Multicultural Writers from Antiquity to 1945: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook

By Alba Amoia; Bettina L.Knapp | Go to book overview
Save to active project



Paul Archambault


To rely on Saint Augustine's Confessiones for the details of his life is to leave many questions unanswered. We must go to the De beata vita to know that he was born in Thagaste (present-day Souk-Ahras, in northeastern Algeria) “on the Ides [13th] of November, 354. His mother was a devout Christian; his father was a pagan and a “good husband” by the standards of the day, though an unfaithful and highly irascible one, served by his wife as her master (Confessiones 9.19). As a schoolboy Augustine nearly died of a serious stomach ailment. After three years of rhetorical studies in the neighboring city of Madaura (364-67), he pursued his university studies at Carthage (370). Sexually precocious and active, he was soon living with a young woman and by the summer of his eighteenth year had fathered a son whom he named Adeodatus, or “God-given.”

Reading Cicero's Hortensius at age nineteen convinced him for the first time that the intellectual life was a serious matter. He had been a clever student of “rhetoric, that is, literary studies combined with the study of oratory. In his Confessiones he looked back with loathing on the “damnable and frivolous” literary pursuits of his youth (3.4). He found his weeping over Dido's suicide “sinful” because he disregarded the “death” in his own soul (1.13). Thirsting for a life of wisdom after reading the Hortensius, he studied the holy Scriptures “to see what they were like, but their mysterious wisdom appeared at the time “unworthy of comparing with the dignity of Cicero” (3.5).

For nine years, from 374 to about 382, he adhered to the dualistic metaphysics of the Manicheans while teaching at Thagaste and at Carthage. In 383 he secretly left for Rome, where he frequented other members of the Manichean sect and grew increasingly skeptical about Manichean teachings. He was appointed in 384 to a chair of rhetoric at Milan, where he met Bishop Ambrose, whose preaching was to have a profound impact on his thinking. Augustine grew in-


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Multicultural Writers from Antiquity to 1945: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 497

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?