Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Book VIII, Chapter 1 - beginning of Chapter 6

Augustine begins with praise and thanksgiving for mercies done to him. Torn by conflict, Augustine goes to talk with Simplicianus who had been a mentor to Ambrose. Simplicianus was glad that Augustine had not fallen sway to certain of the philosophers and was glad for his keen interest in the Platonist's writings, of which Simplicianus says God and his Word were every where implied. Augustine wanted to be a Christian but wanted some direction on how to go about doing that. Simplicianus tells him the story of a one time pagan professor of rhetoric, Victorinus, who became a Christian. Inspired by the story, Augustine became on fire to be like him.

Augustine is still with his mistress but completely conflicted over it: “But I was still closely bound by my need of woman. Not that the apostle forbade me to marry, although he might recommend something better, his great wish being that all men should be as he was.” Augustine lets slip what I suspect is the real reason he chose not to marry: "I was tired out and wasted away with knawing anxieties, because I was compelled to put up with all sorts of things which I did not want simply because they were inseparable from that state of living with a wife to which I was utterly and entirely bound."

The allusions to Plato’s cave continue. “I was held back not by fetters put on me by someone else, but by the iron bondage of my own will. The enemy held my will and made a chain out of it. From a perverse will came lust, and slavery to lust became a habit, and the habit, being constantly yielded to, became a necessity. These were like links, hanging each to each (which is why I called it a chain), and they held me fast in a hard slavery.”

He is torn by conflict: “So my two wills, one old, one new, one carnal, one spiritual were in conflict, and they wasted by soul by their discord.”

And more allusions to Plato’s cave: “I shall tell and confess to your name how it was that you freed me from the bondage of my desire for sex, in which I was so closely fettered, and from my slavery to the affairs of this world.”

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