When Was Saint Augustine Born

St. Augustine Biography

Background Information about the Author On November 13, 354 at the village of Thagaste, on what is now Algeria’s northern coast, Saint Augustine of Hippo was born. He was the first Christian martyr to be martyred. North Africa was a component of the Roman Empire, however it was seen as something of a backwater since it was so far away from the imperial centers of authority. It is believed that Augustine’s father Patricius (or Patrick) was adecurio, or a low-ranking officer in the Roman empire.

As a result of this obligation, the family’s finances were likely put under continual strain, which may explain Augustine’s claims that his family was impoverished.

In addition to being a pagan, Patricius was also a follower of the Roman civic religion.

Patricius was just a lukewarm Christian, but he enabled Monica to raise the couple’s children as Christians, and he eventually committed to Christianity before his death in a car accident.

  • Patricius, on the other hand, had little impact on Augustine’s personality, and Patricius emerges in the Confessions as a remote and ambiguous figure.
  • He was sent to the adjacent town of Madaura for further studies, but due to a lack of funds, he was obliged to return home to Thagaste for a year, during which time his father attempted to save more money to cover the cost of tuition.
  • Augustine’s parents were more concerned with his academic performance than with his personal behavior.
  • He studied literature and poetry there in preparation for a future as a rhetor, a professional public speaker and rhetorical educator.
  • In Carthage, he established a home with a concubine, who would later become the mother of his son, Adeodatus, who was born about 372.
  • He believes this book instilled in him the drive to pursue truth in whatever form he may find it.
  • Attracted to Manichaeism by its clear demarcation between good and evil, its highly intellectual mythology, and its severe moral standards, Augustine studied it for several years.

Augustine went on to have a thriving career as a public speaker and educator.

Despite the fact that Augustine’s time in Rome was unsatisfactory, his abilities grabbed the attention of a Roman official, who nominated Augustine for the job of public orator for the imperial city of Milan.

The application of Neo-Platonic ideas to the interpretation of Christian scripture, presented with Ambrose’s famous eloquence, piqued Augustine’s interest.

Throughout his life, Augustine had been growing more disillusioned with Manichaeism, and Ambrose’s influence led him to end his association with them.

Meanwhile, Augustine’s professional life was thriving, and his long-term prospects seemed promising.

In the fall of 386, he had a conversion experience that led him to sacrifice his professional ambitions and future marriage chances in order to devote his life entirely to the service of God.

He was ultimately baptized by Bishop Ambrose on Easter Sunday in 387.

They were on their way back to Africa when they were delayed.

After his exile from Rome, Augustine retreated to Thagaste, where he lived on his family’s farm in a tiny quasi-monastic community until his death in 389.

In 391, he traveled to the city of Hippo Regius, which is about 60 miles away from Thagaste, with the intention of establishing a monastery, but he ended up being conscripted into the priesthood by a Christian congregation in the city of Hippo Regius instead.

Over the following 35 years, he spent his time preaching, celebrating mass with his congregation, mediating local issues, and ministering to them.

As a result of this division, the Christian church in North Africa was split into two competing groups, the Donatists and the Catholics.

Following the conclusion of the persecutions, the Catholic Church re-admitted those Christians who had publicly repented of having rejected their Christian religion.

Furthermore, they refused to acknowledge any priests or bishops other than their own, claiming that the Catholic bishops had been anointed by traitors and hence were not legitimate.

Augustine attempted diplomacy with the Donatists at initially, but they rejected his efforts, leading him to advocate for the use of force against them in the long run.

Although Donatism was outlawed by the Roman authority in 405, the fight persisted until 411.

Donatism was stifled by the imposition of heavy legal sanctions.

A disaster shook the Roman world during the height of the Donatist conflict.

Rome was the symbolic capital of an empire that had dominated the known world for hundreds of years.

As a result, Augustine began composing his greatest masterwork, The City of God Against the Pagans, which he labored on for 15 years and is considered his best achievement.

