19]' (Cf. qu. ev. 1.39, `arborem fici genus humanum intellege propter pruritum carnis.')
Second, the pre-history of the tree itself: Io. ev. tr. 7.21-22, `quaerendum est, an aliquid significet ista arbor fici. audite enim, fratres mei. invenimus arborem fici maledictam, quia sola folia habuit et fructum hon habuit. [Mt. 21.19] in origine humani generis Adam et Eva cum peccassent, de foliis ficulneis succinctoria sibi fecerunt; folia ergo ficulnea intelleguntur peccata. erat autem Nathanael sub arbore fici tamquam sub umbra mortis. . . . misericordia sua ante te vidit quam tu eum cognosceres, cum sub peccato iaceres. . . . (22) fratres, nescio quid maius dixi quam est: sub arbore fici vidi te.' (Sim. at s. 69.3.4; cf. for sub arbore fici ss. 89.5 [`in umbra peccati'], 122.1.1 [`sub peccato'], 174.4.4 [`in umbra peccati'], en. Ps. 44.20 [`sub lege constitutus'].) (See V. Buchheit, Vig. Chr. 22 257-271, esp. 261-266, for the roots of this sexual symbolism of the fig tree in Greco-Roman, Jewish, and Christian antiquity.)
Ambrose offers parallel interpretations at in Luc. 8.90 and de virginibus 1.3, but one passage offers tantalizing depths: Amb. de Isaac vel anima 8.73, `bona anima quae requiescit sub arbore fructuosa et maxime boni odoris. . . . nam etsi Nathanahel videbatur sub arbore, tamen anima eius sponsa non erat, qui occulte veniebat ad Christum, quia verebatur Iudaeos.' The interpretation recalls the reading A. puts on the reluctance of Marius Victorinus to approach baptism; under the fig tree is a place where good and decent men are found, but the next step--proceeding to meet Christ publicly--is essential. The three fig trees (of Genesis, of Matthew, and of John) are essentially one tree, so the significance of all three is here in this passage. The one tree embraces original sin, concupiscentia carnis, verba sine fructu, and umbra mortis (conditio carnis).
These contexts for the fig tree (not forgetting that at 3.10.18 the Manichees were imagined eating the fruit of the same tree) distress those seeking literal narrative here: Courcelle, Les Confessions 191, `J'ai prétendu pourtant--et je continue de prétendre--qu'Augustin ne mentionne ce figuier, au moment où il s'étend à terre et gémit sur lui-même, que pour sa valeur symbolique.' That is a slight modification, in favor of devotees of narrative, of Courcelle's earlier remark at Recherches 193, `ce figuier . . . ne peut avoir qu'une valeur symbolique,' and there he had gone on to say (193n2 on 194), `je croirais plutôt que, dans son récit, il a transposé en figuier n'importe quel arbre.' But it would never occur, either to A. or to his readers, to be surprised at the thought of such a scene being played out in such a figuratively fitting place. The fig tree in modern times appeared first to the southbound traveler on emerging from the Gothard pass railway tunnel (A. E. Housman, Letters [Cambridge, Mass., 1971] 53-54, under date of 27 September 1900).
dimisi habenas lacrimis: Cf. Aen. 12.499, `irarumque omnes effudit habenas'; in Bk. 2, the book of surrender to concupiscentia carnis, he gave rein to pleasure (the only other habenae in conf.): 2.3.8, `relaxabantur etiam mihi ad ludendum habenae'.
acceptabile sacrificium tuum: Ps. 50.19, `quoniam si voluisses sacrificium, dedissem utique; holocaustis non delectaberis, sacrificium deo spiritus contribulatus; cor contritum et humilatum deus non spernit.' Also 4.3.4, 5.9.17, and 7.21.27 (quoted above on `lacrimarum'), and see on 8.12.29.
non quidem his verbis: Each of the climactic books of conversion contains a passage of this sort, presenting words that are carefully and similarly marked to be anachronistic but apt, including an essential message in scriptural terms: see on 7.9.13 and 9.10.25 (Ostia).
et tu, domine, usquequo: Ps. 6.4, `miserere mei, domine, quoniam infirmus sum, sana me, domine, quoniam conturbata sunt ossa mea, et anima mea turbata est valde, et tu, domine, usquequo?' en. Ps. 6.4, `non ergo tamquam crudelis deus aestimandus est, cui dicitur, et tu, domine, usquequo, sed tamquam bonus persuasor animae, quid mali sibi ipsa pepererit.'
usquequo, domine, irasceris in finem: Ps. 78.5, `usquequo domine irasceris in finem, exardescet velut ignis zelus tuus?' en. Ps. 78.8, `rogat utique ne deus usque in finem irascatur, id est, ne illa tanta pressura et tribulatio atque vastatio usque in finem perseveret, sed temperet correptionem suam, secundum illud quod in alio psalmo [Ps. 79.6] dicitur, cibabis nos pane lacrimarum, et potabis nos in lacrimis in mensura.'
ne memor fueris: Ps. 78.8, `ne memineris iniquitatum nostrarum antiquarum'; en. Ps. 78.11, `non ait praeteritarum, quae possent esse etiam recentiores, sed antiquarum, hoc est a parentibus venientium; talibus quippe iniquitatibus damnatio, non correptio debetur.'
iactabam voces: 1.6.8, `iactabam membra et voces' --of infancy's groping attempts at ordered speech! Aen. 2.768:
ausus quin etiam voces iactare per umbram
implevi clamore vias, maestusque Creusam
nequiquam ingeminans iterumque iterumque vocavi.
cras et cras: Persius 5.66-69:
`cras hoc fiet.' idem cras fiet. `quid? quasi magnum
nempe diem donas!' sed cum lux altera venit,
iam cras hesternum consumpsimus; ecce aliud cras
egerit hos annos et semper paulum erit ultra.
