Augustine, City of God*

by James J. O'Donnell

'Explicui tuos libros; neque enim tam languidi aut inertes erant, ut me aliud quam se curare paterentur: iniecerunt manum, ereptumque aliis solicitudinum causis suis vinculis illigarunt ..., ut ego anceps sim quid in illis magis mirer, sacerdotii perfectionem, philosophiae dogmata, historiae plenam notitiam, an facundiae iucunditatem. ... Et usus es validissimo exemplo recentis calamitatis, quo licet firmissime causam muniveris, tamen si utrumvis licuisset, id tibi nolueram suffragari. Sed quando orta inde fuerat convincendorum stultitiae querela, necesse fuit inde argumenta veritatis accersere.' (ep. 154.2, Macedonius ad A. [413/4])

These are the words of the first reviewer of the first installment of ciu.[[1]] Vicar of Africa in the delicate year 413-414, after the uprising of Heraclian and the purge that followed, Macedonius was the ideal reader for the 'magnum opus et arduum,' poised between empire and church: he first wrote to A. (ep. 152) asking the bishop's views on the delicate matter of episcopal intervention in the affairs of state. A. wrote back at length (ep. 153), passing along a copy of the first three books of ciu.

It is good to heed the first reviewer's praises (for the happy combination of erudition and argument, doctrine and eloquence), and his regret (that the work dilates on the late catastrophe). His views give a useful perspective from which to consider the events of 410, and their echoes in Africa. That will lead naturally to a consideration of the contents and sources of the work as we have it; but first it will be useful to review the external facts as we have them for the composition and transmission of the work.

I. Dates of composition

The composition of ciu. occupied A. for at least a decade, perhaps fifteen years; cf. retr. 2.43.1. There are numerous indications of his progress on the work, from which a tentative schedule may be constructed. The following outline summarizes the available indications. Evidence for the dates is briefly indicated, but for fuller discussion one should consult the note by G. Bardy in the BA edition of the retr. (12.587-588).

From this point, opinions diverge. Some think that all 22 books were finished by c. 422; others insist on postponing 18 to at least 425 (citing ciu. 18.54.72: but others take the arithmetic suggested there literally and insist on postponing that book until 429); but it seems clear that the work was complete and out of A.'s hands by the time he wrote retr. 2.43.1 (426/7): 'Hoc ... grande opus tandem viginti duobus libri est terminatum.'

II. Manuscripts and editions

The first important document of the manuscript tradition of ciu. is the letter to Firmus (now ep. 1A in CSEL 88). The purport of this letter for the manuscript tradition may be summarized thus: (a) the 22 books were first prepared in separate quaterniones; (b) together the quaterniones would be too bulky as a single codex; (c) hence A. recommends that two codices be made, divided to incorporate the first ten books in one manuscript, the last twelve in another. If further division is required, five codices are recommended, to contain books 1-5, 6-10, 11-14, 15-18, and 19-22 respectively. It is also clear that the individual books had come into circulation separately.

The last line of the letter to Firmus may indicate further important information: 'Quantum autem collegerit viginti duorum librorum conscriptio missus breuiculus indicabit.' Following H.I. Marrou,[[4]] it has become the practice to treat the list of chapter headings that occurs in many manuscripts (and which Eugippius seems to have known in the sixth century when he made his excerpts from this work) as though it were the breviculus here mentioned and to print the list at the head of the work. Though this is an undoubted advance over the earlier practice of inserting the individual headings in the text of the work itself, the headings may be post-Augustinian, and may even have been written by Eugippius himself. In that case, whatever the 'breviculus' may have been, we do not have it.[[5]]

Pending completion of the HUWA catalogue, we know of 394 medieval manuscripts of all or part (or excerpts) of ciu., more even than of the Confessions. The most recent analysis shows six manuscripts (and seven fragments) earlier than the ninth century; thirty-one (plus twelve fragments and three collections of excerpts) survive from the ninth century. More than half the ninth century manuscripts have not been used in any critical edition. The most venerable manuscripts (on which our editions rely most heavily) are: Lyon, Bibliotheque Municipale, 607 (L: North Italy, 6th century, containing books 1-5); Veronensis XXVIII(26) (V: early fifth century [!], North Africa [!], containing books 11-16), and Paris Bibliotheque Nationale lat. 12214 (C: Italy, sixth century, containing books 1-9: to be supplemented with book 10 from the same codex, now held at Leningrad, Publichnaja Biblioteka Q.1.4).[[6]] It will be seen that these MSS offer impressively ancient testimony for the first sixteen books. Nevertheless, it would be dangerous to assert that considerable improvement in the text, or at least confidence in its foundations, could not be derived from a fuller examination of the manuscript tradition than has yet been undertaken. Whether it is useful to think of two different recensions of the work owing to A.'s own hand (see CCL 47.VII), which arises from the differences between the readings of C and L and is further fueled from mention in the letter to Firmus of the copy there transmitted as having been 'relectos,' could well be resolved if we knew the MSS tradition better.[[7]]

The earliest printed edition of ciu. appeared at Subiaco in 1467; there are other incunabula, of which the most important is that of Johannes Amberbach (Basel 1489). In the following century, the edition with ample commentary by the Spanish humanist Ludovicus Vives takes pride of place, but mention must also be made of the edition of A.'s works prepared by the theologi Lovanienses (Antwerp 1576).

As with other works of A., the contribution of the Maurists is deservedly celebrated. Their edition of ciu. appeared in 1685 and had the advantage of using the important MS C, available to them in Paris. This edition was reprinted in volume 41 of Patrologia Latina and elsewhere. There are two modern critical editions, of which only one has continuing influence. The edition of E. Hoffmann (CSEL 40: Vienna 1899-1900) was not well received,[[8]] leaving the field to the successive revisions of the edition originally prepared by Bernhard Dombart and published by Teubner (Leipzig 1863); Dombart revised his own work twice (1877 and 1905-08), while a fourth version was revised by A. Kalb (1928-29). This edition has been taken over for volumes 47-48 of CCL and provides the text in the BA (volumes 33-37, 1959-60). Other texts have appeared (e.g., J. Welldon, London 1924), but none have independent critical merit, while all earlier annotated editions yield to the BA edition. Nevertheless, there exists no detailed philological commentary on even a single book of the ciu. There are translations in every language, as well as bilingual editions with Latin text and vernacular translation in several. Of unadorned translations, mention deserves to be made of that in the series Fathers of the Church (New York 1950-52), with a lengthy and important introduction by E. Gilson.

III. Circumstances of Composition

The rhetorical point of departure for civ. is clear and famous (retr. 2.43): 'Interea Roma Gothorum irruptione agentium sub rege Alarico atque impetu magnae cladis eversa est. Cuius eversionem deorum falsorum multorumque cultores, quos usitato nomine paganos vocamus, in christianam religionem referre conantes, solito acerbius et amarius Deum verum blasphemare coeperunt. Unde ego exardescens zelo domus Dei adversus eorum blasphemias vel errores libros de civitate Dei scribere institui.' But A.'s rhetorical strategy should not be allowed to obscure the sequence of events that led up to the work.

