Born on 13 November 354, the son of a small-time farmer at Thagaste (Souk-Ahras in north-east Algeria) and a Christian mother Monnica, Augustine's training was as a teacher of the liberal arts, notably Latin literature ('grammar'), rhetoric or the art of persuasive public speaking, and logic. He was also informed about arithmetic, geometry, musical theory (though he never wrote a book on pitch), astronomy and medicine. Love of Cicero's prose and Vergil's poetry permanently marked his style. He also much admired the sombre writings of Sallust and knew well the comedies of Terence. Occasional allusive quotations from Juvenal and Seneca show him at home there. Aged 18, he read Cicero's defence of philosophy, the (lost) dialogue Hortensius, offering a guide to life and happiness. Briefly he picked up parts of the Bible, but was repelled by the banausic style of the Old Latin version, by the patriarchs' polygamy, and by the two divergent genealogies of Jesus. In any event he was attracted by the Manichee theosophy and explanation of the problem of evil, namely that while God is good, he is not all-powerful. For a decade he associated with a Manichee ascetic community, which did not discourage him from acquiring a concubine of low class sharing bed and board with her in much contentment. By her he had an unintended son Adeodatus who was educated as an orthodox Catholic; a boy of high intelligence, he died at the age of 16. In his memory Augustine wrote on non-verbal communication, often discussed with his son; gestures and tone of voice are more revealing than words, which in any event are incapable of expressing the deepest things. Texts show that in this age it was normal for young men to take a concubine until such time as they were earning their living and could acquire a regular wife.
In adult life he earned his bread by teaching, but riotous students at Carthage made him aspire to a similar post in Rome. There, however, he found the students evading payment of their fees. With the support of the powerful pagan prefect Aurelius Symmachus he was able to get a teaching post at Milan, residence of the western emperor Valentinian II as also of
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Publication information: Book title: The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great. Contributors: Henry Chadwick - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 2001. Page number: 473.
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