Cf. Mohrmann, Vig. Chr. 5(1951), 251; Courcelle, Recherches ed. 2, 456; the resemblance is not compelling. The phrase recurs often: en. Ps. 102.16, `frater, non tardes converti ad dominum. sunt enim qui praeparant conversionem, et differunt, et fit in illis vox corvina, cras, cras. corvus de arca missus, non est reversus. [Gn. 8.6-12] non quaerit deus dilationem in voce corvina, sed confessionem in gemitu columbino. missa columba reversa est. quamdiu: cras, cras? observa ultimum cras; quia ignoras quod sit ultimum cras, sufficiat quod vixisti usque ad hodiernum peccator.' Sim. (as vox corvina) at s. 224.4.4; on procrastination, but without the vox corvina at ss. 20.4, 40.3.5, 87.9.11, en. Ps. 144.11. At Io. ev. tr. 6.2 the contrast is sharpened between the `vox . . . corvi clamosa' and the `vox . . . gemebunda' of the dove/Spirit, invoking the `inenarrabiles gemitus' of the Spirit at Rom. 8.26: `cui bene est in hoc saeculo, immo qui putat quod ei bene sit, qui laetitia rerum carnalium, et abundantia temporalium, et vana felicitate exsultat, habet vocem corvi.' (The same opposition of crow and dove at s. 82.11.14.) The crow is thus the bird whose presence, or whose voice, suggests the absence of the Spirit.
text of 8.12.29
Courcelle's Recherches roused a storm of controversy over this passage, which, in the manner of such storms, has subsided without reaching complete resolution. His work parallelled that of an earlier generation of biblical scholars who called into question the literal narratives of scriptural texts. There was no real novelty of method or principle in his approach, but it nevertheless came as a shock to readers of this text to see those methods and principles applied here.9 The sternest rejoinder to Courcelle was that of F. Bolgiani, La conversione di s. Agostino e l'VIIIo libro delle "Confessioni" (Turin, 1956); the culmination of the debate was Courcelle's own Les Confessions (see pp. 91-197, with ample bibliographical notes), largely carrying the day while yielding some ground (e.g., see above on 8.12.28, `sub arbore fici').
There is no doubt that A. presented himself for baptism in the spring of 387, and that his thoughts and feelings over the preceding months determined his decision to take that step (Courcelle, Recherches 201). There are differences of tone and emphasis between this narrative and the dialogues from Cassiciacum, but many signs of continuity and consistency as well. There is no convincing reason to doubt the facts of the narrative of this garden scene as A. presents them, and so we should depart from Courcelle;10 but at the same time, we should firmly believe (with Courcelle) that the presentation of those facts is marked by an artistry of selection and arrangement that gives the text here much, surely most, of its unique character and texture (see esp. Courcelle, Les Confessions 186: `Le caractère historique du récit du paragraphe 28 des Confessions ne saurait faire oublier qu'un lien étroit rattache le paragraphe 29 au paragraphe 27'). Further, what is presented here is something that was shaped in life by the expectations and interpretations that A. carried with him (few of the modern scholars who have published their opinions of this text would be likely, in a moment of personal crisis, to read divine significance into a stray overheard remark). A. is `making the truth' about his life here, earnestly: we would be poltroons not to allow him his truth. See the moderate conclusion of the note at BA 14.548;9n: `Nous croirions volontiers qu'il s'agit d'un événement naturel qui, dans les conditions du moment, prend pour celui qui le per[ccedil]oit une signification providentielle.'
The garden scene finds little echo, if any, in A.'s work before conf. Some texts seem to undermine the narrative, e.g., c. acad. 2.1.2, `quis, inquam, tam subito umquam tantum intonuit tantumque lumine mentis emicuit, ut sub uno fremitu rationis et quodam coruscamine temperantiae uno die illa pridie saevissima penitus libido moreretur?' But that was written at Cassiciacum, when the firmness and permanence of the `conversion' of Milan were far from certain, and so could even be taken as indirect confirmation of the narrative here; see on 9.4.7 for the suggestion that Cassiciacum was a proving ground for A.'s new resolve. (In that context, c. acad. 3.20.43, `mihi autem certum est nusquam prorsus a Christi auctoritate discedere: non enim reperio valentiorem', reports a mixture of certainty and hope.)
Since the last paragraphs of Bk. 7 (see on 7.18.24), the reader of conf. has been expecting the resolution of A.'s inner struggle to take a form shaped by the incarnate second person of the trinity. That now happens in the words of Paul that he encounters in this passage. The command there, the hearing of which brings light and security, is unambiguous: `put on the Lord Jesus Christ.' Baptism, a ritual that comes with a new white garment, is the moment of that investiture: Gal. 3.27-8, `quotquot enim in Christo baptizati estis, Christum induistis,' which A. quotes in connection with Rom. 13.13 at s. Den. 8.1 (393/405), and cf. bapt. 1.11.16 and c. litt. Pet. 3.8.9. (See also trin. 12.7.12 quoted below, and see on `induite'). There are further baptismal analogies: see van der Meer 364, that baptism at this period took place at cockcrow, with the candidates emerging from baptistry and returning to church for eucharist as the sun was rising. (Rom. 13.12 is cited in that context in an Easter vigil sermon: s. Guelf. 5.4 [= s. 221 (393/405?)]; Rom. 13.13 at s. Guelf. 8.1 [also Easter, n.d.].) That is one of the dawns breaking in these lines.