On 24 August 410 the Visigoths under Alaric entered Rome, remaining to plunder for a few days. The event is of modest importance among the military disasters of the late empire, but it was too obvious a symbol to be viewed by contemporaries with any balanced perspective. Jerome's disproportionate exclamations of grief (his epp. 123, 127, 130, etc.) are perhaps more famous than they deserve to be; other immediate reactions are lacking. Our main historical sources for the events all date from after years, when the events of that week had become the substance of polemic. How severe the calamity really was cannot be said with certainty. It is safe to infer that there was death and destruction, fire and plunder, and other injuries besides.

A.'s first known reaction to the events came in s. 81, preached at Hippo later in 410. This text gives few circumstantial details of the sack; A. seems uncertain himself and preaches under the assumption that the damage to the city may have been considerable. He makes no mention of what will later be a central piece of his defense, that refugees were granted sanctuary in the basilicas outside the City. There are already refugees coming to Africa, for he closes thus: 'et in ista occasione multorum peregrinorum, egentium, laborantium, abundet hospsitalitas vestra, abundent bona opera vestra.' (s. 81.9) There are already murmurs in the air: 'Locutiones illae, verba illa, quibus nobis dicitur: Ecce quid faciunt tempora christiana, ecce quae sunt scandala. ... Ecce quae nobis dicunt pagani: quae nobis dicunt, quod est gravius, mali christiani.' (s. 81.7-8) But the response A. offers is already marked by the theme of citizenship and pilgrimage: 'Eia, christiane, coeleste germen, peregrini in terra, qui civitatem in coelo quaeritis, qui angelis sanctis sociari desideratis, intelligite vos sic venisse ut discedatis.' (s. 81.7) Some of the rhetorical devices that characterize ciu. are also in place: the pagan gods of Rome are reproached for failing to preserve their first home, Troy, and Sallust and Vergil are quoted to drive the point home. In short, there is worry in the air and A. moves quickly to offer Christians the line to take; he shows no sign here that he shares any of the extreme emotional response of a Jerome. The events entail for A., as they always would, a threat against Christianity in the realm of ideas and ideology; the material threat to the stability of the Roman regime is an incidental concern. The response is in an accordingly lofty tone, buttressed with secular and sacred learning and calm reflection.

A second sermon (s. 105) is variously dated to late 410 (Kunzelmann: at Hippo) and to the summer of 411 (Perler: at Carthage). It resembles s. 81 on many points, though it seems to have been preached at a time when the true dimensions of the catastrophe had become known. There is still no mention of victims taking shelter in the basilicas, though there is other special pleading of a kind that appears in ciu. (some of the particular points do not recur). It is not true, he argues, that as soon as the old gods were abandoned, Rome was taken: Radagaisus had been a pagan and a sacrificer, but he was turned away (in 402), while Alaric's Visigoths, though not Catholic, were Christian. Christians suffered in the sack (this is the first admission of this), but they knew how to bear their sufferings. (Again there is a range of allusion to secular literature which is not customary in Augustine's sermons, including a neat juxtaposition of two Vergilian texts and a prosopoeia of Vergil himself to explain their opposition.)

A third sermon (s. 296, printed in a fuller version as Casin. 1.133 [MA 1.402-412]) is securely dated to 29 June 411, almost a year after the events at Rome: the themes are un changed, the evenness of tone still firm. The sermon, preached on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, mentions of the basilicas at Rome, and yet does so to excuse their impotence to protect Christians, not (as in ciu.) to exploit their power: 'Iacet Petri corpus Romae, dicunt homines, iacet Pauli corpus Romae, Laurentii corpus Romae, aliorum martyrum sanctorum corpora iacent Romae: et misera est Roma, et vastatur Roma: affligitur, conteritur, incenditur; tot strages mortis fiunt, per famem, per pestem, per gladium. Ubi sunt memoriae apostolorum? ... Ibi sunt, ibi sunt, sed in te non sunt. Utinam in te essent, quisquis ista loqueris, quisquis ista desipis.... memoria est excitans amorem ad aeterna, non ut terrae inhaereas, sed ut cum apostolo caelum cogites.' (Casin. 1.133.6-7)

A year after the fact, therefore, A. was still imperfectly informed about the events that had occurred and, though concerned to defend Christianity against accusing murmurs, had not lifted his pen on the subject. A fourth sermon (exc. urb.) completes the dossier of his public reaction. This is A.'s most concentrated homiletic treatment of the sack, marked by increasing concern to explain the sufferings of Christians. The text for the sermon is Abraham's debate with God over the fate of Sodom and the ensuing bargain by which God would spare the city if only ten just men were found within it. Were there not ten just men at Rome, among so many Christians? Such is the question pressed by men 'qui scripturis nostris impietate insidiantur, non qui eas pietate requirunt.' A.'s answer has a quibbling nicety about it: 'Cito ergo respondeo, "aut invenit ibi tot iustos et pepercit civitati, aut, si non pepercit civitati, nec iustos invenit." Sed respondetur mihi manifestum esse quod Deus non pepercit civitati. Respondeo ego: "immo mihi non est manifestum."' (exc. urb. 2) After all, Rome was not swallowed up by fire as Sodom was; 'ab urbe autem Roma quam multi exierunt et redituri sunt, quam multi manserunt et evaserunt, quam multi in locis sanctis nec tangi potuerunt!' Slaughter, torture, and captivity inflicted upon the just all have scriptural precedents. 'Horrenda nobis nuntiata sunt; strages factae, incendia, rapinae, interfectiones, excruciationes hominum. Verum est, multa audivimus, omnia gemuimus, saepe flevimus, vix consolati sumus; non abnuo, non nego multa nos audisse, multa in illa urbe esse commissa.' (exc. urb. 3) This sermon is marked by stronger expressions of distress and sympathy than the earlier ones: but the expressions have the mark of rhetorical calculation, as though A. now feels that to make his point he must insist on the depth of his own feelings, where before it had not suited his point to do so. At the same time, this sermon has none of the apparatus of learned classical quotation of the earlier ones, and is directed against a particular kind of murmurer who at least knows the Christian scripture, even if his attitude towards it is not what A. would like.

There is no sign here of any panic in A. or in his flock. The energy A. expends on refutation of the church's critics increases as time passes (though the threat of the Visigoths had faded markedly with the death of Alaric and the movement of his troops towards Gaul and Spain--they were in Gaul by early 412). His audience is always his own flock and his concern seems to grow insofar as the criticism comes from closer at hand--from those who read scripture, not merely from the urbane pagans who mocked Christianity from a distance. There is thus little reason to think that ciu. as we have it would ever have been written if things had remained as they stood a year after the sack of Rome: the rhetorical opportunity the calamity offered might have been neglected. But then A. was approached privately in ways that set his pen moving with greater ambition.

