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works of the Fathers in trans-
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D ODD1 0307133JL_
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS
THE WORKS OF THE FATHERS IN TRANSLATION
JOHANNES QUASTEN, S.T.D.
Professor of Ancient Church History
and Christian Archaeology
JOSEPH C. PLUMPE, PH.D.
Professor of Patristic Greek
and Ecclesiastical Latin
The Catholic University of America
Washington, D. C.
THE NEWMAN PRESS
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS
TRANSLATED AND ANNOTATED
JOHN J. O'MEARA
M. A., D.PHIL. (OXON)
Professor of Latin at University College
THE NEWMAN PRESS
JOHANNES QUASI EN
PATRICIUS A. O'BcYLE, D, D.
15 Decembris 1950
REV. JOHANNES QUASTEN, S. T. D.
REV. JOSEPH C. PLUMPE, PH. D.
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
BY UNIVERSAL LITHOGRAPHERS, INC,
L THE DIALOGUES OF CASSICIACUM .... 3
2. THE INTERLOCUTORS 4
A. AUGUSTINE 4
B. ALYPIUS 11
C. LICENTIUS 12
D. TRYGETIUS 12
E. NAVIGIUS 13
F. ROMANIANUS 13
3. THE CONTRA ACADEMICOS AND THE
ACADEMICA OF CICERO 14
4. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE
CONTRA ACADEMICOS 18
A. AUGUSTINE AND NEO~PLATONISM 19
B. PLOTINUS OR PORPHYRY? 22
5. THE HISTORICITY OF
THE DIALOGUES OF CASSICIACUM .... 23
A. THE EVIDENCE IN FAVOUR OF HISTORICITY . . 24
B. THE EVIDENCE AGAINST HISTORICITY . . . . . 27
C. CONCLUSION ON THE QUESTION OF HISTORICITY . 31
BOOK ONE: TRUTH AND HAPPINESS 35
THE PROBLEM 40
Is THE MERE SEARCH FOR TRUTH SUFFICIENT
FOR HAPPINESS? 42
WHAT is ERROR? 47
WHAT is WISDOM? 51
NEW DEFINITION OF WISDOM 54
BOOK TWO: THE DOCTRINE OF THE PAGE
NEW ACADEMY 65
EXHORTATION TO ROMANIANUS 65
SUMMARY OF PREVIOUS DEBATE 74
DOCTRINE OF THE NEW ACADEMY 76
THE POSITION OF THE NEW ACADEMY 79
PROBABILITY AND VERISIMILITUDE 81
THE "PROBABLE" 91
WHAT WAS THE REAL TEACHING OF THE
NEW ACADEMY? 94
BOOK THREE: WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE ... 97
MAN'S NEED OF TRUTH 97
Is MAN INDEPENDENT OF FORTUNE? 98
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WISE MAN AND
THE PHILOSOPHER 101
THE WISE MAN KNOWS TRUTH 105
THE QUESTION OF ASSENT 109
TRUTH REVEALED ONLY BY A DIVINITY Ill
AUGUSTINE'S REFUTATION OF THE NEW ACADEMY . . 113
THE Two PRINCIPLES OF THE ACADEMY 122
SOMETHING CAN BE PERCEIVED 125
ASSENT CAN BE GIVEN 133
THE "PROBABLE" INSUFFICIENT AND DANGEROUS . . 137
AUGUSTINE'S THEORY OF A SECRET DOCTRINE
IN THE ACADEMY 143
PLATONISM AND CHRISTIANITY 148
TO THE INTRODUCTION 155
TO BOOK ONE 168
TO BOOK TWO .175
TO BOOK THREE 185
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS
Augustine, Retractationes 1. 1. 1, 4: When, therefore, I
had abandoned both what I had achieved of the ambitions
of this world and what I wished to achieve, and had be-
taken myself to the peace and calm of the Christian life,
and before I was baptized, I wrote first the Against the
Academics or On the Academics. I purposed by the most
cogent reasoning I could muster to rid my mind of the
arguments of the Academics. For they cause many to de-
spair of finding truth and prevent the wise man from
assenting to anything or granting anything at all as clear
and manifest, since to them everything appears obscure and
uncertain. These arguments were troubling me also.
