The Confessions

Greece and Rome Live


February 1st, 2005



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Augustine's 'Confessions', written at the close of the fourth century CE, is a highly significant text in the history of European culture. Augustine explains just how and why he came to abandon a successful career and the personal enjoyments of a largely secular existence to follow a life of prayer and study, leading to a true comprehension of God and the Bible. The avowed approach of this introductory book is to 'historicise' - to set Augustine's own experiences of religion, philosophy and Christian faith against the long-standing political, cultural and religious traditions of the classical world. Late antiquity saw the transformation of the classical heritage and its transmission by Christian authors. Augustine's ideas about how texts may be presented and read, how people respond to written and spoken language, find resonance in recent critical theory.The world in which Augustine lived, the structure, style and purpose of the Confessions, and the problems of rhetoric and truth posed by its author's personal search for himself are all scrutinised in this lucid introductory account. The volume also offers a useful guide to further reading.

Author Information

Gillian Clark is Professor of Ancient History in the University of Bristol. Her current areas of research include a collaborative commentary on Augustine City of God: (see, and in more general terms, Greek and Latin patristics in relation to Graeco-Roman social and intellectual history.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Part 1. Augustine's world; Africa: world politics
Thagaste: family, church and school
Carthage: rhetoric and religion
Africa to Italy: Manichaeans and pagans
Milan: worldly success and renunciation
Return to Africa: monks and bishops
Part 2. Describing a life
The first ten books are about me...'
'I want to know all about you'
Spiritual biography
True Confessions? Narrative and memory
Multiple readings and exegesis
Narrative and Memory
Telling stories
Speaking the truth: rhetoric and style
Intertexts: Bible, classical culture and philosophy
Hearing Confessions: translation and reception
Guide to further reading