Born between antiquity and the medieval millennium, his autobiography, Confessions, draws on Roman orators such as Cicero, yet reaches forward to explore how the word of God had been lodged within his soul all along.
Life and Times
Augustine was born in North Africa during a time of war along with cultural and religious transitions. Mystery and cult religions were popular. Augustine was able to travel over Northern Africa and into Italy. His interest was captured by Manicheanism, a dualistic religion that resembled early Christianity: life of the mind, spiritual purity. Augustine became a teacher of grammar and established a school of rhetoric. In Italy he became the Chair of rhetoric and wrote speeches that were used at court. He then became interested in Neoplatonism: a philosophy and a quasi-religious form of mysticism, yet he slowly became increasingly drawn to Christianity. Bishop Ambrose and his mother, Monica, teamed up to bring Augustine in to the Christian faith, which he did when he was 32. Both his mother and son died. He returned to Africa alone, surrounded himself with other Christians and turned his home into a monastery. Augustine gained a reputation as a spiritual leader and later became an ordained priest.
Augustine probably began his autobiography around age 43. Writing Confessions opened up the floodgates; he went on to write tons of stuff. Augustine began the autobiographical genre. He wants Confessions to turn his reader inward and contemplate the journey toward the divine. Augustine had one girlfriend for years with whom he had a son, Adeodatus. His mother arranged a marriage to another woman, but Augustine’s relationship with God took over his life. His journey was his search for the self. By revealing his deepest self and his struggles, others began to seek out his works.