Through the Lord's mercy and help I succeeded in my
design. . . .
This work begins thus: "Q utinam, Romaniane,
hominem sibi aptum"
THE DIALOGUES OF CASSICIACUM
The Contra Academicos (three books), De beata vita*
and De or dine (two books) form a series of dialogues
which may be called the Dialogues of Cassiciacum. They
are the earliest extant works of St. Augustine, and purport
to be the touched-up records of actual disputations held
by Augustine and his friends at Cassiciacum (near Milan)
during the month of November A. D. 386. Shortly be-
fore this time Augustine had undergone a mental and
moral crisis during which his physical health had been
impaired. Shortly after, he retired to Milan to be bap-
tized. These dialogues claim to give a reliable picture of
the mind and way of life of one of the greatest figures
of the West, precisely at the moment which was for him
most critical and vital. They are inextricably bound
up with one another: they were not written in order, but
one book of one work was followed by one book of another,
and so on. 1 According to the more usually received
sequence, Contra Academicos 1 opened the series, and
Contra Academicos 3 was the last but one in the group.
Closely associated with these dialogues are the Soliloquia,
which were, at least in part, written simultaneously with
the whole series, and the early Epistolae of Augustine to
his absent friends.
The life of Augustine is too well known for us to give
anything but the merest outline of his career up to the
date of his baptism in 387. There is, however, one aspect
of his earlier life which must be stressed if we are to
understand the full significance of his conversion, and
appreciate the psychological attitude that was his when
he wrote the work with which we are concerned. It is
an aspect which is usually lost sight of because of the
absorbing interest of the story of his moral and intellectual
experiences before this date. We refer to the question
of his worldly ambitions and success. As we look back
through the ages to the scene of his wrestling with God,
we tend to forget that Augustine's problems were made
much more difficult by the very human preoccupation
of work to be done and a living to be made, not only for
himself, but for those that depended on him. At the
time of his conversion he had the prize of success well
within his grasp. Was he to surrender all, jeopardize all,
for an idea that only with difficulty convinced him? It
was from his own experience of Grace at this juncture
that he became its ardent apostle.
Augustine (Aurelius Augustinus) was born at Tagaste
in Numidia in November, 354, of a heathen father,
Patricius, and a Christian mother, Monnica. 2 After some
schooling in his native town, he was sent to a teacher
In the neighbouring city of Madauros, for Patricius had
already seen that the boy showed great promise, and had
determined that no chance would be denied his son. That
son was later to censure his parents for their too great
interest in a worldly career for him: "for they were re-
gardless how I should employ what they forced me to
learn, except to satiate the insatiate desires of a wealthy
beggary and a shameful glory. 35 3 Nevertheless, the boy
responded to the encouragement given by his parents,
and soon earned the compliment of being acclaimed above
his fellow scholars for his excellence in declamation. 4
His preliminary studies completed, he spent his six-
teenth year at home in Tagaste -idle. His father mean-
while got together the means to send him to Carthage,
there to take up studies to become a professional rhetori-
cian: "Who did not extol my father, for that beyond the
ability of his means, he would furnish his son with all
necessaries for a far journey for his studies' sake? . . . But
while in that my sixteenth year I lived with my parents,
leaving all school for a while, . . . the briers of unclean
desires grew rank over my head, and there was no hand
to root them out." 5 Even his mother was so keen for his
worldly success that she, too, was negligent about the
fate of his soul. 6
On his arrival in Carthage, Augustine immediately
proceeded to win distinction: "And now I was chief in
the rhetoric school, whereat I joyed proudly, and I swelled
with arrogancy." 7 Ambition began to stir in the heart
of the young man himself. He hoped, doubtless, to arrive
at the highest grade of his profession, if not actually the
highest of the imperial civil service. All his hopes, how-
ever, were suddenly threatened by the death of his father.