At around the same time that Rome was falling, a religious movement known as Pelagianism started to spread across the church, calling for a fundamental renewal of spiritual and physical discipline.

Pelagius was appalled by what he perceived to be the apparent helplessness of human beings implied by Augustine’s words.

Pelagius argued that human beings can choose to achieve moral perfection through sheer force of will — and not only that they can, but that they must — and that this is the only way for them to be happy.

Christians may and should try to be good, but they must also acknowledge their fallen position and their reliance on God’s grace in order to do so.

In any case, Pelagianism continued to have a significant influence, and Augustine spent his final years engaged in a long-distance argument with Julian of Eclanum, a brilliant and outspoken champion of Pelagianism.

Augustine associated the birth of sexual desire with the beginning of human disobedience, which he said was the result of Adam and Eve’s original sin, which blemished all of humanity.

He was adamant that sexual desire was merely another of the physical senses and that God’s justice would not punish the entire human race as a result of the disobedience of a single individual.

In light of Augustine’s contention that only God’s grace can drive human beings toward salvation, the question of how God selects those who would be saved became essential.

A form of uprising broke out among numerous French monastic communities in the year 428 as a result of this argument.

Augustine acknowledged that predestination was a difficult issue in response to letters from the monks, but he refused to concede the point.

The Vandals, another barbarian tribe from Europe, invaded north Africa in 429, bringing the region under their control.

According to Augustine’s biographer, Possidius, he spent the last days of his life studying the penitential psalms that he had posted on the walls of his room and weeping over his sins, as well as praying for the conversion of others.

He died on August 28, 430, at the age of 75, and thus did not live to witness the Vandals’ invasion and conquest of Hippo in 431.

Augustine had a tremendous impact on the world that replaced it, the Christianized civilization of Medieval Europe, and he was a major figure in that development.

Many of these works have not yet been translated into English, despite the fact that a massive translation project is currently under way in this country.

The work of Augustine and his friend and biographer Possidius, despite the fact that he never completed this task, left future readers with a well-documented list of Augustine’s works.

Augustine was born in 397 and died in 427.

Four Things You Should Know about the Life of Saint Augustine

Our souls are restless until they find peace in you, for you have created us for yourself.” — St. Augustine of Hippo With the start of another academic year, we would want to recognize the influence of Saint Augustine, a real scholar who committed his life to rational theological research. On August 28, we commemorate the feast day of this fundamental thinker and teacher, whose influence on Christian theology and Western philosophy has been unequaled throughout history.

1. Augustine was an unlikely convert.

Saint Augustine was born in Northern Africa in the year 354 and is known as the “Father of the Church.” Despite the fact that he was reared by a devout Christian mother, he was a difficult youngster who eventually turned out to be an agnostic. At 383, he established a school of rhetoric in Rome, where he was a highly bright scholar who had acquired the best possible education. However, he became disillusioned with the city and relocated to Milan within a year. It was there that he met the bishop Saint Ambrose, who was a persuasive orator with a grasp of eloquence that he admired greatly.

Augustine was particularly taken aback by this purity, which played a crucial role in his eventual conversion.

The Basilica’s East Façade is decorated with a statue of Saint Augustine.

2. Reading Romans changed Augustine’s life.

The turning point in Augustine’s life is believed to have occurred one day while he was sitting in a garden and heard a kid yelling, “Take up and read! “Pick up your book and read!” Augustine opened his Bible, sensing a spiritual prompting, and found in the book of Romans an invitation to leave licentiousness and follow Christ. Up until this time, Augustine had fought mostly with sexual immorality and sensuality, but now he was unexpectedly struck with the reality of his sin and the need for salvation.

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Later, he was ordained, and in 395, he was elevated to the position of bishop of Hippo.

3. Augustine was a giant of Western philosophy.

When asked about Augustine’s significance, Pope Benedict XVI stated that he was “among the great figures in the history of thinking.” Aside from having a great influence on Christianity, Augustine has also had an impact on western culture and philosophy in general, and particularly on Western philosophy. His Confessions, according to some estimates, is regarded the earliest autobiography of the Western world, and it is possibly the “most widely read book of Christian antiquity.” In and of itself, the sheer amount of texts Augustine created during his lifetime is mind-boggling, with an estimated 3,000 letters and homilies, as well as an additional 1,000 more publications of major intellectual and theological depth.

