Thursday, August 15, 2013

A.D. 430

The year 430 is noted for the death of Augustine. He died at the age of 75 when the town where he served as bishop, Hippo, was besieged by the Vandals.

Augustine was a typically hedonistic youth. He had prayed:
Da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo. "Give me chastity, but not yet." (Augustine, Confessions 8.7).
When he was nineteen he read Cicero's Hortensius and decided to study philosophy. Yet, as Peter Brown notes, he was "the only Latin philosopher to fail to master Greek." (OCD 148). Still, it was a conversion. He would later convert to Manichaeism, and then to Neo-Platonic Christianity. "Augustine developed his ideas with an independence that disquieted even his admirers" (OCD 148). In part this is because "Augustine's major works are landmarks in the abandonment of classical ideals." (OCD 148).

Some people celebrate Augustine, others disdain him. I worry a bit when I see some who claim to be Christians who worship Augustine.