It was only with the greatest difficulty, and aided, probably,
by Romanianus, a wealthy magnate of his native town,
that his mother managed to keep him on at Carthage.
When he was nineteen years of age, he came upon the
Hortensius of Cicero. 8 The book made a profound and
lasting impression on him. From it he conceived a passion
for truth, which, at the time, he believed was to be found
in the Sacred Scriptures. When, however, he opened
the sacred book he felt disappointed. He cast about for
some guide to truth and fell under the influence of the
Manichees, who professed to lead men to truth merely
by the light of reason and without employing any au-
thority. 9 For almost a decade Augustine was not only a
Manichee, but an ardent apostle of Manicheism. The
full import of this fact upon his mind and later develop-
ment was enormous. 10
When he had finished his studies, he returned to
Tagaste, a Manichee, "swelling with pride." Monnica
refused to receive him into her house, but his friend and
patron, Romanianus, 11 was only too willing to help the
young man. 12 Moreover, he paid him the compliment of
following him into Manicheism, and entrusted to him the
education of his son, Licentius. Soon, however, Augustine
saw an opportunity of becoming a professional rhetorician
at Carthage, whither he returned after a year's absence.
In his Confessions he gives a good picture of the bustle
and anxiety of his life at this period: "For this space of
nine years ... we lived seduced and seducing, deceived
and deceiving, in divers lusts; openly, by sciences which
they call liberal; secretly, with a false-named religion;
here proud, there superstitious, everywhere vain. Here
hunting after the emptiness of popular praise, down even
to theatrical applauses, and poetic prizes, and strifes for
grassy garlands, and the follies of shows, and the In-
temperance of desires. ... In those years I taught rhetoric,
and, overcome by cupidity, made sale of a loquacity to
overcome by." 13 In his anxiety he began to take a deep
interest in the occult dealings of divination. 14 At this
time, too, he wrote his first book: De pulchro et apto,
which is, unfortunately, no longer extant. It dealt with
the general problem of aesthetics, and seems to have been
a bid for recognition by Rome. At any rate, it was
dedicated to a certain Hierius, a Syrian, who had made
good at Rome, and Augustine was soon on his way to
the heart of the Empire. He hoped to emulate the Syrian.
About the time of the composition of the De pulchro
et apto he seems to have read a good deal of philosophy-
enough, at any rate, to give a philosophical flavour to
this first work of his. 15 He began also to see that the Mani-
chean cosmology was childish in comparison with that
of the professional philosophers. His doubts about Mani-
cheism were transformed into profound dissatisfaction
as a result of an interview with a certain Faustus, who,
he had been assured, was to set his mind at ease. He
naturally gravitated towards the scepticism of the New
Academy. 16 This at once encouraged him to concentrate
upon material success, and left him disturbed in the depths
of his being.
In the autumn of 383 Augustine set out for Rome. He
denies that he went there solely to make more money, or
gain greater distinction in his profession. His friends
had assured him that these things were, indeed, to be
had at Rome, and he admits that these considerations
had some weight with him. His primary reason, he says,
was that he had been led to expect that the pupils there
would be better behaved than they were at Carthage. In
this he was to be disappointed, 17 although through his pu-
pils he soon began to be known. 18 About a year after his
arrival in the city he was appointed, through the influence
of the urban prefect, Symmachus, to be master of rhetoric
at Milan, then the seat of the imperial court. 19
At this point we would do well to consider the milieu
in which Augustine lived and worked, and what his
chances of high preferment were.
Hierius was not the only provincial who had gained
considerable success in coming to Rome and Milan.