In the spring of 411, there had come to Carthage the imperial commissioner Marcellinus, to preside over the conference of June 411 between Catholic and Donatist bishops. The Donatist controversy was uppermost in A.'s mind through these months; the successful outcome of the conference was the one goal on which his efforts were bent. The results of the conference were richly satisfactory to him: Marcellinus was everything he could have hoped for in an imperial representative, for he was not only a skillful public official but a devout Christian and supporter of orthodoxy from conviction as well as habit. In September 411 A. returned to Hippo from Carthage, remaining there for about a year; from that period comes a revealing correspondence between bishop and commissioner, in which we can trace the germination of ciu.

While A. was in the country in the winter of 410-11 recovering from an illness, one particular refugee from Rome passed through Hippo whom A. would have profited from meeting: Pelagius. His passage through Africa on his way to the Holy Land left a stir of discussion, which came to A. through Marcellinus: the first two pamphlets of the long stream that would attack Pelagius's ideas were written in response to (now lost) inquiries from Marcellinus (pecc. mer. and spir. et litt.).

Into this discussion a mutual acquaintance then intervened. Rufius Antonius Agrypnius Volusianus, sometime proconsul of Africa, later to be Prefect of the City of Rome and Praetorian Prefect for Italy, scion of a venerable family, was not quite a Christian. His mother was Christian, as was Volusianus's niece, the remarkable Melania the younger. It is conventional to say flatly that Volusianus was a pagan; it is true that he received baptism only on his deathbed in 437 in Constantinople, and then at the pressing instance of Melania; from the clearly pagan side, Rutilius Namatianus was a friend and spoke fondly of him. But there were many men of Volusianus's station in life in his time whose allegiances do not fit neatly into one of only two categories. Nothing forbids us to think Volusianus a politely interested, politely noncommittal figure, not unlike the A. of 385, who used his status as catechumen to advance his career and who attended Ambrose's sermons out of curiosity and prudence.

A. wrote to Volusianus in late 411 or early 412 (ep. 1.32)[[9]] at Volusianus's mother's request, inviting him to discuss his difficulties in matters of religion. Volusianus replied (ep. 135) with elaborate politeness, addressing A. thrice as 'domine vere sancte ac merito venerabilis pater.' He told of a recent conversation among friends that had ranged over rhetoric, poetry, philosophy, and theology (Volusianus adds careful flattery for Augustine's presumed interest in each of these subjects): the group broke up when one man, unnamed, raised shocking questions about the life of Christ: 'stupemus tacentes.' The virgin birth, the infirmities of the human Jesus, and the paltriness of the wonders worked by Jesus--all these objections are delicately posed. The other participants are too modest to offer answers, 'ne dum incautius secreta temerantur, in culpam deflecteret error innoxius,' and Volusianus resolves to refer the puzzles to A.

Marcellinus must have taken part in that conversation: he wrote at the same time to A. (ep. 136), excusing the bashfulness of Volusianus, who is afraid to write all he wishes to ask. (The questions Volusianus had attributed to someone in the group were likely his own, whether he had voiced them or not.) Marcellinus describes Volusianus as a man in danger of being lost to Christianity: 'homo qui a veri Dei stabilitate multorum quorum in hac urbe copia est persuasione revocatur.' It is those men who throw up against Christianity particularly the deeds of Apollonius of Tyana (whose life had been translated into Latin twenty years earlier by the solemn pagan prefect Flavianus), Apuleius, 'aliosque magicae artis homines.' (Hence the criticism offered in ep. 135 of the miracles of Jesus: pagan worthies had done mightier things than these few cures.) It is Marcellinus who now brings to A.'s attention the objection that is troubling Volusianus the most deeply: Christianity's doctrine of turning the other cheek is inconsistent with the management of a res publica. 'Nam quis ... Romanae provinciae de praedatori non mala velit belli iure reponere? ... 'per christianos principes christianam religionem maxima ex parte servantes tanta (etiamsi ipse [Volusianus!] de hac parte taceat) reipublicae mala evenisse manifestum sit.' Marcellinus is careful himself to make no direct mention of the disaster (compare Macedonius' fastidiousness at the treatment of the sack in civ. itself).

Also present when these issues were discussed was an 'eximius Hipponensis regionis possessor'--one of A.'s wealthy neighbors, who had offered ironical praise of A., while professing himself unable to answer the questions raised. It is in such men, polite, self-satisfied, Christian perhaps in name, but worldly men withal, that such objections had the greatest strength. It was for them that Marcellinus sought A.'s help: 'libros confici deprecor, ecclesiae, hoc maximo tempore, incredibiliter profuturos.'

A. responded to Volusianus and Marcellinus in kind. Writing to Volusianus (ep. 137), he dealt with the questions raised in ep. 135. Important themes of civ. begin to appear: the criticism alleged against Cicero in Books 2 and 19 is adumbrated: 'Hic etiam laudabilis reipublicae salus: neque enim conditur et custoditur optime civitas, nisi fundamento et vinculo fidei, firmaeque concordiae, cum bonum commune diligitur.' (ep. 137.17, cf. 138.10) The response to Marcellinus (ep. 138) more explicitly echoes the doctrines and the rhetorical ploys already used in the sermons on the sack of Rome. The first books of ciu. soon followed. The prefatory epistle at the head of ciu. attributes the work's composition to a promise made to Marcellinus (and debitum is the word A. used in the last paragraph the last words of Book 22, when Marcellinus was long dead, to characterize the force that kept him at his task).

The first book of ciu. reflects the polemical situation in which A. wrote and the rhetorical devices with which he chose to exploit his opportunity. The book offers two principal arguments, in a kind of ring composition:[[10]] that those who criticize the Christian god themselves benefitted from his protection by taking refuge in the basilicas of the apostles; and that those Christians who suffered in the sack of the city lost nothing of essential value and cannot complain of the injustice of God. The first argument opens and closes the book, and compels us to infer that A. had in mind specific individuals who were present in Africa at the time he wrote. The second argument fills more than half the book and includes the long discussion of the plight of religious women who had been raped during the siege. Once again, the shape and size of the argument compels us to infer that A. had in mind to offer consolation for particular individuals known to his audience.

It was the case of the women that posed the most delicate issues. Some women, filled with shame at what they had suffered, had in fact committed suicide; this was a course which had not been universally disapproved by earlier Christian writers. But there were other religious women who had suffered the same indignity and who had escaped to Africa, there to be confronted with the doubly galling taunts of those who suggested that their God had failed them (in allowing them to be raped), and that they had failed their vows of chastity by not emulating the example of their sisters in suicide (1.19: 'istos ... qui Christianis feminis in captivitate compressis alieni ab omni cogitatione sanctitatis insultant'). A. urges consolation upon just those women, exploiting and transforming in his cause the most famous Roman exemplum of chastity, Lucretia.

The last pages of Book 1 return to the critics whose views are attacked: cultured refugees, who escaped the sack by taking refuge in the apostles' shrines, and who now wander from the churchs to the theaters of Carthage, Christians in outward show, but separated from the faithful community in essentials: (1.35: 'sicut ex illorum numero etiam Dei civitas habet secum, quamdiu peregrinatur in mundo, conexos communione sacramentorum, nec secum futuros in aeterna sorte sanctorum, ... qui etiam cum ipsis inimicis adversus Deum, cuius sacramentum gerunt, murmurare non dubitant, modo cum illis theatra, modo ecclesias nobiscum replentes.').

