Friday, December 23, 2005

Book VIII, Chapter 11

…and so…after two chapters of relative intellectualization, Augustine returns to the description of his marathon of internal torment, with a poetically powerful chapter, again using in multiple places, the metaphor of Plato’s Cave.

“So I was sick and in torture. I reproached myself much more bitterly than ever, and I turned and twisted in my chain till I could break quite free.”

Augustine knows that he is close to liberation.

“Only a little of it still held me, but it did still hold me. And you Lord in the secret places of my soul, stood above me in the severity of your mercy, redoubling the lashes of fear and shame, so that I should not give way once more and so that the small weak piece of chain which still remained should not instead of snapping grow strong again and tie me down more firmly than before. ”

He describes his last teasing temptations.

“Toys and trifles, utter vanities had been my mistresses, and now they were holding me back, pulling me by the garment of my flesh and softly murmuring in my ear: ‘Are you getting rid of us?’ and ‘From this moment shall we never for all eternity be allowed to do this or to do that?’”

In two subsequent paragraphs, Augustine vividly describes himself as faintly turning towards continence, personifying Continence as a woman. To partially quote it would not do it justice.

Last, but not least, let us not overlook the importance of friends to Augustine, as he finishes the chapter. “And Alypius stayed close by me, waiting silently to see how this strange agitation of mine would end.”

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