Ausonius, for example, from being a teacher for thirty
years at Bordeaux, became tutor of Gratian and thereby
helped himself and his family to all the principal mag-
istracies of the West. 20 Neoterius, who started life as a sim-
ple clerk, was taken up by Symmachus, and became prefect
and eventually consul. Palladius, who came to Rome five
years ahead of Augustine, became, on Symmachus' recom-
mendation, master of the offices. Symmachus helped
Pacatus, who came to Rome six years later than Augustine
and recited a panegyric before Theodosius, to be made
proconsul of Africa in 390. Others, including Priscianus,
Marinianus, and Theodorus, were helped by Sym-
machus, about the time when Augustine was appointed
to his position in Milan, to the acquisition of very high
The career of the last-mentioned, Flavius Manlius
(Mallius) Theodorus, 22 is of particular interest, because
he was a friend of Augustine and, as we can gather from
various indications, must have had considerable influence
upon him. 23 This man, to whom Augustine addressed
the De beata vita, and to whose works he refers in the
De or dine 24 (both works contemporary with the Contra
Academicos) as models which he himself could follow in
his dialogues, was born, 25 about the same time as Augus-
tine, of poor parents, as it would seem, in Milan. He
passed in the usual way through the rhetorical schools
and legal profession into the imperial civil service. He
then retired to Liguria to write philosophical dialogues, 26
but was soon recalled to public service. He was consul
in 399. 27
Augustine might, then, hope for high preferment in-
deed. He found himself at Milan in a conspicuous position
close to the emperor and his court. Before a year had
elapsed, he had delivered a panegyric on the occasion of
the consulship (385) of Bauto, 28 who held all power dur-
ing the minority of Valentinian. Such distinction could,
as we have seen, lead to the fulfilment of the highest
ambitions. It is clear that Augustine was at this time
consumed with anxiety over success, and overworked both
in his profession and in canvassing powerful friends. 29
The tempo of his life increased to straining point:
"I panted after honours, gains, marriage, . . . and my heart
was panting with these anxieties, and boiling with the
feverishness of consuming thoughts," 30
But other factors had begun to enter his life to add,
however, only more immediate confusion and turmoil in
his soul. His moral and intellectual experiences were
exacting indeed. From Ambrose he expected much help,
but got little, if any, of that personal direction for which
his soul yearned. 31 Even while he pursued worldly am-
bitions, he began to think of abandoning them for a life
devoted to the service of God. And yet he paused: "We
must not lightly abandon them, for it were a shame to
return again to them. See, it is no great matter now to
obtain some station, and then what should we more wish
for? We have a store of powerful friends; if nothing else
offer, and we be in much haste, at least a presidentship
may be given us. . . ." 32
Let us take up very briefly the story of his moral and
intellectual difficulties. His mother, although a good
Christian, was but a woman of her day when she had
wished to postpone the sacrament of baptism for Augus-
tine until the surge of adolescence had passed. It is not
surprising that Augustine, in the times and circumstances
in which he lived, did not altogether resist the allurements
of the flesh, and that neither the Hortensius nor Mani-
cheism had any practical influence on his behaviour.
More serious were his difficulties about God's nature, 83
the problem of evil in the world, and the Scriptures. In
these questions Manicheism was to prove a positive hin-
drance. Eventually, he understood that the Catholic
Church did not teach what he had been led to believe that
it taught; in fact, Ambrose could make it appear that the
Catholic teaching was defensible. 34
Many circumstances and considerations led him little
by little to seek for baptism: his mother's dreams of his
conversion, in which, at that time, he put great credit;
the fear of death, which seems to have affected him in
his weakened state of health; 85 the Platonist books, 86
which opened up for him vistas of spiritual reality till
then undreamt of; the reading of St. Paul and the Scrip-
tures; the story of the conversion of a fellow countryman,
rhetorician, and Platonist Victorinus; 37 the importunate
example of the monks of Egypt as presented to him by
INTRODUCTION 1 1
Pontitianus; and finally, the dramatic crisis in the garden
from which Augustine represents himself emerging as an
Shortly after this crisis Augustine, in the autumn of
386, resigned his office and with it all hope of worldly
successon the plea of impaired health, and retired to
Cassiciacum, a country villa belonging to a friend, Vere-
cundus, at some distance from Milan. There with his
mother, Alypius, Licentius, Trygetius, and a few others,
he adopted a mode of life which is sufficiently well re-
flected in the Contra Academicos and the other Dialogues
of Cassiciacum. A few months later, early in 387, he was
baptized in Milan. Although he recovered his health, he
never returned to the career which had meant so much
for him. An all-absorbing interest had entered his
life. In his early writings, the Dialogues, we are privileged
to see his mind adjusting itself to its new aspirations. It
would be surprising indeed, if we see there no trace of his
former thoughts also. We shall see, too, some of the
splendour of the vision that enchanted him.