A. is too polite to name these people. It is not likely he would speak so harshly if Volusianus were the target of his words; but there must have been others, Christian in name whose doubts and hesitations were the real source of unease that made A. so polemically vigorous here. Whether there were real die-hard pagans, devout believers in the ancient gods, in A.'s original audience, may sincerely be doubted. There is no reason to think that the immediate pretext for writing ciu. came from outside the Christian community. That the work emphasizes so strongly, from first page to last, that the apparent bounds of that community do not precisely match those of the heavenly civitas shows how strongly A. sought to reach those who bore the name and shared the sacraments of Christ, but who were yet alien to the inner grace: 'perplexae quippe sunt istae duae civitates in hoc saeculo invicemque permixtae, donec ultimo iudicio dirimantur.' (1.35)

In sum, it was not precisely the sack of Rome in 410 that aroused A. to write ciu. but the lingering contention it provoked among sophisticated citizens, Christian in name but classical in allegiances. A. took up the challenge with a power and a firmness of intention that still astonish his readers. The notion of writing about the two cities had been already been in A.'s mind;[[11]] circumstances of the years after 410 offered him a witty and polemically effective point of departure and provided the catalyst that allowed the great work to precipitate itself from the creative centers of A.'s mind. He wrote throughout for the kind of audience from which one can expect to hear characteristically pagan arguments suggested, but to which one can nevertheless make the kind of arguments that are characteristically Christian.

The first three books (either published as a group, or else the first preceded the other two) appeared in the difficult year 412/13, when Africa was in an uproar over the usurpation and revolt of Heraclian. That crisis cost Marcellinus his life (cf. ep. 151); ciu. might well have been broken off after the Marcellinus' death. But it was not: the other 19 books appeared over the next decade or so, with never a mention of Marcellinus and only the slightest hint on the very last page of the work's origins. In later books, events of 410 could be mentioned without emotional or polemical overtones (e.g., 15.23): so far did the book grow from its roots.

IV. Contents

Civ. is the longest single work presenting a sustained argument unified around a coherent single theme to survive from Greco-Roman antiquity (apart from histories and compilations, whose bulk is inherent in the matter and whose disposition is far less than artful than that required in a work such as ciu.). Leaving aside collections of sermons (e.g., on the Psalms or the Gospel of John), it is far and away the longest work Augustine ever wrote, far longer than any of the surviving works of Plato or Cicero. It is every inch the product of its times, both in style and in content. It should not therefore be surprising that modern readers have differed widely in the interpretation of its purport.

It can be taken as a livre de circonstance that grew out of control and into which A. poured all manner of material as it occurred to him. It can be argued that the initial polemical thrust carried him through three books, a second polemical inspiration carried him through the tenth book, and then a third, purely theological, enthusiasm overtook him and inspired the last dozen books. Both of these lines of interpretation take the circumstances of 410-413 as the essential point of departure for all that followed and insist that the common intent of apologetic and comfort for the distraught be the source of any unity the work possesses.

Other interpreters see grander structure. For them the initial polemical movement was quickly exhausted, and the inspiration that replaced it was the ambition to design a grand plan for all of human history. At this point, opinions diverge between those (mainly the more recent) writers who emphasize the philosophy of history detached from particular circumstances and those (descendants in many ways of A.'s own acquaintance Orosius) who saw a particular apology intended to identify the Christian Church (and often the Christian Empire) of this world closely, if not exclusively, with the City of God.

Both main schools of interpretation have flourished in the absence of a sustained tradition of philological commentary and analysis of the text itself. It is not easy to descry the structures and intent of a work of this sort, so much sui generis, so out of temper with modern times; hence it is easy either to assert that no structure exists, or to create one's own structure from a selective reading. With the discovery in this century of the letter to Firmus, however, the case against order has been made much more difficult, and studies of the structure and purport of the work have been brought closer to the text of the work itself, much clarifying our knowledge.

A discussion of the detailed structure of the work and the individual books will appear below. The following remarks on the principal themes and arrangement assume such analysis at every point; they only attempt to extract a few main points in brief compass.[[12]]

We first hear of the two cities in the vera rel., written at Tagaste in 389/91. The theme, fundamentally scriptural, is not infrequent in A.'s works before Rome was ever threatened. That he had conceived a work on the Two Cities on purely theological and exegetical grounds is clear form an important text in the Gn. litt. 11.15.20:

'Hi duo amores, quorum alter sanctus est, alter immundus; alter socialis, alter privatus; alter communi utilitati consulens propter supernam societatem, alter etiam rem communem in potestatem propriam redigens propter arrogantem dominationem; ... praecesserunt in angelis ... et distinxerunt conditas in genere humano civitates duas, sub admirabili et ineffabili providentia Dei. ... De quibus duabus civitatibus latius fortasse alio loco, si dominus voluerit, disseremus.'

Nothing in the original theme required the discussion be located in a contemporary, polemical matrix. It was providence that gave A. the pretext for writing the work in a way that found its target, and perhaps its audience, ready made. A.'s own desire to write a work on the Two Cities may have contributed to the zeal with which he took up the murmurs in the air after 410 and made them the object of such vehement polemical attacks.

The fundamental pastoral point made by A. writing on the two cities is that Christians live in this world but they are not of this world. They are present here as strangers sojourning in a foreign country, enjoying the the blessings the world has to offer, but always ready to move on.[[13]] Heaven is the Christian's true home, and it is to heaven that his affections and his loyalties should be directed. It was probably the happenstance observation of the analogy that obtained between this metaphor for Christian life and the facts of the situation in Africa after 410 that inspired A. to join the intended work on the two cities with the rejoinder to the skeptics of those years. The skeptics were to be found among wealthy and discontented refugees from Rome, who found themselves living as aliens in Africa, discontented and frustrated, taking the pleasures of the theaters and shows, but always hankering to return to the great city far away. The neat, even witty, polemical point of the opening book of ciu. is that the refugees have exactly the right attitude: they need to realign their loyalties and their longings toward a greater city, farther away, and then only will they see the fate of temporal kingdoms in true perspective.

This juxtaposition of metaphor and reality begot the first ten books of ciu. But the polemic against the pagans and their gods is never more than incidental to the main purpose of the whole work. A work of demolition may be necessary and enlightening, but it is the construction that follows that is of greater significance. The first books are thus curiously divided between what we are inclined to think of as the merely rhetorical--such as the mocking description of the gods of the Roman marriage bed and their assorted functions at 6.9--and the more trenchantly argumentative--such as the serious and on the whole sympathetic discussion of the merits and demerits of Platonism in Books 8-10. The analysis of Rome's grandeur and decline in the opening books offers a similar mixture: A.'s attitudes toward Rome were certainly ambivalent and complex and throw much light on his dealings with imperial power and its functionaries,[[14]] but it must nevertheless be admitted that ciu. is of much less use to us as a source for these opinions than it would be if the subject had been more central to the writer's purpose.

