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Augustine, Confessions 2.9

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Augustine reflects on the group psychology of the teen gang with whom he infamously stole some pears.

quid erat ille affectus animi? certe enim plane turpis erat nimis, et vae mihi erat qui habebam illum. sed tamen quid erat? ‘delicta quis intellegit?’ risus erat quasi titillato corde, quod fallebamus eos qui haec a nobis fieri non putabant et vehementer nolebant. cur ergo eo me delectabat quo id non faciebam solus? an quia etiam nemo facile solus ridet? nemo quidem facile, sed tamen etiam solos et singulos homines, cum alius nemo praesens, vincit risus aliquando, si aliquid nimie ridiculum vel sensibus occurit vel animo. at ego illud solus non facerem, non facerem omnino solus.

What was that state of mind? It was, for sure, certainly and exceedingly depraved, and was woe to me who was in that state of mind. But still, what was it? ‘Who can understand his transgressions?’ [Psalm 18.13] There was laughter, as if our hearts were tickled because we were deceiving those who had no idea that we were doing these things, and who would have strongly desired that we should not do them. So why was I so delighted at that thing which I would not have done alone? Is it because no one laughs easily when they are alone? Certainly not easily, but still, even when no one else is present, sometimes laughter overtakes even people who are solitary and on their own, if something all too funny presents itself to their senses or mind. But I on my own would not have done that deed, on my own I would not have done it at all.

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September 12, 2013 at 12:00 PM

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Augustine, Confessions 13.1.1

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The opening of the last book of the Confessions.

invoco te, deus meus, misericordia mea, qui fecisti me et oblitum tui non oblitus es.

I call on you, my God, my mercy, you who created me and have not forgotten me, though I have forgotten you.

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September 12, 2012 at 12:00 PM

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Augustine, Confessions 6.7.11

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Augustine disapproves of his friend and pupil Alypius’ enthusiasm for following the chariot-racing.

nam et studuerat apud me, cum in nostro oppido docere coepi, et postea Carthagini, et diligebat multum, quod ei bonus et doctus viderer, et ego illum propter magnam virtutis indolem, quae in non magna aetate satis eminebat. gurges tamen morum Carthaginiensium, quibus nugatoria fervent spectacula, absorbuerat eum in insaniam circensium. sed cum in eo miserabiliter volveretur, ego autem rhetoricam ibi professus publica schola uterer, nondum me audiebat ut magistrum propter quandam simultatem quae inter me et patrem eius erat exorta. et compereram quod circum exitiabiliter amaret, et graviter angebar, quod tantam spem perditurus vel etiam perdidisse mihi videbatur.

He had studied under me when I began to teach in our town, and afterwards in Carthage; he held me in great esteem, since I seemed to him to be good and learned, and I esteemed him because of his great disposition for virtue, which was really quite conspicuous in one who was of no great age. But the whirlpool of Carthaginian fashions, in which the frivolous shows are hotly followed, had swallowed him down into the madness of the races. But he was being wretchedly tossed about in this whirlpool, while I was teaching rhetoric there in a public school; at this time he was no longer attending my lectures because of some animosity which had arisen between me and his father. I had also found out that he loved the racing to a pernicious degree, and I was grievously troubled, because I thought that he was going to destroy his great promise, or even that he had destroyed it already.

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August 23, 2012 at 12:00 PM

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Augustine, Confessions 11.14

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quid est ergo tempus? si nemo ex me quaerat, scio; si quaerenti explicare velim, nescio: fidenter tamen dico scire me quod, si nihil praeteriret, non esset praeteritum tempus, et si nihil adveniret, non esset futurum tempus, et si nihil esset, non esset praesens tempus.

So what is time? As long as no one asks me, I know. If someone asks me and I want to explain it to them, I don’t know. However, I can confidently say that I know that if nothing passed away, there would not be past time, and if nothing were still to come into being, there would not be future time, and if nothing were to exist, there would not be present time.

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December 4, 2011 at 12:00 PM

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Augustine, On the City of God 16.9

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In an influential passage, Augustine is not convinced by the idea that people live on the other side of the globe.

quod vero et Antipodas esse fabulantur, id est homines a contraria parte terrae, ubi sol oritur quando occidit nobis, adversa pedibus nostris calcare vestigia: nulla ratione credendum est. neque hoc ulla historica cognitione didicisse se adfirmant, sed quasi ratiocinando coniectant, eo quod intra convexa caeli terra suspensa sit, eundemque locum mundus habeat et infimum et medium; et ex hoc opinantur alteram terrae partem, quae infra est, habitatione hominum carere non posse.

As for the story they tell that there are also Antipodes – that is, men on the opposite part of the earth, where the sun rises when it sets for us, who walk with their feet opposite to ours – in no way is this to be believed. People affirm that they have not learned this through any historical knowledge, but they conjecture by reasoning, on the grounds that the earth is suspended within the convexity of the sky, and that the world has the same space beneath as above; and from this they suppose that the other part of the earth, which is below, cannot be without human habitation. 

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April 18, 2011 at 12:00 PM

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Augustine, Disputation against Fortunatus 17

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Augustine responds to Fortunatus who has just quoted Ephesians 2.1-18.

ergo nunc quaero abs te, secundum eam lectionem quae lecta est, quomodo habeamus peccata, si natura contraria nos cogit facere quod facimus? qui enim cogitur necessitate aliquid facere, non peccat. qui autem peccat, libero arbitrio peccat.

Therefore I ask of you, according to that passage which has been read, how are we to have sins if contrary nature forces us to do what we do? For the man who is forced to do something by necessity does not sin. But the man who does sin sins by free will.

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April 14, 2011 at 12:00 PM

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Augustine, Confessions 1.13

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Augustine recalls his schooldays – both the enjoyable (Virgil’s Aeneid) and less enjoyable (maths) aspects!

peccabam ergo puer cum illa inania istis utilioribus amore praeponebam, vel potius ista oderam, illa amabam. iam vero unum et unum duo, duo et duo quattuor, odiosa cantio mihi erat, et dulcissimum spectaculum vanitatis, equus ligneus plenus armatis et Troiae incendium atque ipsius umbra Creusae.

So I sinned as a boy when I loved those vain studies more that these more useful ones, or rather hated the latter but loved the former. ‘One and one are two, two and two are four’ – this was indeed a jingle I detested, while I delighted most in a show of vanity: the wooden horse full of armed men, the burning of Troy and the ghost of Creusa herself.

Written by aleatorclassicus

October 3, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Augustine