Alypius 38 was a native of Tagaste where his parents
were among the most distinguished people of the munici-
pality. He was a blood-relation of Romanianus, the friend
and patron of Augustine. He studied under the latter at
Tagaste and Carthage, preceded him to Rome, accom-
panied him to Milan and Cassiciacum, and with him was
baptized. He was marked out by his parents for a career
at the bar, and in his professional duties showed integrity
and courage. He was devoted to Augustine, sharing all
his confidences, and, while showing much independence
of mind, was, nevertheless, greatly influenced to becom-
ing a Manichee, for instance by his master. He had
great nobility of character, led a strict life, and was honest
and vigorous in all things. Soon after his baptism he
returned to Africa with Augustine, there shortly to be-
come bishop of his native town, Tagaste.
Licentius 39 was the son of Romanianus and was edu-
cated by Augustine, who always took a great interest in
his welfare. He followed Augustine to Carthage, and is
found again with him in Cassiciacum, where he was
about to begin a study of philosophy. He is represented
as being then very young. 40 He was something of a poet,
unstable, impulsive, and ambitious. He caused untold
anxiety to his father, to Augustine, and to all his friends.
He gave up philosophy if indeed he ever had any interest
in it and seems to have been remiss also in the practice
of his religion. His one ambition was to be consul. R.
Lanciani 41 says that his body was discovered in St.
Lorenzo in Rome in 1862, and that there was evidence
to prove that he had attained senatorial rank, and had
died a Christian.
The sum total of our information on this interlocutor
is taken from the Dialogues of Cassiciacum themselves.
We are told that he was a fellow citizen and pupil of
Augustine; that he was fond of history; and th^t he had
been in military service, which he had preferred to the
tedium of learning. In the Dialogues, however, he is
represented as being then most eager for knowledge and
still very young. 42
Of this brother of Augustine we know very little. We
first hear of him as being with Augustine in Cassiciacum.
That he was a real brother appears from the Confessions/ 3
where he is shown to have been present at the death of his
mother Monnica. He may have been the father of Augus-
tine's nephew, Patricius. 44
Most of our information about Romanianus comes from
the prefaces to the first and second books of the Contra
Academicos, It has been suggested that he was a relative
of Augustine. 45 The latter, however, in his many refer-
ences to him never once makes mention of any relation-
ship whatever. Moreover, Augustine, in recounting Ro-
manianus' claims upon himself, would hardly fail to in-
clude such an obvious tie as relationship. 46 Finally,
Paulinus of Nola, who was not likely to have been ignorant
on such a point, seems deliberately to exclude all such
He was one of the principal citizens of Tagaste, and
was both wealthy and generous. We have already seen
something of the help he gave to, and the interest he took
in, Augustine. He came to Milan, while the latter was
there, to plead at the Imperial court in connection with
some domestic lawsuit in which his wealth was involved. 48
The Contra Academicos, which was addressed to him,
was meant among other things to lead Romanianus to
take a more serious interest in philosophy and to have
greater confidence in it, 49 It had a companion volume, the
De vera religione, which was projected at the time of the
Contra Academicos and was sent to Romanianus a few
years later. It sought to convince him that the Christian
faith was the true religion. 50 Romanianus did become a
Christian, and ever remained a faithful friend and fol-
lower of Augustine. 51 The name Romanianus is found
in conjunction with the gentile name "Cornelius" on an
inscription from Tagaste. 52
THE CONTRA ACADEMICOS
AND THE ACADEMIC A OF CICERO
There is no doubt but that Cicero's Academica was the
primary source upon which Augustine drew both for his
version of the teaching of the New Academy, and also,
in part, for his refutation of the same.