In the words of the bishop Possidus, one of Augustine’s companions, “Augustine’s writings are so vast that it would be practically difficult for a scholar to study them all and know them all thoroughly.”

4. Augustine authored theConfessionsandCity of God.

‘Augustine’s Confessions’ are written in the style of a dialogue with the Almighty, as if Augustine were speaking directly to God. When discussing Augustine’s legacy, Pope Benedict XVI pointed out that the Latin wordconfessiones had two meanings: “confession” and “confessions.” As a first step, we must acknowledge our own failings and the wretchedness of sin; but, confessiones also implies praise for God and gratitude to him. Seeing our own wretchedness in the light of God leads to praise and appreciation for God, for God loves and accepts us, changes us, and raises us up to himself via his grace.

Following the fall of Rome in 410, pagans said that the disaster was precipitated by the growing influence of Christianity.

His book puts forth a theological framework that compares what he refers to as the City of God with the city of the world, as well as describing the teleology of both.

Saint Augustine is also commemorated throughout the Basilica’s chapels, including the Our Mother of Good Counsel Chapel, the Baldachin, and the Saint Catherine of Alexandria Chapel.

Sources:

“The Lives of the Saints” by Butler (ed. by Bernard Bangley) The Way of the Saints by Cowan

Who was St. Augustine? Everything You Need to Know

a few quick facts Date of birth: November 13,354 At the age of 75, he passed away. Scorpio is the zodiac sign of the sun. Augustine of Hippo (also known as Augustine of Hippo) Country of origin: Roman Empire Born at the city of Thagaste, in the country of Numidia (now Souk Ahras, Algeria) Philosophers, theologians, and philosophers are all terms used to describe people who are well-known. Family:Patricius Aurelius was the father. Saint Monica is the mother of Jesus. On August 28,430, he passed away.

  • As a Christian theologian of antiquity, he played a crucial part in the formation of early Western philosophy, which was defined by the fusion of Greek philosophy with Judeo-Christian religious traditions.
  • Despite the fact that he is considered to be one of the most important characters in Western Christianity, he did not become a Christian until he was 31 years old.
  • After years of being perplexed, he finally perused the Holy Scriptures and came to the conclusion that the only way to redemption was via Jesus Christ.
  • The title “Doctor of the Church” was bestowed upon him as a recognition for his contributions to Christian teaching and practice.
  • His influence on Western religion was so profound that his writings, such as ‘Confessions’ and ‘City of God,’ are still frequently read and discussed.
  • His father was a pagan, but his mother was a Christian, and they came from a respectable upper-class family with a good reputation.
  • He absorbed Latin literature as well as information on pagan beliefs and rituals while he was there.

Even though his mother had brought him up in the Christian faith, he felt a strong draw toward the Manichaean religion.

Continue reading farther down this page.

Later on, he relocated to Carthage, where he taught rhetoric for nine years before returning to his own city.

In late 384, he acquired a position as a professor of rhetoric at the imperial court in Milan, which he held until his death.

In Milan, he met Saint Ambrose, who had a profound impact on his way of thinking and his philosophy.

In 386, he made a solemn conversion to Christianity, and he was baptized by Saint Ambrose the following year.

Several of his original sermons have been preserved in their original form.

He was quickly advanced to the rank of full Bishop, earning him the nickname “Augustine of Hippo.” He remained in this role until 430.

Continue reading farther down this page.

The works are believed to have been written during the years 397 and 398.

His apologies, writings on Christian doctrine, and exegetical works are among the many works that have had a significant impact on the development of Christian theology throughout the centuries.

Known as a man of great intelligence, he has written on a wide range of religious topics, including Christian anthropology, astrology, ecclesiology, and so on.

