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Augustine, Saint (354–430)

  1. Paul R. Kolbet

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0102

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Kolbet, P. R. 2011. Augustine, Saint (354–430). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

Abstract

Augustine was a gifted orator and author whose books have been continuously read to the present day. Born in Thagaste, North Africa (modern Souk-Ahras, Algeria), Augustine received a classical education that greatly emphasized the discipline of rhetoric. Subsequently, he taught rhetoric in Carthage, then in Rome, and finally, in 384 he was appointed the municipal orator of Milan, the imperial residence. After some years of spiritual searching, including nearly a decade as a Manichaean, Augustine was baptized as a Catholic in 386 by Ambrose of Milan, ordained a priest in 391, and made bishop of the same city in 395 or 396. At a time when to write meant conforming to defined genres, in his early dialogues Augustine showed both his mastery of classical forms of expression and genuine literary innovation (such as his Soliloquies). Augustine's Confessions, written in mid-life in his early years as a bishop, illustrates the psychological awareness, rhetorical power, and theological insight that characterize his written works. More of his writings have been preserved than any other ancient author, including, among others, his City of God, On the Trinity, nearly a thousand sermons, and a sizable collection of letters.

Keywords:

  • Augustine, saint (354–430);
  • Augustine, a gifted orator and author;
  • Augustine's confessions;
  • psychological awareness, rhetorical power;
  • city of God, on the trinity;
  • Augustine's political thought, for stark realism;
  • roman empire, political instability ;
  • liberal arts, quest for religious truth