Clear acknowledgement is made in the Contra Acade-
micos of its dependence upon the Academica. Thus, for
example, when Augustine undertakes to give a more de-
tailed refutation of the New Academy, he is particularly
anxious to justify his defection from Cicero's authority. 53
Licentius is recommended to read the Academical There
are many instances of reference to, and quotation from,
It. 55 The correspondence in language between the two
works has been noted. 50 But indeed the very title of
Augustine's work; the dialogue form in which It is cast;
the fact that very little matter is brought forward by
Augustine which was not already found in Cicero all
make demonstration of this point superfluous. 57
A word must here be said about the New Academy. It
received its name because of its relations with the "Old"
Academy, that is to say, the Academy founded by Plato.
From this Academy it had sprung, but, as the name
implies, it had also marked itself off from the original
body. The Old Academy was the Academy of Plato, his
pupils, and their successors from the time of its foundation
in Athens about 385 B. C, until the time of Arcesilas
(ca. 315-241/40 B. C.)/ 8 In general, its doctrine was
positive. Although it placed no confidence whatever in
the perceptions of the senses, it did put absolute trust in
intellectual cognition. Arcesilas, in denying the possibility
of any knowledge, gave the Academy, over which he
presided at the time, a sceptical turn, and, accordingly, was
considered to have founded a "New," "Second," or "Mid-
dle" Academy. Carneades (214/213-129/128 B. C.), 59 in
systematizing the negative criticism of the Middle Acad-
emy and developing a technique whereby he was enabled
to argue convincingly for both sides of any problem, was
considered to have advanced the Academy even more
upon the road of scepticism, and was, therefore, regarded
as the founder of the "Third" or "New" Academy. Cicero
at times professed that he was a follower of the New
Academy, and his Academica was written as an outline
and defence of their position. The influence of the New
Academy persisted spasmodically until the fifth century
A. D. One should add that there were occasional attempts
made within the New Academy to return to the teaching
of the Old. The most notable of these was that of
Antiochus (130/120-68 B. C). 60
It will be remembered that Augustine, two or at most
three years before the date of the Contra Academicos
gave allegiance to the New Academy. 61 One of his first
steps, then, when he accepted the positive teaching of
Christ, was to refute the arguments of the New Academy.
The Contra Academicos is the result; and the spokesman
of the New Academy whom he challenges is Cicero in
The title of this work of Augustine's has assumed
varying forms. Now it appears as "Contra Academicos"; 62
again as "De Academicis"; 63 and yet in other places as
simply "Academicorum liber (libri) ." 64 The variation
finds justification in Augustine's own rather complex
attitude to the Academy (as we shall call the "New"
Academy from now on). This attitude reflects itself in
such phrases as: "I wrote against the Academics or con-
cerning the Academics . . ."; 65 or, "I should never even by
way of joking attempt to attack the Academics. ... I have
imitated rather than refuted them." 6e In short, the work
is both in opposition to, and in support of, the Academics.
Obviously, Augustine had no simple view of the Academy.
He believed, in fact, that it spoke with two voices.
Augustine gives an outline of the Academic position
in the following series of propositions: (1) Man can be
wise. 67 (2) That percept only can be comprehended
which manifests itself by signs that cannot belong to
what is not true. 68 (3) The Academic teaching is limited
to matters within the range of philosophical enquiry. 69
(4) Since no such signs as are required by (2) are found,
nothing can be perceived. 70 (5) As a result of (4), the
wise man will never assent to anything. 71 (6) But since
(5) logically leads to complete inaction, one must act
according to what seems probable. 72 This is the position
defended by Cicero in his Academica, and attacked by
Augustine in the present work. Consequently, the book
may with not a little justification be called "Contra Acade-
micos." It will not be necessary to give here a summary
of Augustine's arguments on this point: they are end-
lessly repeated in the course of the work, and are, it must
be said, of little value.