Their relationship lasted for 13 years and resulted in the birth of a son.

However, his mother planned for him to be married to a girl of her choosing, but the engagement did not result in a marriage.

He was ill in the early months of 430 and spent his final days in prayer and penance, before passing away.

After his death, he was named a saint and canonized by Pope John Paul II.

Trivia When he was a youngster, he had his first encounter with “sin” when he took pears from a nearby neighbor’s garden. The anniversary of his death, which falls on August 28, is commemorated as a feast day. Monica, his mother, was also a saint of the early Christian church.

Saint Augustine — The Augustinians

In a Nutshell 13th of November, 354th year of birth At the age of 75, he passed away surrounded by family. Scorpio is the zodiac sign that rules the sun. Augustine of Hippo is also known by the following names: The Roman Empire was my birthplace and home. Thagaste, Numidia is where I was born (now Souk Ahras, Algeria) Philosophers, theologians, and philosophers are all terms used to refer to people who are well-known in their fields of study. Father: Patricius Aurelius; mother: Octavia; siblings: Saint Monica is the mother of the author.

  1. Hippo Regius, Numidia was the site of death (now modern-day Annaba, Algeria) lists of things to do in a city lists of things to do in a city Hippo Regius was a city in Northern Africa where Saint Augustine served as the bishop.
  2. As a Christian theologian of antiquity, he played a crucial part in the formation of early Western philosophy, which was defined by the fusion of Greek philosophy with Judeo-Christian religious traditions.
  3. His conversion to Christianity didn’t take place until he was 31 years old, despite his being one of the biggest characters in Western Christianity.
  4. The Holy Scriptures were studied by him after years of turmoil, and he became convinced that the only way to redemption was via the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for his sins.
  5. The title “Doctor of the Church” was bestowed upon him as a recognition for his contributions to Christian teaching.
  6. His influence on Western religion was so profound that his writings, such as ‘Confessions’ and ‘City of God,’ are still widely read.
  7. Despite the fact that his father was a polytheist and his mother was a Christian, they came from a respectable upper-class family.

He absorbed Latin literature as well as information on pagan beliefs and rituals when he was at the university there.

In spite of the fact that his mother had brought him up in the Christian faith, he was drawn to the Manichaean beliefs.

Continuation of the Reading It Might Interest You to Know lists of things to do in a city Lists of Things to Do Later in Life: For the years 373-374, he taught grammar at Tagaste, where he was employed.

Apathy among the Roman schools turned him away when he traveled there to start a school in 383; nonetheless, he returned in 384.

These were very prominent positions that allowed their occupants to quickly transition into a career in politics.

Ambrose was the first person he encountered in Milan, and his thoughts and philosophy were greatly inspired by him.

St.

‘On the Holiness of the Catholic Church,’ his Christian Apology, was completed in 388.

His original sermons have been meticulously preserved in a number of locations.

He was quickly raised to the rank of full Bishop, earning him the title “Augustine of Hippo.” He remained in this posture until 430 a.m.

Continuation of the Reading He penned ‘Confessions,’ a collection of thirteen volumes in Latin in which he detailed his conversion to Christian belief and practices.

Works of Significant Importance More than one hundred novels were written by him in his active writing career.

Among the many things that Saint Augustine is respected for is his contribution to Western religion and philosophy, which he accomplished via his teachings and sermons.

Legacy in One’s Own Life He had a relationship with a woman in Carthage when he was younger.

The reason he did not marry her was that she belonged to a different socioeconomic class than himself.

While this was going on, he had begun to have feelings for another lady, whom he finally ended up abandoning.

On the 28th of August in the year 430, he died of natural causes.

In 1298, Pope Boniface VIII elevated him to the rank of Doctor of the Church.

He is commemorated as a saint on the anniversary of his death, which falls on August 28th. He had a mother, Monica, who was also a saint of the early church.