A. would not think this possible unless he knew well, in orthodox catholic Christian terms, who this Christ was: see 7.19.25, where ignorance of Christological doctrine is a large barrier, and cf. 1.1.1, `sed quis te invocat nesciens te? aliud enim pro alio potest invocare nesciens' : to hear and obey this command would have been bootless without accurate knowledge. If A. leaves this inexplicit, we are not thereby justified in failing to pursue the echoes and think through the implications in his spirit. He has given us all the signs he can. (Who taught him the correct doctrine about Christ? Madec, Lectio VI-IX 67, follows Courcelle in assuming that it was Simplicianus who put A. right. This is only speculation, but it is compelling.) The incarnation as doctrine is present at Cassiciacum: see ord. 2.5.16, quoted on 7.18.24.
The narrative itself is simple: A. is sitting in the garden, rapt in thought. He has a voice-experience. All that he will say of it is `vocem de vicina domo' : that is, in retrospect, the report of the senses. His first reaction is literalist-materialist: `What, did some child say that? Do children say things like that?' When he realized that they do not, he choked back his tears and got up, `nihil aliud interpretans divinitus mihi iuberi' than to go read the book. Now notice that the present participle puts the `realizing it was a divine command' exactly contemporary with and causative to the tear-stopping and up-getting. Thus A.'s own first reaction as he lived through it was to think it material; his mature reaction then and ten years later was to be agnostic about the event, but to interpret it unambiguously as a divine command.
contritione cordis mei: Ps. 50.19, `sacrificium deo spiritus contribulatus, cor contritum et humilatum, deus, non spernes'; see on 8.12.28.
ecce: For ecce, see on 1.5.5 and on 8.6.14. Apoc. 14.1-2 (VL), `et ecce vidi agnum stantem in montem Sion . . . (2) et audivi vocem de caelo quasi sonum multarum aquarum aut magni tonitrui et vox quam audivi quasi citharoedorum citharizantium.' Courcelle, Recherches 194n1 (and cf. 38n6), brings in 3.5.9, where `ecce video' is a figure of speech; at 194n2 he suggests 7.10.16 (the first `ascent'), `tamquam audirem vocem de excelso, cibus sum grandium.' But there A. goes on to give an explicit disclaimer of literality: `audivi sicut auditur in corde'. At Les Confessions 181, Courcelle cites as another incorporeal `audition' sol. 1.1.1, `ait mihi subito sive ego ipse sive alius quis, extrinsecus sive intrinsecus, nescio; . . . litteris manda'. Hence he concludes (Les Confessions 182n2), `Le brusque retour du rêve intérieur est marqué par: et ecce audio . . .'
vocem: Non-material interpretations of the voice do not fit well with A.'s explicit discussion elsewhere of the nature of admonitory divine voices: see Gn. litt. 9.2.3, `an forte in mente ipsius hominis hoc dixit deus, sicut loquitur quibusdam servis suis in ipsis servis suis? . . . an aliqua de hac re ipsi homini in ipso homine per angelum est facta revelatio in similitudinibus vocum corporalium, quamvis tacuerit scriptura, utrum in somnis an in ecstasi? ita enim fieri haec solent. an aliquo modo sicut revelatur prophetis? . . . an per corporalem creaturam vox ipsa sonuerit sicut de nube, hic est filius meus?' Cf. also ep. 80.3 (to Paulinus and Therasia), `sed plerumque non voce de caelo, non per prophetam, non per revelationem vel somnii vel excessus mentis quae dicitur ecstasis, sed rebus ipsis accidentibus et ad aliud quam statueramus vocantibus cogimur agnoscere dei voluntatem aliam quam erat nostra'. Perhaps closest is s. 12.4.4 (393/5), `multi autem modi sunt, quibus nobiscum loquitur deus. . . . loquitur per sortem, sicut de Matthia in locum Iudae ordinando locutus est. . . . loquitur per aliquam vocalem sonantemque creaturam, sicut de caelo voces factas, cum oculis nullus videretur, legimus et tenemus.' (Courcelle did not cite or discuss these texts.)
vicina vicina C D G O A H V B P Z E M F Maur. Skut. Ver.: divina S Knöll Courcelle
Courcelle (Recherches 195-6, Les Confessions 165-168, Recherches ed. 2, 299-310), who has weakened his case on this passage as a whole by inordinate effort in defense of this odd reading. Though domus dei is Augustinian for `heaven' or `church' (see 8.1.2, 8.3.6), and though divina domus can stand for heaven in Cicero (nat. deor. 2.35.90, `in hac caelesti ac divina domo'), C. can cite no precise Augustinian parallel. C.'s best attempt, at Les Confessions 166n7 on 167, cites s. 336.6.6, `de divinae domus aedificatione'; but Verbraken reports a unanimous consensus that this part, at least, of that sermon is inauthentic (and earlier, authentic parts of that sermon contain domus dei repeatedly: 336.1.1, 336.4.4), in C. Mohrmann, Hommages a Max Niedermann (Brussels, 1956), 244-250; she gets beyond palaeographical probabilities to A.'s demonstrable linguistic habits and shows how consistent is A.'s preference (rooted in Christian tradition) for the form domus dei. A single instance of domus divina has surfaced since: s. 86.11.12 (date uncertain, perhaps late), `merito si ille cum quo vivit nollet accipere, iam domui tuae, sed domui divinae dives' (from M. Pellegrino, reviewing Courcelle, Les Confessions, at Studi Medievali, ser. 3, 4, 647). At REL 59(1957), 279, Courcelle quotes a private consultation with A. Dain in support of his reading, but the form of his report suggests that Dain did not really look at the Sessorianus and its habits, but simply took a hypothetical query on palaeographical practice; in palaeographical defense of the traditional reading, see F. Bolgiani, Intorno al piu antico Codice delle "Confessioni" di s. Agostino (Turin, 1954).