But the Academic was also one, Augustine believed,
who stood in the unbroken succession from Plato, and held
the master's doctrine intact. For such a one he could
have nothing but support: "I should never even by way of
joking have attempted to attack the Academics. . . ."
Hence, his work can be called "De Academicis." They
had acted wisely in defending the masses from the sensa-
tionalism of the Stoics, by preaching that no knowledge
whatever could be attained and by preserving for the few
the spiritual message of Plato. But now men even in
the mass had become capable of receiving all spiritual
doctrine because of the cleansing and elevation of mankind
through the coming of the Saviour. It was time for the
Academy to cease from its negative and sceptical teach-
ing. This is the real point of Augustine's book, and it is
of the greatest interest and importance in our estimate
of the sincerity of Augustine's spiritual conversion. The
clear recognition of the Incarnation a recognition based
upon Augustine's own personal experience of the efficacy
of the Grace that came to himself in the acceptance of
the mystery, and which raised him so as to be able to
follow ideals that had attracted but had proved impossible
to him before then is a compelling indication of his
allegiance to Christ and His teaching. Unfortunately,
although he appeals to Cicero as a witness, we have no
good reason to believe that his theory about the Academy's
second voice and a spiritual teaching has any foundation
at all 73
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE
The Contra Academicos cannot be recommended as
a valuable contribution to the theory of knowledge, nor
even as an answer to scepticism. It is a personal work,
written by Augustine to meet his own needs, and addressed
to a friend of his. It is true that Augustine had some con-
fidence in its arguments, and that the work was published;
nevertheless, it bears too deeply the traces of experience
to be in any sense an objective discussion of epistemology^
What is lost, however, could have been but of poor
interest and importance in comparison with what is
gained. In this work we have irrefutable evidence in con-
nection with two important controversies dealing with
Augustine, and the evidence is available precisely because
the work is personal.
One of the controversies, debated for just over half a
century, is still alive, and has received little notice in
English. The other has arisen in a serious form only
quite recently. What importance did Augustine in 386
attach to Neo-Platonism as compared with Christianity?
That is the first question. The second is not unconnected.
Who was, or were, the Neo-Piatonist(s) whose writings
admittedly played a striking part in his conversion?
A. Augustine and Neo-Platonism 74
In 1888 appeared two contributions to Augustinian
studies which, with commendable moderation, set the Au-
gustine of the Dialogues of Cassiciacum over against the
Augustine of the Confessions; the "philosopher" of Cas-
siciacum over against the Christian bishop of Hippo. Gas-
ton Boissier 75 was content to explain the obvious element
of truth in the contrast by supposing that Augustine
changed his point of view. Adolf Harnack 76 went some-
what further in declaring that philosophy was Augustine's
primary interest when he was at Cassiciacum, and that
the Confessions really misrepresents his actual develop-
ment; the Dialogues, he maintains, do not bear out the,
idea that Augustine was radically converted to Chris-
Other scholars went much further. Loofs 7T came to the
conclusion that even in 391, five years after his "conver-
sion/ 3 Augustine was nothing more than a Neo-Platonist
with a tincture of Christianity. Gourdon 78 maintained
that the Dialogues and the Confessions represent two dis-
tinct "conversions" and show us "two different men": the
Dialogues are in flagrant contradiction with the Confes-
sions; 79 Augustine was entirely converted to Christianity
only about 400. 80 Thimme 81 contended that the Confes-
sions were not to be trusted; that Augustine in 386 was
neither a sincere Christian, nor free from Academic doubt;
and that it was only gradually that he became first a com-
plete Neo-Platonist and still later a Christian.