St. Augustine

St. Augustine (354-430) was a Christian philosopher and theologian who is best known for his writings “The Confessions” and “The City of God.” Probably the most significant Christian writer since the authors of the New Testament, he is the author of the book of Revelation. While Augustine was the most famous and influential of the Latin Fathers of the Church, his life took place at a time when the Roman Empire was in serious decline and Christianity was gaining ground as an official religion in the Roman Empire.

  1. Throughout his life, Augustine’s battles with his personal spirituality paralleled the historical shift from a fading pagan antiquity to the Christian Middle Ages.
  2. On November 13, 354, Augustine was born at Tagaste (modern Souk-Ahras, Algeria), where he spent his early years.
  3. Despite her efforts to ensure that he received religious instruction, she decided to delay his baptism into his mother’s faith in accordance with local custom at the time.
  4. Cartage, despite successfully pursuing his academic goals, abandoned the Christian moral principles that he had learned during his childhood.
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Influence of Manichaeism

The conversation Hortensius, written by Cicero at the age of 19, was an admonition to the study of philosophy. Augustine was 19 when he read it. As Augustine put it, “Suddenly, all the vanities in which I had put my hope was shown to be useless, and with an extraordinary intensity of yearning, I yearned after everlasting understanding” (Confessions,III,4). In order to do this, Augustine accepted the Persian religion of Manichaeism. The Manichaeans believed that there were two conflicting powers of virtue and evil in the earth, which they termed Ormuzd and Ahriman, respectively.

  1. Augustine was drawn to Manichaeism because of its materialistic viewpoint and description of evil, which he found to be highly compelling.
  2. Over the course of this period, his faith in Manichaeism began to wane.
  3. Upon his return to Rome, Augustine began teaching rhetoric.
  4. As a result, the following year, he accepted a civic position as professor of rhetoric in Milan.

Augustine had been attracted to the scholarly skepticism of Carneades and Cicero during his time in Rome. The skeptics believed that absolute certainty about any issue was impossible to achieve and that, as a result, all of mankind’s views should be treated as suspect.

Influence of Platonism

The sermons of the bishop Ambrose left a lasting impression on Augustine when he was in Milan. Around Ambrose lived a group whose members were equally at home as Platonists as they were Christians. They considered Platonism to be both consistent with and an anticipatory of Christian thought. Augustine was persuaded to accept such a viewpoint after reading certain Platonic writings, most likely those of Plotinus and Porphyry, as well as meeting with Christian Platonists during his lifetime. It was the platonists’ spiritualistic metaphysics, as well as their notion that evil was only a deprivation of good, that superseded Augustine’s prior Manichean materialism in his thinking.

Although he witnessed an astonishing metamorphosis, he perceived it as purely cerebral.

Conversion to Christianity

This occurrence is mentioned in Augustine’s Confessions in the renowned “garden scene” section (VII, 12). When he heard a child’s voice say, “Take and read,” Augustine opened his Scriptures at random and found the following passage in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (13:13): “Do not be involved in rioting and drunkenness, do not be involved in chambering and impurities, do not be involved in contention and envy, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and do not make provision for the flesh in its desires.” Augustine then makes the following observation: “I had no desire or requirement to continue reading.

  1. After a three-year absence, Augustine returned to Tagaste and founded a monastic community.
  2. Until 430, Augustine kept himself busy with pastoral responsibilities as well as writing theological and philosophical writings.
  3. Augustine’s writings are just too numerous to include them all, even by title.
  4. There are also comments on various passages of the Bible.

Theory of Knowledge

Contra academicos is one of Augustine’s early works, in which he takes on skepticism and sets the framework for the possibility of knowing. He accomplishes this by drawing attention to propositions that even the most skeptical person cannot dispute. For starters, exclusive disjunctive statements may be relied upon to be correct. For example, it is definite that there is only one universe or that there are several worlds. It is likewise unassailable that the world has a beginning and an end, whether or not both are true at the same time, or that one is true but not the other, or that neither is true at all.

