Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Book I, Chapter 13

Here Augustine mentions fornication for the first time. From prior readings, I know that he mentions fornication throughout and often uses fornication as a (powerfull) metaphor for other sins. Given the curent context and approximate age of Augustine, it comes up unexpectedly in the text at this point. But I guess it relates to the Aeneas/Dido example.

(addressing God...)
"You I did not love. Against you I committed fornication, and in my fornication I heard all around me the words: Well done! Well done! For the love of this world is fornication against thee and when one hears these words: "Well done! Well done!" they have the effect of making one ashamed not to be that sort of person."

He starts off meaning fornication, literally, but in his statement, "For the love of this world is fornication against thee," it seems like he might be approaching any love of this world as being comparable to fornication. I wonder.

This chapter contains a number of contrasts. Earthly life and death. Spiritual life and death. Earthly love and love of the Divine. Augustine hates learning Greek but is fond of Latin. Usefull studies and Empty studies. Dido dies for love and leaves the audience in tears; yet, Augustine with dry eyes was dying far away from God. "What indeed can be more pitiful than a wretch with no pity for himself, weeping at the death of Dido, which was caused by love for Aeneas, and not weeping at his own death, caused by lack of love for you, God, light of my heart, bread of the inner mouth of my soul, strength of my mind, and quickness of my thoughts." With "His own Death," I believe Augustines is referring to a spiritual death, meaning hell/damnation--having lost the opportunity for eternal life.

Note the imagery of, "...bread of the inner mouth of my soul." Spaced throughout the Confession Augustine uses many powerful images. These image contribute significantly to the power of the text.

I imagine that this chaper in Latin must be wonderfully literary.


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