Letters - Vol. II

Letters - Vol. II

Letters - Vol. II

Letters - Vol. II

Excerpt

The letters in this volume (Numbers 83 to 130) were written in years 408 to 412. These five years were crowded and busy ones for Augustine, filled with the most varied problems of all sorts; he had, at times, to contend also with ill health. His conflict with Donatism reached its climax in the longed-for Conference between Catholics and Donatists held at Carthage in 411. Although it did not have the immediate effect of putting an end to the violent excesses of the Donatists, it did produce many conversions, and was, in fact, the beginning of the end for them. A contemporary event of terrifying importance was the sack of Rome by the Vandals under Alaric. This disaster drove many influential and wealthy Romans to Africa.

The list of his correspondents during these years is varied and impressive: bishops and priests, catechumens and deacons, public officials of high rank and authority, and, for the first time, women. St. Jerome does not figure in the correspondence of this period, except for an enigmatic fragment (123) which was formerly attached to Letter 195, but is now regarded by editors as part of an earlier letter than that one. Its tenor is so obscure that several widely varied interpretations of it are offered. There is no answer from Augustine. St. Paulinus of Nola is represented by one letter with the usual list of questions, which are painstakingly answered (94, 95) . . .

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