It is with Book 11 that the central, constructive stage of ciu. opens. It quickly becomes clear that the debate of Books 1-10 is now for all intents and purposes over: either the reader has been convinced, or he has left off the battle and departed (cf. 11.5). Scriptural texts had been quoted throughout the first ten books, but here they take on their full authority for the first time.

The organization of Books 11-22 is chronological, within the frame of scripture. The method of Books 11-22 is exegetical, A.'s characteristic method. He will repeat in some of its pages some of what he had said in several other places (notably Gn. litt. and conf. 11-13) about the creation and fall of men and angels in Genesis; his narrative of world history (Books 15-18) would seem strangely selective and inconsistent to a reader of his time accustomed to read the classical historians, or even the Christian chroniclers; but it is nevertheless a progress through the most important pieces of the scriptural data. The last books, finally, will place exegesis in the service of eschatology, culminating on the last pages of the work with the anticipation of heavenly repose and order, to match the peace and lack of division that is evoked on the first pages of Book 11.

It is to these books preeminently that later ages with pressing questions of their own have come seeking A.'s answers. The philosophy of history and political theory embody vital concerns of moderns; when they turn to A., it is in these pages that they find most nearly what suits their purposes. Yet it must be asserted and constantly held in mind that it was not to answer the questions of other ages that A. wrote. Any Augustinian philosophy of history or theory of politics extracted from these pages will suffer from grave defects at the outset; not only will his ideas bear the marks of the times in which they were conceived, but they will only lend themselves to the very notion of a philosophy of history or politics with the greatest difficulty and with the most glaring of gaps.

Taken in himself, and read in the context of his times, A. has little to offer except theology and exegesis: the fruits of his reading of history are the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. A. would place no value whatever on the patterns he sees in history if they were separated from his expectation of the four last things.

At the center of the whole work is a single scriptural theme, illuminated and made the basis for an extended meditation on the whole message of revelation itself. The fall of angels and men, itself the result of a derangement of loves, has brought schism into the soul of man. In the natural state, man is now a stranger to himself, incapable of self-knowledge; thinking himself good and virtuous but in reality full of pride and disordered loves. How this can come about is a mystery in some ways (ciu. 12.7), but it is a fact. Left to itself, human society would be nothing but the city of this world, cut off from God, destined to die in body and soul.

But the fact of divine mercy and mediation (already adumbrated in the first ten books, culminating in the vivid contrast between Christ and the demons in Book 10) has nurtured a fragment of the original excellence of mankind. This spark exists in a portion of the human race, and always has. Abel found favor with God; in all three ages of divine dispensation (ante legem, sub lege, sub gratia), God has seen those who carry the standards of the heavenly city. In the desolation of a sinful world, these figures have held out the hope that the journey home is possible, that men need not resign themselves to citizenship in a corrupt city but may already participate in the citizenship of heaven, with faith and hope in its full restoration.

Human history between Adam and the second coming is thus radically incoherent. There is one, readily visible pattern for the earthly city, marked by disasters and wars, public and private, of every kind; but there is another pattern, dimly visible but obscured by sin, according to which the heavenly city lives. It is the task of revelation to remove the scales from the eyes of those who would look for this pattern; it is the role of exegesis to bring home that message.

The aim of A.'s exposition is not to satisfy intellectual curiosity: none of his mature works were ever written to that end. The purpose was entirely pastoral: to dismantle first (in Books 1-10) the prevailing, all-too-natural, interpretation of the meaning of human affairs, and then to find hidden just be neath the surface a second interpretation, divine in origin, full of hope for the future. The error of those who would lament bitterly the fall of a single earthly city of bricks and mortar is the error of those who are unable to distinguish shadow from reality: the sovereign remedy is the intervention of the divine Word of redemption and illumination. No wonder, then, that by the end of the work the ground of discussion has shifted entirely away from where it started. In demolition at the outset, A. could be whimsical, even sarcastic and mocking; in the construction that follows, he abandons the tone and even the style of his earlier books for the style of his own mature religious works.

V. Structure

Modern students have not always been kind to the literary qualities of ciu. Adverse judgments on the structure and organization have been commonplace, and even the work's most devoted students have often damned with faint praise. H. Scholz was willing to admit that the first ten books could pass as a Kunstwerk, but of 11-22 he said, "Es felht die Einheit und Konzentration. ... Der zweite Hauptteil ... ist ... ein lockeres, halborganisiertes Gefüge.'[[15]] A detailed analysis of the contents led two American scholars to find in ciu. the defects of homiletic digression, deviation from the subject, superfluous arguments in vain pursuit of clarity, prolixity, repetition, and a penchant for symbolism (especially number symbolism); their summary of the contents carefully stigmatized the passages containing these defects. Fully one-fifth of the whole text was so marked (and 60% of book ten was revealed to be a disfigurement to the integrity of the underlying plan).[[16]] There is also this judgment to contend with: 'Un commerce prolonge avec l'oeuvre augustinienne met bien souvent a l'épreuve la patience du'un Français d'aujourd'hui: "Saint Augustin compose mal," "sa composition is beaucoup trop lache," telle est la critique qui se formule spontanement.'[[17]] And yet A. was after all a thoroughly trained and, before his conversion, notably successful practitioner of the principles of ancient rhetoric. To be sure, the almost unparallelled length of his major works and the lack of explicit rhetorical doctrine on the way to construct such extensive arguments leaves us without obvious recourse to ways of explaining A.'s structures; still, caution in adverse judgments is certainly necessary. This was handsomely recognized by the author of the last quoted criticism, writing a decade after his first judgment: '"Saint Augustin compose mal ...": jugement d'un jeune barbare ignorant et presomptueux.'[[18]] Marrou's famous palinode and the pregnant suggestions that followed opened the way for a more subtle and careful analysis of the underlying movement of the work and an appreciation of its craft in the traditions of ancient rhetoric.

It cannot be argued that A.'s work was be in every way to the taste of all of his own first readers: yet Macedonius seems to have been quite satisfied. Much must be conceded to the long period of gestation and composition: it would be difficult to sustain a close and faithful adherence to a detailed outline when the subjects were so complex, and when the work was of necessity only part of the literary activity, and literary activity only part of the life, of a busy bishop.

It cannot be urged, for example, that the long series of miracles outlined in 22.8 stood in mind when A. took up the pen to write the first page of Book 1: between Books 1 and 22 had intervened the return of Orosius from the east with the relics of Stephen and the construction by Evodius of the memoria at Hippo to enshrine the relics and give a focus to their power. But the discussion of the nature of a populus in book two is marked by a promise to return to the subject "suo loco;" (2.21) the promise comes due seventeen books later: "Quapropter nunc est locus, ut quam potero breviter ac dilucide expediam, quod in secundo huius operis libro me demonstraturum esse promisi ...." (19.21.) This implies a degree of control over material and its disposition that renders adverse judgment liable to severe correction.

It must be borne in mind in seeking the rationale behind the composition of the great works of the ancient rhetorical tradition is that the aim of such writing is persuasion more than demonstration, successful deployment of rhetoric rather than dialectic. Moderns prefer dialectic to rhetoric, prefer a careful and logical outline explicitly articulated and closely followed. The ancients have little such to offer; late antique taste must be allowed its preferences. Even the 'digression' has a place in such a structure.