cantu: cantare is neutral: cf. at opposite extremes of meaning the divine voice, 2.3.7, `quae cantasti in aures meas', and human voices, 4.7.12, `non in ludis atque cantibus'.
crebro: Not just once or twice (as many fail to notice); n.b. `cantitare'.
quasi pueri an puellae, nescio: On children's voices, see Courcelle, Les Confessions 179-189. For children as lectors in Christian churches of the time, see cons. ev. 1.10.15; an abundance of examples from other periods show wisdom `out of the mouths of babes' (Ps. 8.3): Sulp. Sev. v. Mart. 9.5-6, `unus e circumstantibus sumpto psalterio, quem primum versum invenit, arripuit. psalmus autem hic erat, ex ore infantium. . . . atque ita habitum est, divino nutu psalmum hunc lectum fuisse'; Horace, Procopius, and Talmud are all cited by Courcelle. Cf. Mt. 21.15, `pueros clamantes in templo et dicentes, hosanna filio David,' and of more appropriate context Paulinus, v. Amb. 6, `ibique cum [Ambrosius] alloqueretur plebem, subito vox fertur infantis in populo sonuisse Ambrosium episcopum.'
Deperate polemic evokes desperate arguments; the two worst from Courcelle: (1) Les Confessions 180: it would be surprising if when A. withdrew from Alypius for privacy he picked a spot where he could hear children playing; (2) Les Confessions 181n3: when you pass a schoolyard, you can tell by the sound whether the students are boys or girls, hence A.'s profession of ignorance (and other scholars weigh in with impressionistic opinions about the distinguishability of children's voices).11
At Les Confessions 181, Courcelle draws on R. Joly, Nouvelle Clio 7-9 (1955-57), 445, who examined every occurrence of quasi (99x) in conf. and concluded that `quasi' regularly means `as if it were [but it is not]'. Two difficulties remain: (1) There is no parallel for the disjunction `quasi pueri an puellae', leaving open at least the possibility that A. means to say: `as if it were a boy [but perhaps not] or a girl [but perhaps not]'. (2) It is far from clear just when the hesitation for which `quasi' speaks entered A.'s mind; at the moment, to hear this narrative, he thought immediately of children's games, hence took the sound literally enough that way; was it when he decided that he could think of no such game that he came to doubt the childish nature of the voice? Or was it in after years? Cf. 7.20.26, `garriebam plane quasi peritus' : there `quasi' is only retrospective.
We must guard against literalism here. R. Joly, in the perfectly sober and sage article just quoted, asserts flatly (454): `Quelle voix Augustin a-t-il cru entendre? La réponse me paraît simple: la voix d'un ange.' That is a reasonable thing to say when he is about to quote en. Ps. 104.9, `quae verba licet in libris eius historiae non legantur, tamen intellegenda sunt vel latenter dicta, sicut deus in hominum cordibus loquitur occultis et veracibus visis, vel etiam per angelum expressa.' But on closer reading, that latter passage is anything but simple; rather, it shows the complexity A. himself found in such events. If we could interrogate the mature A. on this, we would certainly get an answer marked by nuance, caution, and unmistakeable gestures of reserve. But we simply cannot interrogate A.; we have just this text, whose ambiguities and inexplicitness we must respect. To press a factual query and to insist on a straight, simple answer is to do violence to A.'s evident strategy here.
tolle lege: In A., the closest parallel is en. Ps. 21. en. 2.30 (in apostrophe to Donatists), `quid servasti [scripturas]? aperi, lege: tu servasti et tu oppugnas. quid servasti a flamma, quod delere vis lingua?' The available parallels in other authors do not count as sources: Martial 2.29.10, `ignoras quid sit? splenia tolle, leges'; hist. Apoll. reg. Tyr. (in its present form later than A., but an earlier redaction antedated A.) 21, `tolle . . . codicellos et lege'. In later Latin, tollere tends to replace sumere, capere, ferre (E. Löfstedt, Philogischer Kommentar zur Peregrinatio Aetheriae [Uppsala, 1911], 182). For tollere with sors, see Courcelle, Les Confessions 155, with passages from Cic. div. 2.41.86, Tibullus, Hyginus, Ampelius, and the hist. aug.; cf. J. Geffcken, Archiv für Religionswissenschaft 31(1934), 1-13, with an interesting text of 402 from the vita Porphyrii by Mark the Deacon. And cf. Julian's misopogon 351d, where J. recalls his tutor Mardonius telling him to stay away from the qe/atra and i(ppodromi/a: e)/sti par' *(Omh/rw| deciw/tata [i(ppodromi/a] pepoihme/nh: labw\n e)pe/ciqi to\ bibli/on.