  • Only when the appearance of something is perceived as reality can error occur in a person’s judgment.
  • In addition, the correctness of mathematical judgements such as “two plus two equals four” is beyond question.
  • If there is no such thing as a person, then there can’t be any uncertainty or wrong.
  • Because both are well-known to be true, one recognizes that he has grasped the situation.
  • For example, mathematical and logical propositions have the unique property of being both eternally and necessarily true.
  • However, because the human mind is malleable and transitory, cognitions of eternal truths and standards are acts that are beyond the inherent capabilities of the human intellect.
  • A common belief among many Greek philosophers is that the ultimate goal of man is bliss or beatitude, and that such a state is the result of possessing wisdom.
  • Wisdom, on the other hand, is defined as Christian wisdom in Augustine’s eyes.

Creation from Nothing

Augustine’s Christian philosophy is founded on the premise that God created the universe out of nothing, which is one of the philosophical pillars. As a result, Augustine was hostile to the Neoplatonic concept of an universe that was created by God out of necessity. It is also necessary to reject the Greek concept of world formation, which is based on the paradigm of an artist creating an accomplished object from the resources at hand, in order to achieve “creation from nothing.” For a heavenly artisan to be able to work on such a model, prior and independent material must be available.

At first glance, Augustine’s hardline view on creation appears to have been tempered by his additional notion of seminal causes (De genesi ad litteram,VI, 6, 12).

Augustine’s adoption of this thesis was primarily motivated by issues of scripture interpretation, which he considered to be important.

According to Genesis, different types of things arose at different periods throughout the days of creation, which were sequentially ordered.

However, if one believes, as Augustine does, that all things were formed together from nothing but that certain things were created from nothing in a seminal state, to be brought into real formation later, the impression of contradiction is eliminated.

Time as Extension

The reliance of creation on God is also emphasized in Augustine’s handling of the concept of time. (Book XI of The Confessions has his most in-depth and intriguing study of the subject.) In their view, the idea of creation from nothing provides insufficient justification for why God should create at any one time rather than another, and it also raises the unanswerable issue of what God was doing before he created the universe, which they felt was unanswerable. This is how Augustine responds to such objections: he insists that they are founded on an incorrect assimilation of time to an event in time.

As a result, the concept of events occurring before to the beginning of time is rendered meaningless.

He recognized that time must be quantifiable in order for man to have temporal conceptions, and that time must have magnitude in order for man to have measurability.

His best guess is as follows: “The present of things past is represented by memory, the present of things present is represented by sight, and the present of things future is represented by anticipation.

Eternal Soul

The soul of a person is one of the things that comes into being over time. Augustine’s conception of the soul is firmly based in Platonic thought. According to him, it is a material that is different from and superior to the body, and that is connected to the body by a kind of vital awareness. The soul employs the body as an instrument in sensory experience, focusing more of its important attention on one organ than the others. Augustine asserts that, despite the fact that the soul is something that has come into being, it can never cease to exist.

For example, the soul is what it is because it is a part of a principle, life, that does not allow for the existence of anything else.

The emergence of the human soul is accompanied by a theological quandary.

The former viewpoint, when joined with the belief in original sin, leads to the conclusion that God would intentionally create something bad.

According to the latter viewpoint, Adam would have handed on to his successors a human soul that had been corrupted by his sin but had not been corrupted when God created it. Traducianism is the name given to the second point of view, and it was this point of view that Augustine was inclined.

Philosophy of History

Augustine’s fascination with time extends to his understanding of historical time. When it comes to the historical relevance of the Roman Empire, he makes a startling break with Christian thinking in The City of God. He writes: Prior to the 4th century, Christians had a natural tendency to regard Rome as a diabolical oppressor, which was understandable. When Christianity was formally accepted by the Roman Empire in 312, it appeared as though the empire had become the mechanism through which the Gospels were to be fulfilled.