The modern reader must above all be careful neither to denigrate nor to overpraise. The principles on which A. worked are subject to criticism, and he did not always implement them with the greatest success; he could juxtapose the serenity and lucidity of Book 19 to the seemingly endless expanse of loosely connected discussions of Book 18 (three-quarters again as long as the average of the preceding seventeen books). But it does now seem clear that there was a clear plan in outline at the outset of the work, and that in the implementation of that plan A. seldom lapsed from giving a rhetorical performance that did his reputation credit; the first books have a bravura quality that fades from the later ones, and control wavers at times, but in the main the work must be accounted a success.

It is necessary to add one further principle to elucidate the structure of ciu. There is indeed a disparity of texture between Books 1-10 and 11-22. The first books, openly 'contra paganos,' are composed more in the secular manner of a Cicero; but 11-22, where A.'s purposes and premises are now avowedly ecclesiastical, more closely resemble in form and structure his own other works than they do the, for A., idiosyncratic Books 1-10. A close examination of the style of the two halves would reveal comparable shifts: from the full and dramatic periodicity of the opening pages of Book 1, we move to a more restrained and straightforward style in the later books. Here again, we see A. determined in the first books to demonstrate his mastery of all the form and content of classical secular culture, only to demolish the pretensions of that culture and then revert, in the later books, to the humbler and more practical style of his ecclesiastical writings in order to expound an ecclesiastical message.

The main lines of the architecture of the work, and something of the disparity between the first and second halves, may be glimpsed in a compendious chart. No such outline is of much value in itself; it should be read only as a suggestion of the depths that lie behind such superficial analyis. Still, the symmetry and order of the work as a whole cannot escape our notice. (The rightmost column prints the number of printed lines of text which each book occupies in the CCL printing of the Dombart-Kalb text. Note particularly that the measured symmetries of the first ten books gradually disintegrate in books 11-22; and note that the books of the first ten which our chart links in pairs offer remarkable testimony of symmetry. Books 1 and 4 comprise 2569 lines together, Books 2 and 3, 2568; Books 6 and 7 comprise 2211, 8 and 9, 2222; both 5 and 10 are noticeably longer than the four books preceding to which they provide a conclusion. Such statistical magic is not in itself enough to prove the orderliness of A.'s composition, but it may be thought to provide some silent testimony in corroboration to what is otherwise evident.)

A more detailed summary of the contents follows:

Part One:  The incapacity of traditional Roman religion to bring
felicitas to its votaries.

Book I (the calamities of 410: Rome and God under Christianity):
    A.  Refutation (chapters 1-9) 
          1.  negative discussion of criticisms arising from
          events of 410, with much reference to classical authors
          2.  attitude for Christians to take in face of
          criticism (8-9)
   B.  Consolation (chapters 10-29)
          1.  detailed discussion of points of confusion and
          regret (10-27)
            a.  loss of wealth (10)
            b.  hunger and starvation (11)
            c.  lack of proper burial (12-13)
            d.  captivity and imprisonment (14-15)
            e.  stupra and suicide (17-27)
                (1)  events of 410 (17-18)
                (2)  the case of Lucretia (19-27)
          2.  attitude for Christians to take in face of
          misfortunes (28-29)
    C.  Criticism of non-Christian attitudes (30-36)
          1.  luxuria the root of unrest (30-34)
          2.  summary/outline of whole work (35-36)

Book II (the moral lapses of Rome before Christ):
    A.  Introduction (1-3)
   B.  The gods and moral decay
          1.  Theatrics and the gods (4-14a)
              [14b-16:  Plato vs. Romulus:  epitome of the whole
              book in miniature.]
          2.  Interpretation (17-24)
            a.  moderate view (< Sallust) (17-20)
            b.  extreme view (< Cicero) (21-24)
    C.  Summary and conclusion (25-29)
          1.  with reference to chapters 17-24 (25)
          2.  with reference to chapters 4-14 (26-27)
          3.  with reference to critics (28)         
          4.  exhortation (29)

Book III (the material ills of Rome before Christ):
    A.  Preface (1)
    B. External ills and disorders in the period of which
           Sallust spoke in praise (2-17)
        1.  Trojan war (2-8)
        2.  Numa (9-12)
        3.  Rome under the kings (13-15)
        4.  The first consuls (16)
        5.  The republic to the Punic wars (17)
    C.  The Punic wars and their consequences:  the fatal crisis
    D.  Internal ills and disorders:  Gracchi, Marius, Sulla,
    E.  Conclusion (31)

Book IV (Rome and God under traditional religion):
    A.  Prolegomena (1-7)
        1.  Introduction/summary of books 2-5 (1-2)
        2.  Introduction to subject of  Book 4 (3-7)
    B.  A.'s view of the gods (8-23)
        1.  minor deities (8)
        2.  Jupiter (9-13)
        3.  minor deities, esp. Felicitas (14-23)
    C.  Roman philosophical views (24-32)
        1. unattributed view that gods are named from their
              functions (24-25)
        2.  Cicero: gods as poetic figments (26)
        3.  Scaevola: threefold theology (27-28)
        4.  unattributed views on Terminus, Mars, Iuventas (29)
        5.  Cicero on anthropomorphism and superstition (30)
        6.  Varro on the preferability of monotheism (31)
        7.  summary:  in the end, the Romans preferred the
               poets to the philosophers (32)
    D.  Conclusion (33-34)
        1.  Rise of Christianity (33)
        2.  Judaism:  counterexample by way of conclusion (34)

Book V (the role of the true God in governing all things, even
the Roman empire):
     A.  Fate (1-11)
          1.  The stars (1-7)
          2.  Divination and other means of descrying fate (8-11)
     B.  Greatness of the Romans (12-21)
          1.  Gloria:  they have their reward, the saints
          better (12-16)
          2.  Rome as moral exemplum:  their virtues no virtues
          at all by comparison with the saints (17-19); further
          comparison with Epicureanism (20)
          3.  God governs all things, even Rome (21)
     C.  Summary of arguments stemming from events of 410 (by way
     of postscript to books 1-5) (22-26)
          1.  War and its severity (with reference to the defeat
          of Radagaisus) (22-23)
          2.  The fortunes and virtues of Christian emperors
     D.  Conclusion (26b)

Book VI (Civil theology:  introduction):
    A.  Introduction (Preface, 1)
    B.  Varro and the tripartite theology (2-9)
    C.  Seneca (10-11)
    D.  Conclusion and review (12)

Book VII (Civil theology:  the dii selecti):
    A.  Introduction (Preface, 1-4)
    B.  Naturalistic interpretations (5-26)
        1.  General overview (5-6)
        2.  Janus and Jupiter (7-12)
        3.  The other gods (13-22)
              [Euhemerus and Varro:  a pause in the long
              argument (18-19)]
        4.  Recapitulation (23-26)
              [Cybele:  the most shameful of the gods (24-26)]
    C.  Conclusion (27-35)
        1.  Varro's failure (27-28)
        2.  Christianity's success (29-33)
        3.  Numa:  the ultimate failure of the Varronian
              approach (34-35)