The encouragement from another matches the urging of his comrades (`eamus, faciamus') in 2.9.17, at the foot of the other tree (observation by J. Freccero, in T. C. Heller et al., Reconstructing Individualism [Stanford, Cal., 1986], 26). That conversion comes about by hearing the word, through whatever mediator, is a common late antique topos, well captured by F. Tombeur, Latomus 24(1965), 159-65. There is a silent counter-model here, to which attention was called by J. Preaux, Latomus 16(1957), 314-25. In the Phaedo 97b-99d, Socrates tells of his own non-conversion by the book. He heard a man reading from a book of Anaxagoras; thinking to find wisdom there, he made the same gesture that A. makes here: (98b) pa/nu spoudh=| labw\n ta\s bi/blous w(s ta/xista oi(=os t' h)= a)negi/gnwskon. But he was disappointed (no conversion, no submission to the content of the books occurred), and went away resolved on the more characteristically autarchic mode of wisdom espoused by the western philosophical tradition ever since.
The earliest `citation' of this line known to me is from Isidore's versus 1.1-4 (on his library PL 83.1107; ed. Beeson, 157):
sunt hic plura sacra, sunt hic mundalia plura;
ex his si qua placent carmina, tolle lege.
prata vides plena spinis et copia floris;
si non vis spinas sumere, sume rosas.
ludendi: It is oddly apt that a work that has much to say early on about the play of boys should suddenly hinge on the gropings of memory to recover what it knew about those games: See 1.9.15, `delectabat ludere' : cf. `amore ludendi' (1.10.16, 1.19.30), and see on 8.6.14, `lusoriam'.
nihil aliud interpretans: Divine inspiration more often comes from hearing scripture: s. 71.5.8, `hodie autem lectiones audiens, de quibus vobis esset sermo reddendus, cum evangelium legeretur, ita pulsatum est cor meum ut deum crederem velle aliquid hinc per meum ministerium vos audire'; sim. at ss. 52.1.1, 180.4.4, 352.1.1. Courcelle, Les Confessions 180, makes a further argument: this line shows that A. took the voice immediately as a divine message. On another level, what is important here is that A. interprets the voice as a command that he will obey (M. Miles, Jour. Amer. Acad. Rel. 50, 356): `His response is obedience, the trusting appropriation of the message as for him. It is this response that he must hereafter remember and reinforce.' To have the `realistic' reading of the scene (A. hears voice, wonders what to make of it, decides it is a divine command to open a book), Courcelle argues, the text should have read `nihil aliud interpretans nisi divinitus mihi iuberi ut'. Indeed the Maurists, with support of MSS now recognized as not authoritative, have exactly the reading that Courcelle thinks more `realistic' --a sign of the force of the `realistic' reading in the history of the interpretation of this text.
divinitus: C. Andresen, reviewing Bolgiani, La conversione, at Gnomon 31(1959), 353, drew attention to the parallel to the vita Antonii 2 (quoted on 8.6.15; n.b. `quasi divinitus', but see cautions there necessary because of the variety of translations) and asks how far consciousness of the model text has influenced reporting of the events here. On divinitus admoneri/demonstrari, see M. Dulaey 116n66, quoting parallel phrases at ep. 162.5 and cat. rud. 6.10 (`quod si forte divinitus admonitum vel territum esse respondit, ut fieret christianus . . .').
aperirem codicem et legerem: A. seems at times to be hostile to taking sortes in this way; see first conf. 4.3.5 (that consulting poets for oracular messages leads sometimes to sense, but only by chance), then div. qu. 45.2 (the same theme and some of the same vocabulary [`non arte sed sorte'], not specifying whether biblical or secular texts are in question), and ep. 55.20.37, `hi vero qui de paginis evangelicis sortes legunt, etsi optandum est ut hoc potius faciant quam ad daemonia consulenda concurrant, tamen etiam ista mihi displicet consuetudo, ad negotia saecularia et ad vitae huius vanitatem propter aliam vitam loquentia oracula divina velle convertere.' But these texts do leave a window through which it is possible to see the use of biblical sortes for strictly religious purposes, not as something sought out deliberately, but accepted when it occurs as it were spontaneously. There the relevant text is perhaps ep. 80.3 to Paulinus, quoted above on vocem. The phenomenon is not an isolated one; for a window into the practice reflected in the hist. aug., see Y. de Kisch, MEFR 82(1970), 321-362 (with bibliography at 324n1), esp. 360-2 for the `convergence significative entre l'Histoire Auguste et les écrivains chrétiens'. On the `ominous' context, see J. Balogh, Zschr. für die neutest. Wiss. 25(1926), 265-70.
audieram: Courcelle, Les Confessions 193, remarks (telling in favor of historicity) that if this episode were a simple calque on Antony, A. would have been careful to conceal this fact rather than call attention to it.
admonitus: See on 7.10.16.
vade, vende: Mt. 19.21, `si vis perfectus esse, vade, vende omnia quae habes, et da pauperibus; et habebis thesaurum in caelis, et veni, sequere me.' The verse cannot have been new to A. (Faustus the Manichee uses it to describe his own career at c. Faust. 5.1), but he does not make much use of it outside sermons, and the only attestations before conf. are c. Adim. 21. (conflated with Mt. 16.24, `et tolle crucem tuam', to scandalize the docetic Manichees) and en. Ps. 94.11 (393); then a relative spate of citations contemporary with or shortly after (s. Guelf. 30.5 , s. Caill. 2.19.4 , s. Den. 17.5 [before 400], virg. 45.46 , en. Ps. 80.1 ); cf. s. 38.5.7 (undated), attributing the rich young man's question to timor mortis (cf. on 6.16.26). In after years the verse became a regular feature of his homiletics, public and private (e.g., among many, ep. 157.4.39, and cf. ss. 85-6).
et da et da D2 GO: da C D1 S Knöll Skut. Ver.