  1. Augustine began work on The City of God three years later.
  2. As a matter of fact, Rome is only one of many empires that have come and gone, and the fate of the Church does not have to be tied to that of the Roman Empire.
  3. As defined by Augustine, a people is a “multitude of sensible individuals linked by their agreement in the things that they regard as important” (City of God,XIX, 24).
  4. One has the earthly city if one chooses self-love over love of God; if one chooses God over self-love, one has the heavenly city.
  5. To the contrary of Greek philosophers such as Hesiod and Plato, Augustine believes that ideals have existed in the past and may be rediscovered.
  6. The two cities will thereafter be able to exist in reality and independently.
  7. Between those two principles and today’s historical reality, the two values are intertwined in one historical reality.
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Further Reading on St. Augustine

One of the most widely used translations of Augustine’s works is Basic Writings of Saint Augustine, edited by Whitney J. Oates, which is one of the most widely used translations in the world (2 vols., 1948). Saint Augustine and His Influence through the Ages, by Henri I. Marrou (trans. 1957), is an excellent introduction that provides a summary of Augustine’s life and thinking, as well as concise translations from his writings, is a wonderful introduction. The biography Augustine of Hippo, written by Peter Brown in 1967, is a superb work that covers both the theological and practical elements of Augustine’s life and career.

Bourke’s Augustine’s Quest for Wisdom: Life and Philosophy of the Bishop of Hippo (1945), Jacques Chabannes’ Saint Augustine (trans.

The Christian Philosophy of Saint Augustine, by étienne Gilson, is written from a Thomistic perspective, yet it is still the best scholarly explanation of Augustine’s philosophy available today (trans.

1960). See also Herbert A. Deane’s The Political and Social Ideas of St. Augustine, which is available online (1963). Consult the enormous book, A. H. Armstrong, ed., The Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy, for an overview of the period’s philosophical ideas (1967).

Augustine of Hippo

Saint Augustine of Hippo (Aurelius Augustinus, 354-430 CE) was the first important philosopher of the Christian era and is considered to be the father of Western philosophy. It is thought that he served as Bishop of Hippo Regius in Numidia during the latter years of the Roman Empire, and his most renowned work, the City of God, explained what he considered to be the root reason of the fall. Some of his works dealt with topics such as original sin and free will, and his thoughts would have a lasting impact not just on the evolution of medieval theology but also on the theologians of the Protestant Reformation, who would follow him into exile after his death.

Early Life

Augustine was born in the city of Tageste, Numidia (modern-day Algeria), around 354 CE. He went to school at both Madaura and Carthage, where he learned grammar and rhetoric, before settling in Rome. While his mother was a Christian, his father was raised as a pagan until turning to Christianity, maybe on his deathbed, later in life. Years later, in his Confessions, Augustine would acknowledge that he had lived the life of a “libertine,” even admitting to having fathered a child of his own. Lord, please make me chaste, but not yet,” he says in one of his well-known quotes.

  • Mankind was a blend of Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Gnosticism, and it preached of the duality of good and evil, in which humanity was both somewhat good and entirely bad at the same time.
  • Both Plotinus’ theories and Neo-Platonic philosophy were integrated into the Church’s understanding of the nature of reality, with the belief that genuine insight could only be obtained by faith.
  • He then flew to Rome, where he was offered a post as the municipal professor of rhetoric in the Italian city of Milan.
  • In Milan, he became acquainted with the renowned theologian Bishop Ambrose (339-397 CE), who had combined Christianity with the teachings of the Athenian philosopher Plato during the time he spent there.
  • He would utilize his newly discovered enthusiasm for Neo-Platonism to defend and confirm Christian doctrine in the years to come.
  • “Socrates was the first to channel the entire body of philosophy into an ethical framework for the development and management of morality,” he asserted of Socrates.

As a source of inspiration, Augustine resorted to a boyhood favorite and source of inspiration: the Roman statesman and oratorCicero, as well as his study of philosophy in the philosopherHortensius Upon his conversion to Christianity, he was baptized in 387 CE and traveled to Hippo in North Africa, where he was consecrated as a priest, eventually rising to the rank of bishop in 395 CE.