Book VIII (Natural theology:  the Platonists):
    A.  Introduction (1)
    B.  The best philosophy (2-12)
        1.  Overview of history of philosophy (2-4)
        2.  Superiority of the Platonists (5-12)
    C.  Debate with the Platonists (13-27)
        1.  Apuleius on demons (13-22)
        2.  Hermes Trismegistus (23-27)
    D.  Conclusion:  demons vs. martyrs (26-27)

Book IX (Natural theology:  demons vs. angels):
    A.  Introduction (1-2)
    B.  Demons and passiones (2-8)
    C.  Demons as mediators (9-13)
        [possibility of another mediator (14-15)]
    D.  Nullus deus miscetur homini? (16-18)
    E.  Angels (19-23)

Book X (consideration of the claims of natural theology brings
out the true role of God the Son):
    A.  Introduction (1-3)
    B.  Sacrifice (4-7)
    C.  Miracles and worship (8-22)
    D.  Purgation:  debate with Porphyry (23-32a)
    E.  Conclusion (32b)

Part Two:  The origins, history, and ends of the two cities

Book XI (Origins: creation, esp. of unfallen angels):
    A.  Introduction (1-4)
    B.  Creation (5-31)
        1.  Hexameron (5-8)
        2.  Angelology (9-20)
        3.  The goodness of all creation (21-28)
        4.  Angels again (29)
        5.  Hexameron again (30-31)
    C.  Summary and conclusion (32-34)
        1.  An acceptable alternative (32)
        2.  Summary (33)
        3.  An unacceptable alternative (34)

Book XII (Origins: esp. the fall of the angels, creation of men):
    A.  Introduction (1a)
    B.  Angels (1b-9)
        1.  Inherent goodness of creation (1b-5)
        2.  Origins of evil (6-9)
    C.  Men (10-28)
        1.  Time, eternity, human origins (10-21)
        2.  The implications of createdness (22-28)

Book XIII (Origins: esp. the fall of man and its implications):
    A.  The effects of the fall:  death (1-11)
        1.  The fact of death (1-3)
        2.  Christian response (4-11)
    B. The effects of the fall: second death (of the soul)
    C.  The effects of the fall:  consideration of the material
           and spiritual aspects of the body (19-24a)
    D.  Conclusion:  the two Adams (24b)

Book XIV (Origins:  two loves, two cities):
    A.  Introduction:  secundum carnem, secundum spiritum vivere
    B. Human wills, fallen and unfallen (6-14)
        1.  Amor and passiones in fallen man (6-9)
        2.  Pride and humility in unfallen man (10-14)
    C.  Human behavior, fallen and unfallen (15-27)
        1.  Consequences of the fall in concupiscence (15-20)
        2.  sexuality without passio as the hallmark of the
          life of the flesh in unfallen paradise (21-27)
    D.  Conclusion:  "Fecerunt itaque civitates duas amores duo,
terrenam scilicet amor sui usque ad contemptum Dei, caelestem
vero amor Dei usque ad contemptum sui." (28)

Book XV (History:  from the fall to the flood):
    A.  Introduction (1a)
    B.  The two cities:  brothers at war in history and allegory
          [Cain/Abel, Ishmael/Hagar, Romulus Remus] (1b-8)
          [Methodological interlude:  chronological difficulties
          and the authority of the versions of scripture (9-16]
    C.  From Cain to the flood (17-21)
    D.  The flood (22-27)

Book XVI (History:  from the flood to the kings of Israel):
     A.  The generations of Shem; general considerations on the
     conditions of life before the covenant [esp.:   Babel,
     language, etc.] (1-11)
     B.  Abraham and his covenant with God (12-34)
     C.  From Abraham to David (35-43)

Book XVII (History: scripture and prophecy under the kings):
    A.  Prophecy (1-3)
    B.  Anna and Samuel (4-7)
    C.  David (8-19)
        1.  David in history (8-13)
        2.  Psalms concerning civitas Dei (14-19)
    D.  Prophecy from Solomon until the time of Christ (20-24) 
              [in more detail in book 18]

Book XVIII (History:  recapitulation of the earthly history, past
and future, of both cities):
    A.  Introduction (1-2)
    B.  The two cities under Assyrian dominion from the time of
           Ninus (3-14)
    C.  The two cities under Roman dominion(15-54a)
        1.  Earliest times (15-26)
        2.  The age of the prophets (27-41)
            a.  The prophets of the Old Testament (27-36)
            b.  The prophets and the pagan sages (37-41)
        3.  The establishment of the standard (i.e.,
           Septuagint) text of the Old Testament (42-44)
        4.  The intertestamental period (45-48) 
        5.  The coming of Christ and the church (49-54a)
    D.  Conclusion:  The present intermixture of the two cities
"donec ultimo iudicio separentur" (54b)

Book XIX (Ends:  peace):
    A.  Introduction:  the 288 sects of Varro (1-4)
    B.  Misery of human condition (5-9)
    C.  Peace (10-26)
        1.  the peace that is longed-for (10-13)
        2. the possibility of authentic peace in this world
        3.  Cicero and Porphyry refuted (21-26)
    D.  Peace the goal of the city of God, war of the city of
           man (27-28)

Book XX (Ends:  the last judgment):
    A.  Introduction (1-4)
    B.  Judgment in the New Testament (5-20)
        1.  Gospels (5-6)
        2.  Apocalypse (7-17)
        3.  Epistles (18-20)
    C.  Judgment in the Old Testament (21-29)
        1.  Isaiah and Daniel (21-23)
        2.  Psalms and Malachi (24-29)
    D.  Conclusion:  Christ the Judge (30)

Book XXI (Ends:  hell):
    A.  Introduction (1)
    B.  Eternal punishment and justice (2-12)
        1.  Refutation of objections (2-9)
        2.  Reasonableness of the doctrine (10-11)
    [Punishment and purgation:  13-16]
    C.  Eternal punishment and mercy (17-27a)
        1.  Origen's objections (17-22)
        2.  Refutation and explanation (23-27a)
    D.  Conclusion (27b)

Book XXII (Ends:  heaven):
    A.  Introduction (1-3)
    B.  Resurrection (4-20)
        1.  Argument from miracle (4-12)
        2.  Subsidiary questions (13-20)
    C.  Eternal bliss (21-30)
        1.  Foreshadowed on earth (21-24)
            [refutations of Porphyry and Plato:  25-28)]
        2.  Realized in the celestial city (29-30a)
    D.  Conclusion (30b)

VI. Sources

In none of A.'s works are the variety and the limitations of his indebtednesses more clearly displayed than in ciu. A. was ever limited first by the literary culture on which he had been brought up and second by the still narrow range of Christian literature available to one working almost entirely in Latin.[[19]]

The classical education of A. had centered on the school authors of his time: the authors of the quadriga Messii (Vergil, Cicero, Terence, and Sallust) loom large in any assessment of his classical equipment, with Vergil and Cicero easily in the lead. The perils of this preference for his knowledge of Roman history are particularly acute. The traditional literary authors had lain dormant in A.'s mind for many years before 413. In writing ciu. A. made a deliberate attempt to refresh his classical memory, to redeploy his erudition, in the service of his great work 'contra paganos.'

