St. Augustine's Confessions

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Last updated: May 31, 2019

Confessions, was written by Aurelius Augustine, who was ordained in the Christian Church and was named Bishop of Hippo. Confessions, is like an account of Augustine’s life before accepted God and joined the Christian. “In his Confessions he set down, for the benefit of others, the story of his early life and his conversion to Christianity. ” (1113) In this autobiography he describes his childhood and his education then goes on to describe his life in adulthood before converting to Christianity. In his writing he talks about crying for Dido after reading The Aeneid. Why is his reference to Dido Important in his confession?What role does his education play in his Confession and in his conversion to Christianity? Augustine was born to a Christian mother and a non-Christian father.

As a child and young adult he was taught Greek Philosophy, Latin and Mathematics. Augustine though he hated his studies went on to become a teacher himself. Along the way to his adulthood Augustine committed sins against God and Christianity which he talked about in Confessions.

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Augustine and his friends had relations with women out of wedlock and stole for fun. He lived with a woman and had a son with her. “Meanwhile my sins were multiplied.She with whom I had lived so long was torn from my side as a hindrance to my forthcoming marriage. My heart which had held her very dear was broken and wounded and shed blood.

She went back to Africa, swearing that she would never know another man, and left with me the natural son I had had of her. ”(1127) Not only was he living with a woman but he had a child out of wedlock which is frowned upon in Christian and other religious communities. Thinking he was going to get married he sent his mistress away. This situation made him identify Dido’s situation and sympathize with what she went through in The Aeneid.Dido was abandoned by the man the man she loved and was so heartbroken that she killed herself. Augustine’s mistress suffered the same heartbreak that Dido suffered, when she was sent away by him so he could marry another woman. Seeing the heartbreak that she went through and realizing his own actions and the heartbreak he caused he felt guilty and wept for Dido.

I think he cried more for the woman he sent away than he cried for Dido. Reading about her and her situation made him realize the hurt he probably caused to the woman who had his son and lived with him for years. He is not ashamed of weeping for Dido but he is ashamed for what e did. Dido can be seen as a representation of his own sin and regrets. Seeing the fate that Dido met as the result of her heartbreak Augustine may be thinking if the woman he lived with met the same fate and is weeping for her.

This is his confession to God and this is his biggest sin. It’s all about him coming to grips with his relationship with God and accepting him in his life as his mother had prayed throughout his life. In his studies and teachings he read and taught Greek and Roman Literature. A lot of these literary works and philosophies went against the teachings of Christianity and their practice of monotheism.These literary works such as the Aeneid had worship of god other than the God that Christians worshiped.

The philosophies that were taught went against Christian belief and could be seen as blasphemy. Being a man of the Church Augustine had to see these teachings as going against his beliefs. “Those of my reputation at that time which were held as reputable were directed towards the study of the law, in which I meant to excel- and the less honest I was the more famous I should be. ” (1122) A lot of the philosophy sought to teach that there was no higher power at work which would go against Christian beliefs.Some of these tried to explain the reason man exists other than god as the creator which would be a form of blasphemy in the Christian world. I don’t agree with his belief that studying these is wrong. Just as with religion, someone may not agree with something they don’t understand or agree with and just because you don’t agree with it doesn’t mean that it is wrong.

Getting to know other cultures can help lead to tolerance which Christians has not always been tolerated by their neighbors. Lawall, Sarah. “Confessions” The Norton Anthology of Western Literature. Ed. Simon, Peter.

New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006. Pg. 1114-1141 print.

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