Cf. ss. 85.1.1, 86.2.2.
arripui: Already used of taking up Paul (7.21.27, where see notes), to be used of taking up the Psalter (9.12.31), and also of `taking' a new life: 8.6.15, 8.10.24.
non in comessationibus . . . : Readings tending to support comessationibus: C2 DG2 O Ver. Readings tending to support comisationibus: C1 G1 S Knöll Skut.
Rom. 13.12-13, `nox praecessit, dies autem appropiavit. abiciamus ergo opera tenebrarum et induamur arma lucis. (13) sicut in die honeste ambulemus, non in comessationibus et ebrietatibus, non in cubilibus et impudicitiis, non in contentione et aemulatione, sed induite dominum Iesum Christum et carnis providentiam ne feceritis in concupiscentiis.' On the absence of this verse in A.'s earlier writings, see L. C. Ferrari, Aug. Stud. 11(1980), 5-20, arguing at 17 that `those particular texts did not function in the real conversions of Augustine and Alypius after the manner in which these are depicted in the Confessions.' Given that, as Ferrari admits, A. was clearly reading Paul eagerly at this date (conf. 7.21.27, corroborated by c. acad. 2.2.5), this argument should take the form that in the construction of the artistic representation here of his `conversion', A. selected apt Pauline texts of the sort that affected him and Alypius then, selecting for effect and brevity; on that reading, we should take these passages as saying something like, `I read Romans especially, a book that left me with this sort of message . . .' That argument is tenable, but strained. If we press the baptismal link of this verse (through Gal. 3.27-28, quoted above), then the verse here is literally apt only of the decision to which it led, accepting baptism the following spring (see discussion of the resulting tension below).
A further layer of implication here can perhaps be disengaged, with the help of ep. 22.. Written to bishop Aurelius of Carthage in 392/3, the letter is most famous for its strictures against African rites of the sort that Monnica found banned in Italy (6.1.1). At ep. 22.1.2, A. quotes Rom. 13.13, the first occurrence of this text in A.'s writing, and interprets it in a triadic way. There is no specific parallel to 1 Jn. 2.16, but the second and third pairs of vices condemned are clearly taken as arising from concupiscentia carnis (22.1.3, `horum ergo trium cubilia et impudicitiae ita magnum crimen putatur, ut nemo dignus non modo ecclesiastico ministerio, sed ipsa etiam sacramentorum communione videatur, qui se isto peccato maculaverit. et recte omnino') and ambitio saeculi (22.2.7, `horum autem morborum mater superbia est et humanae laudis aviditas'). Lawless, Rule ix and 14-28, suggests a reflection here of the triad avaritia, luxuria, and ambitio, but does not establish a rigorous parallel (or cite 1 Jn. 2.16).
Parallel texts: mor. 2.14.32 (quoting Rom. 14.1), exp. prop. Rom. 69 (77), ss. 205.1 (quoting the same words as here), 230, 366.5 (authenticity doubtful: cf. Verbraken), s. Den. 8.1, s. Frang. 7.6, en. Ps. 118. s. 20.3, spec. ad loc., and a more remote echo at s. 4.3.3.
At doctr. chr. 4.20.40 (from the section finished c. 426), he criticizes the clausula of the translation here (`et carnis providentiam ne feceritis in concupiscentiis'), assigning this passage to the middle style, designed to delectare, not of the high style, designed to flectere (cf. Cic. or. 21.69).
That the search for continentia and the approach to the incarnate Christ are linked seems clear from the texts; the best modern discussion is that of Van Bavel 8n8. There is a tension, unresolved in A.'s text, between the moment of conversion of 386 and the moment of baptism of 387. What is the decisive moment? A churchman ought to say the latter, A. implies the former. The flat fact is, baptism does not have visibly magical effect. (Hence, e.g., the casuistic cavils that A. must deal with in bapt. 1.12.18, `quid si ad ipsum baptismum fictus accessit, dimissa sunt ei peccata an non sunt dimissa?') Clearer is trin. 12.7.12, `si ergo spiritu mentis nostrae renovamur et ipse est novus homo qui renovatur in agnitionem dei secundum imaginem eius qui creavit eum, nulli dubium est, non secundum corpus neque secundum quamlibet animi partem sed secundum rationalem mentem ubi potest esse agnitio dei, hominem factum ad imaginem eius qui creavit eum. secundum hanc autem renovationem efficimur etiam filii dei per baptismum Christi, et induentes novum hominem, Christum utique induimus per fidem.' (The remoteness of A.'s reading of this verse from our own is best exemplified at s. 4.3.3 [no earlier than 410], where paraphrase of this verse ends in the challenge, `sed tantummodo quomodo angeli vivunt'. The continence A. has in mind is a lofty notion.)