Works

Augustine’s works fall on the precipice of theological and philosophical traditions. He is a prolific author, and his significant works include the following:

  • Written around the year 400 CE, Confessions is an autobiographical book. The City of God, a 22-volume epic produced between 413 and 425 CE, is a masterpiece of literature. The term “retractations” refers to a reexamination of his prior efforts.

Among his lesser-known publications are: Do you enjoy history? Subscribe to our free weekly email newsletter!

  • Discourses against academics
  • On the greatness of the soul
  • On free will
  • Discourses against Faustus the Manichaean
  • Discourses on grace and free will

His writings served as an intellectual basis for Christianity, which some people considered heretical at the time. While both philosophy and religion were devoted to the pursuit of truth, Augustine felt that only Christianity was the true truth and that, without faith, philosophy could never achieve truth. Both Plotinus’ theories and Neo-Platonic philosophy were incorporated into the Church’s understanding of the nature of reality, which held that genuine insight could only be obtained by faith.

Saint Augustine in His Cell (Saint Augustine in His Cell) Sandro Botticelli is a painter who lives in Florence, Italy (Public Domain)

The City of God

His most renowned work, The City of God, was written following the fall of Rome by the Visigoths in 410 CE. It is considered to be his best work. Each individual in this city of God is a citizen of two other planets at the same time, and this is known as dual citizenship. The one is the kingdom of God, which is unchanging and everlasting, and the other, which was not a novel concept to many Christians, was the kingdom of the unstable world, which was not a new concept to many Christians. Augustine wrote The City of God in order to rebut pagan claims that the collapse of the Roman Empire in the Western world was caused by the people’s abandonment of the ancient gods in favor of Christianity, which he believed to be untrue.

Despite the fact that many Romans continued to believe in their own narrative of the empire’s demise, Augustine maintained that the empire’s prosperity had been mostly due to its desire to rule the world.

Unlike the city of the world, where both the rulers and the people they control are dominated by the desire for dominion, all members of the City of God serve one another in the spirit of kindness.

The Question of Free Will

The concept of free will was one of the areas in which Augustine was criticized, and this was one of those areas. How can people retain their ability to choose if God is all-knowing? This disagreement was on the verge of devolving into predestination, which was not formally embraced by the Church at the time. It would not be until the Reformation and the arrival of John Calvin that it would become the mainstream theory. While Augustine thought that God may be all-knowing, he argued that this had no influence on the concept of free will.

  1. As a matter of fact, Augustine distinguished between two sorts of evil: moral sins such as murder and human pillage, and natural ills such as earthquakes and tidal waves, among others.
  2. To be virtuous is to exercise control over one’s own will; God is only a guidance.
  3. Augustine’s Waver) (CC BY-NC-ND) Augustine also made an attempt to define the notion of original sin in his writings.
  4. After choosing to defy God, Adam and Eve brought about widespread human misery as a result of their actions.
  5. Augustine stated in his work The City of God that “a great deal has been thought, said, and written” about the Garden of Eden, the bliss that was attainable there, the existence of our first parents, their transgression, and their punishment.

A decision has been taken in regards to the welfare of mankind. Those who live according to man are on one side of the spectrum, while those who live according to God are on the other. (Gochberg, 632) One receives the reward of heaven, and the other receives the penalty of hell.

SainthoodLegacy

430 CE saw the Vandals take Augustine’s homeland of Hippo, but he would not survive to see his home city surrendered to the Vandals. Even when the Vandals lay siege to Hippo, Augustine stayed, defiantly refusing to depart. He died on the 28th of August, 430 CE, after succumbing to a sickness and requesting isolation and seclusion. When Pope BonifaceVIII (r. 1294-1303 CE) declared him to be the patron saint of brewers and printers, the Catholic Church established August 28 as Saint Joseph’s Day to commemorate him.

However, it was during this time period that organized religion was established, and Augustine’s theology played an important role in the development of not only Christianity but also Western intellectual thinking throughout this century.

Augustine’s ideas would also be used by future philosophers such as Rene Descartes, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche.

Prior to publication, this paper was checked for correctness, dependability, and conformance to academic standards by two independent reviewers.

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