Augustine Of Hippo. A Biography Hardcover – 1986
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The See of Hippo Regius represented an oasis in Augustine's troubled world. As Bishop, he intervened with the landlords, he interceded on behalf of prisoners, he gave succor to his small community; he gave alms to the poor. Augustine, according to Brown, prized humanitas, and it is appropriate that the publishers have chosen Carpaccio's very human portrayal of Augustine--his face uplifted in expectation to the light--for the cover of this splendid book.
I especially enjoyed reading Professor Brown's analysis of the "Confessions," which he envisions as a truly revolutionary work among what was once a plethora of conversion tales, which, Brown explains, usually dwelt on the experience after the conversion, burying the pagan past forever. Augustine, as one infers from reading his autobiography, is haunted by his past; he cannot let it go; and, according to Brown, the "Confessions" works as sort of a therapy; an antidote to the guilty pleasures of Cicero and Vergil, even though Augustine cannot help incorporating echos of Plotinus and Neo-Platonism into his thought. "Augustine of Hippo" makes a perfect companion piece to Augustine's "Confessions.
Indeed, Peter Brown's biography ought to be required reading for students of the late Roman Empire.
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