Did he hear the verse from Ambrose? Before or after this moment in the garden? Amb. exam. 1.10.38 (discussing night/day at the end of his discussion of the first day of creation): `non enim est integrum diei tempus et noctis, nisi fuerit expletum. unde et nos semper quasi in die honeste ambulemus et abiciamus opera tenebrarum. noctem enim ad quietem corporis datam esse cognoscimus, non ad muneris alicuius et operis functionem, quae somno et oblivione transcurritur. non sit in nobis comessatio et ebrietas, cubile et impudicitia, non dicamus: tenebrae et parietes operiunt nos, et quis scit si videbit altissimus? sed sit in nobis amor lucis et cura honestatis, ut tamquam in die ambulantes opera nostra coram deo lucere cupiamus, cui est honor laus gloria potestas cum domino nostro Iesu Christo et sancto spiritu a saeculis et nunc et semper et in omnia saecula saeculorum amen.' The date of Amb. exam. is controverted (see on 7.9.13): 386 or 387? If 386, we must bear in mind that we know little of A.'s state of mind around Easter 386: might he already have thought of taking baptism at the Vigil that spring? (Recall the thought-experiment about taking baptism while entertaining Photinian opinions [bapt. 4.16.23], discussed on 7.19.25.) If 387, was Amb. indirectly playing to one of his neophytes, for whom he knew that that particular verse had been important the preceding summer? Cf. also Rom. 13.12, quoted at de Isaac vel anima 4.37, in a context that is, if not baptismal, redolent of decisive conversion. Other echoes of the verse in Ambrose occur (e.g., de fide 3.1.5, reading `carnis curam ne feceritis in concupiscentiam', exp. Ps. 45.14), but none seems apposite.
Courcelle, Recherches 201n1, thinks that Rom. 13.13 is the verse A. was reading before Ponticianus came: `il paraît clair que, si la conversation s'est engagée sur le monachisme, c'est parce qu'Augustin a déclaré a Pontitianus qu'il était en train de lire le verset XIII, 13 de l'épître aux Romains, qui justement prêche la continence. Quelle raison aurait eue Pontitianus d'engager un récit sur Antoine à propos de n'importe quel passage des épîtres de Paul?' It is clear (as we have seen above) that the issue on A.'s mind was already continence, on which Paul has more than one pithy verse to offer; the effect of the garden scene is lost unless the verse strikes A. as apt by sheer happenstance. If `monasticism' was A.'s idea here, he was painfully slow about pursuing it: not until 389 did he set up in any genuinely `monastic' environment. On the other hand, the issue as he poses it to himself is delivery from concupiscentia carnis (mainly, but not exclusively, sexual). To that end, the passage is indeed apt.
non in contentione et aemulatione: agon. 10.11, `omni modo incommutabilis intellegitur deus, sed ab eis qui non in contentione et aemulatione et vanae gloriae cupiditate amant loqui quod nesciunt [7.20.26, `garriebam plane quasi peritus'], sed humilitate christiana sentiunt de domino in bonitate et in simplicitate cordis quaerunt eum.'
induite: See also Eph. 4.24, `et induite novum hominem qui secundum deum creatus est', and Gal. 3.27, quoted above. Opinions will differ whether to see an early echo of this notion at sol. 1.1.3, `deus qui nos eo quod non est exuis, et eo quod est induis' --written, as all admit, when he had been reading Paul attentively. Does the present text suggest a baptismal garment? Brown, Body and Society 349n43, says that Amb. equates baptism with `putting on Christ', but the references he supplies (mys. 3.8 and 4.20) offer no support for that claim; see above for what parallels there are in Amb. A connection to image/likeness doctrine is made at trin. 12.7.12, quoting Col. 3.9-10 (and quoted above). See also s. 166.3.3, `indue Christum, et eris verax: ut quae locutus fueris, non tua sint quasi propria et abs te instituta, sed inlustrantis te et inluminantis veritatis' --by implication there, this `donning Christ' makes confessio possible.
statim quippe . . . diffugerunt: What exactly does this sentence say? It records, in metaphorical language, a purely subjective experience of tension giving way to relief, darkness to light, agitation (cf. `concitus' above) to peace. But what does it mean? That he had made a firm resolution to abstain from sexual intercourse henceforth? Even in the next paragraph, he speaks only of abandoning plans for marriage and career, and gives no indication of the concrete steps he took to give effect to his resolve. This reticence leaves emphasis on the Christological and concupiscent implications, hence on the subjective aspects of the event.
luce: i.e., lumen verum (Jn. 1.9); cf. 10.1.1, `venit ad lucem', etc. Eph. 5.8, `fuistis enim aliquando tenebrae, nunc autem lux in domino.' en. Ps. 139.14, `quando volumus mutare vitam transfixi sagitta dei, et impediunt nos malae linguae hominum, . . . et volunt seducere a via veritatis, potiusque inducere ad errores suos, et dicere nobis quia si professi fuerimus, non implebimus. . . . qui erat heri ebriosus, hodie sobrius est; qui erat heri adulter, hodie castus est; qui erat heri raptor, hodie largitor.' Sim. at en. Ps. 136.8; Eph. 5.8 occurs in same breath with Rom. 13.13 at s. Guelf. 8.1.
dubitationis dubitationis C2 D G O2 S edd.: dubitationes C1 O1
text of 8.12.30
What did they tell Monnica? Perhaps, even probably, that they had decided to take baptism eight or nine months hence, but more definitely that A. had chosen to change his ways. The second concubine was apparently bundled off (to receive much less sympathy from history than the first). Given A.'s self-image of one weak and incontinent and his history of conversions and loquacious dithering, there must have been doubt on all sides whether this new resolve would last. The lapse of time until baptism was then providential, offering time to test resolve. Cassiciacum made sense both as a place to test resolve and as a way to avoid whatever temptations court and urban life had to offer. What we see of Cassiciacum in the dialogues suggests that temptation was not pressing.
infirmum autem in fide recipite: Rom. 14.1, `infirmum autem in fide recipite, non in diiudicationibus cogitationum.' mor. 2.14.32, `planius hoc indicant superiora et sequentia, quae commemorare longum est quidem, sed propter eos qui ad divinas scripturas legendas et pertractandas pigri sunt totum istum locum retexere cogimur: infirmum autem in fide adsumite inquit non in disceptationibus cogitationum.' (There is no satisfactory ed. of mor.; adsumite is the reading of the Vg.) s. Morin 1.2 (quoting this verse), `non nobis usurpemus diiudicare cogitationes aliorum: sed deo praebeamus orationes nostras, etiam pro illis de quibus forte aliquid dubitamus. forte dubitat aliquid novitas ipsius: amate abundantius dubitantem, amore vestro amovete de corde infirmi dubitationem. interim faciem videte, de qua gaudeatis; cor deo committite, pro quo oretis. sciatis eum deseri a malis, suscipiatur a vobis. plus amate hominem, quam prius oderatis errorem.' Sim. at exp. prop. Rom. 70 (78).