But A.'s education had not been limited to the literary classics, nor is his range of citation in ciu. so limited. From the time of his reading of the Hortensius, A. had distinguished himself by zeal for the study of philosophy, with a seriousness that went beyond what was customary in the schools of the time. Hence in ciu. we see some authors cited who were not part of the standard school lists. The most notable is Varro, whose Antiquitates are a heavily-quoted source (and A. in turn is an important source for fragments of that work). There are also a number of quotations from Apuleius (and the pseudo-Apuleian Asclepius): A. may have read Apuleius for the first time after he heard of the work's popularity in the group around Volusianus (cf. epp. 136, 137).

Beyond these authors there can be discerned a penumbra of quotations, allusions, and echoes to a number of other Latin authors; these quotations in the main stem from the literary classics (e.g., a single citation of Persius), while the material derived from the more pedestrian authors (e.g., Pliny the elder or Solinus) is often of debatable provenance and may have come to A. indirectly.

The Greek sources that appear in ciu. conform to the pattern detected elsewhere. A.'s recourse to original Greek texts is greater at this period than earlier in his career, but he was still not reading any of the classical or Neoplatonic Greek authors in the original in extenso; what he knows of Plato, Plotinus, and Porphyry he knows from Latin translations and from doxographers, though if a Greek text were available he may have checked a particular point here and there. That is not to say that he is either ignorant or unsophisticated: the discussion and refutation of the claims of the Platonists in Books 8 through 10 is remarkable, given the time and place of its composition. There is no final consensus on the exact identity and nature of the Neoplatonic books that underlay his discussion here; the works of J.J. O'Meara have evoked lively debate and thrown light on many individual points, but consensus remains elusive.[[20]]

One point of filiation may be worth salvaging. The loss of most of Cicero's De republica prevents us from tracing closely the influence it exercised on A. But some of what A. found there was important to him, e.g., the definition of a populus quoted from Cicero in Book 2 and taken up, seventeen books and ten years later, to become an important part of the elegant and beautiful Book 19. There are affinities between the underlying themes of the Ciceronian work and A.'s own effort in ciu., for all that A. is deliberately attempting to suggest an entirely new way of thinking about human society and the responsibilities of its citizens. (That Macrobius, it now seems, wrote his own imitation of the De republica--his Saturnalia--in Africa around 430 could even be taken as an indication that this learned traditionalist saw the intended rejoinder to De republica in A. and posed his more loving imitation to counteract A.) At any rate, it is clear that ciu. is--among many other things--A.'s final debate and settling of accounts with Cicero. But what of Plato? There is just a trace in ciu. (22.28) that A. knew enough of Plato's Republic to conceive his own work as the third stage of a debate that connected Greek with Roman with Christian ideas about justice, peace, and human society. That the first work ended with the eschatological myth of Er, the second with the dream of Scipio, and the third with A.'s own evocation of last things suggests that if the De republica had survived intact we might be in a position to descry a clearer line of descent than we now know.

But for all the apparatus of secular literature brought to bear on the work's theme, the texts of scripture still loom much larger in the work from one end to the other than do all secular texts combined. There is a disparity between the first and second halves of the work: Book 1 shows a preponderance of scriptural over classical citations (a ratio of about 5 to 2), but for Books 2 through 8 the classical citations predominate (by about 3 to 1); it is in Book 10, with the assertion of the powers of Christ as mediator against the claims of the daemones that the ratio again reverses, with scriptural texts preponderant by about 3.5 to 1. In Books 11 through 22 on the other hand, the preponderance of scripture is absolute (a ratio of about 12 to 1). Where the scriptural texts are quoted, particularly in Books 11 through 22, the method is exegetical and the style consistent with A.'s discussions of scriptural texts and problems in his other works.

When we ask what works of Christian non-scriptural literature A. knew and used, we are on the shakiest ground. It was never A.'s habit to identify his sources, particularly orthodox sources; even heretics often hide behind the ambiguous designation of quidam. (The importance of Tyconius for the underlying concept of the two cities is particularly im portant.[[21]]) The investigations of B. Altaner [[22]] offer the best general view of A.'s debts to the Greek fathers. Further investigation is required to show how much of what A. says against the pagans is in fact the fruit of his long ruminations and debates involving the Manichees and Donatists, but it was against the work's rhetorical strategy to discuss those sects openly.

VII. Analogues/Place in Career

The second great creative phase of A.'s career fell in the early 410's (the first fell c. 399-401): the end of the long Donatist quarrel was probably the proximate cause of a new release of energy and imagination, and the inquisitive and loyal presence of Marcellinus must have contributed encouragement as well. Then we see A. bringing to completion some of the great projects begun years earlier (trin., Gn. litt., en. Ps., Io. ev. tr.), beginning ciu., and launching the first of his stream of pamphlets against the poison of Pelagianism.

Ciu. therefore holds a place central to A.'s work and thought for concrete reasons. Of A.'s other works, however, it may most profitably be compared with conf. One writer has said of ciu. that it plays out on a wider stage the same drama of conversion that animates conf.; this is not an optical illusion. The earlier, more private work had begun with ten books that dismantled the errors of the past and reached, on the last pages of the tenth book, Christ the mediator: the movement of the first ten books of ciu. is remarkably similar, with the same result. The second part of conf. was devoted--to the dismay of moderns--to the exposition of the first chapters of scripture, a small Hexameron; the exposition of Genesis there is deliberately constructed to mark the parallel between the seven days of creation and the whole of salvation history from creation to last things. The last books of ciu. similarly begin with close reading of the crucial opening pages of Genesis (supplementing Gn. litt.) and move towards the eschatological tranquility of the last page.

It is not within the scope of this article to consider the influence exercised by ciu. in later times; indeed, the story of its influence is a long and discouraging record of misreading and misplaced reverence. A. had set out in ciu. to propose to his readers a view of man's place in the world that differed materially on every main principle from that which had underpinned Greco-Roman antiquity. It was the fate of Christianity in his own time and in centuries after to make the task of realizing that view more difficult for itself by following the perilous paths of power and glory. The union of church and empire--a constant dream of the western middle ages, a depressing reality for the eastern--obscured the practical value of A.'s doctrines and led many devout readers of A. to share the hollow optimisms of their contemporaries, insecure in the hope that the association of religious and secular power would lead by a tranquil path to the establishment of a strong and secure out post of the heavenly city in the world here below. The shattering of those hopes in modern times was a heavy blow for Christian optimists, but it has made possible the return to his text and his authentic vision, which eschews shallow optimism in favor of a faith that looks beyond all the disorders and bru talities of secular, fallen society to an animating power that lies beyond--and at the same time stands everpresent within the hearts of even the most helpless victims of the terrors that come from barbarism--and civilization.