There is both flattery and caution in giving this text to Alypius; `infirmos' at 7.19.25 and `infirmus' at 7.20.26 make it clear that Alypius's text is not a put-down for him, but that A. was `infirmus' too; at the same time, infirmity in faith is an appropriate temptation for one who has always been beset more by curiositas than anything else (see on 6.12.22). But see on 9.4.7 for the evidence on the intensity of Alypius' conversion.
aperuit: See on 8.11.27.
admonitione: See on 7.10.16.
turbulenta: See on 8.8.19, `mente turbatus'.
indicamus: gaudet: 2.3.6 (Patricius on A.'s fresh manhood: the same words at the beginning and end of A.'s active sexual life, in both cases as reported to M.), `gaudens matri indicavit.'
ultra quam petimus: Eph. 3.20, `ei autem qui potens est omnia facere superabundanter quam petimus aut intellegimus, secundum virtutem quae operatur in nobis.' Cf. 9.10.26, 10.30.42.
convertisti enim me ad te: Cf. Ps. 21.28, `convertuntur ad dominum universi fines terrae'; Ps. 50.15, `et impii ad te convertentur'; Ps. 6.11, `convertantur et erubescant valde velociter.'
ut nec uxorem . . .: Here at length A. says what decision he has taken before the world; the last phrase, together with the `induite dominum Iesum Christum' above in 8.12.29, shows that his intention was to seek baptism, esp. in light of Poque's article discussed with ref. to M.'s vision at 3.11.19.
nec aliquam spem saeculi huius: See on 8.7.18, `spe saeculi'.
convertisti luctum eius in gaudium: Ps. 29.12, `convertisti planctum meum in gaudium mihi'; en. Ps. 29. en. 1.12, `nunc in dedicatione domus tuae dico, convertisti . . .'; also quoted as `in Psalmo dedicationis domus' at c. Faust. 12.36, ss. 163.3.3, 336.3.3, 337.2.2, en. Ps. 29. en. 1.1. The church is `built' by baptism; the book ends on a note that generalizes its message beyond A.
As F. Van Fleteren has pointed out, the conf. are replete with conversion stories: he counts fifteen on a generous reckoning. His analysis of the Formgeschichte of these stories repays study, in Collectanea Augustiniana (New York, 1990), 65-80.
Two passages from Ambrose's letter to Simplicianus on Paul are reflected elsewhere in conf.: see on 1.12.19 and 7.10.16.
The word continentia as the opposite of libido is already common in CL (Cic. Catil. 2.25, Sall. Catil. 2.5, and cf. Cic. inv. 2.164, `continentia est per quam cupiditas consilii gubernatione regitur' --quoted in div. qu. 31.1).
Alfaric 139-143 synthesizes a Manichean view of sexuality in this vein; see also Decret, L'Afrique 1.30-36.
Other unsuccessful attempts: to show that A. knew Victorinus' hymn on the trinity: P. Frassinetti, Gior. Ital. Filol. 2(1949), 50-9; to show that A. had read V.'s adversus Arium: H. Somers, REAug 7(1961), 105-125, ruled out by Hadot's article.
Poque, art. cit. 134, notes that A. for the most part avoids the word symbolum in his writing, except in his own sermons to competentes.
The classic statement of A.'s view as Dihle approaches it is civ. 14, esp. 14.6ff.
The vita may not have been written by Athanasius (R. Draguet, La vie primitive de S. Antoine [Louvain, 1980: CSCO 418, Scriptores Syri 184], 109*-12*), but A. knew of no reason to doubt the conventional attribution.
But for perspective, cf. the view of the seventeenth-centry J. le Clercq (see PL 47.210): `redolet hoc superstitionem ethnicam, ex fortuitis vocibus omina captantem; quod nemo paulo humanior ignorat. si quis singulari providentia divina factum hoc putet, ita ut aestuanti Augustino editum caelitus sit monitum, oportebit ut ostendat opus fuisse eiusmodi miraculo, quo Augustinus intellegere posset sibi legendam scripturam sacram, ut ex ea resciret quid sibi agendum esset. quod cum quotidie audiret a catholicis, cum in ecclesia, tum alibi, non video cur confugiendum sit ad miraculum. sed rhetor noster, quod cum pace eius dictum sit, omnia exaggerat. . . .'
It would be easier to accept that the scene contains a heavy dose of consciously fictional elements (as opposed to a stylization of historical ones) if Courcelle had adduced other passages where A. makes up pretty little scenes out of whole cloth and passes them off as his own eyewitness testimony.
It would be hard to refute the proposal of A. Sizoo, Vig. Chr. 12(1958), 104-106: the voice was that of a child in the neighboring house who saw a strange man lying sprawled beneath a fig tree and cried out to urge him to bestir himself to collect the fruit that had fallen from the tree--perhaps even a cry that was customary around Milan in fruit-gathering season, but that was unknown to an African provincial.
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