These views are well summed up and clearly stated in
a work which is regarded with considerable respect by Au-
gustinian scholars: Alfaric's devolution intellectuelle de
saint Augustin I (Paris 1918) . Lest we should seem to ex-
aggerate the seriousness of the attack on the Confessions,
we shall allow Alfaric to speak for himself:
(1) Quand il a regu le bapteme, il accordait si peu d'importance
a ce rite que, dans les ecrits de cette epoque, ou il parle
frequemment de lui-mme et de tout ce qui Finteresse, il
n'y fait jamais la plus lointaine allusion. II etait alors assez
peu catholique. Sans doute il acceptait la tradition chret-
ienne, mais il ne la considerait que comme une adaptation
populaire de la sagesse platonicienne. Ce n'est que long-
temps plus tard qu' il est arrive a donner a la foi le pas sur
la raison. 82
(2) Moralement comme intellectuellement c'est au N6o~Pla~
tonisme qu' il s'est convert!, plutot qu' a PEvangile. 8S
(3) Elle (Augustine's synthesis in 386) modifie assez sensible-
ment la doctrine du Maitre (Plotinus) pour 1* adapter aux
enseignements de la foi catholique. Mais elle transforme
encore davantage le Catholicisme pour le mettre d' accord
avec la philosophie plotinienne et elle ne le considere que
comme une forme inferieure de la sagesse s bonne seulement
pour les intelligences faibles ou encore novices. 84
(4) En lui le Chretien disparait derriere le disciple de Plotin.
S* il etait mort apres avoir redige les Soliloques, . . . on ne
le considererait que comme un Neo-Platonicien convaincu,
plus ou moins teinte de Christianisme. 85
It is contended, then, that the Confessions mislead us:
Augustine's baptism in 386 was not a serious affair cer-
tainly not as serious as we are led to believe that it was;
Augustine was first and foremost a Neo-Platonist. We are
referred to the Contra Academicos and its companion
dialogues for the proof of these assertions. 86
Replies have been forthcoming to these charges. Among
others, Worter, 87 Martin, 88 Portalie, 89 Mausbach, 90 Mont-
gomery, 91 Hatzfeld, 92 and Bret 93 have written to defend
the Confessions and the traditional view. The book, how-
ever, which is hailed 94 as most authoritative on this side of
the question is that of Boyer: Christianisme et Neo-Pla-
tonisme dans la formation de saint Augustin (Paris 1920),
This book has been criticised, not unfairly, by one who
shared the same opinion as Boyer, but approached the
problem from a different angle. To Norregaard 95 Boyer
seems to be too intent on proving the accuracy of the tra-
ditional view; not to put the questions involved sharply
enough; to be too indecisive; and to have given a presen-
tation of the problem which is at once unsatisfactory in its
methodological principles and psychologically incompe-
tent. We can testify for ourselves that Boyer's analysis of
the Contra Academicos an analysis in which he places
not a little confidence 96 ~- reduces the distinct Neo-Pla-
tonic tone of the prefaces almost to vanishing point, and
ignores some of the really difficult and important pas-
We shall make it clear that Augustine's acceptance of
Christianity in 386 was sincere, full, and as it is (rhetoric
apart) represented in the Confessions. In fact, the corre-
spondence between the Contra Academicos and the Con-
fessions will be seen to be remarkable. 98 It will also be shown
that Augustine at this time was deeply impressed by Neo-
Platonism, and felt that he could make a synthesis be-
tween It and the Christian teaching." We must not distort
our view by allowing to intrude into the picture either our
own realization of the impossibility of such a synthesis, or
Augustine's own later repudiation of the Neo-Platonists.
To the Church he looked as to an authority which he could
always obey, and he accepted the mysteries of the Incar-
nation and the Trinity. To Neo-Platonism he looked for
the rational explanation of everything. He wished not
merely to believe, but to understand. He was persuaded
and this is the nerve of the whole matter that as God was
the source of both the way of reason and the way of au-
thority, there could be no possible conflict between these
two ways. 1<)0 Authority was definitely represented by the
Catholic Church. Reason seemed to lie with the Neo-Pla-
tonists, although he did not subscribe to everything that
they said. 101 From the way of authority he would never
B. Plotinus 102 or Porphyry? M
The second problem has arisen in an acute form only
recently. While supposing that Plotinus was the main
source of Augustine's Neo-Platonism at this time, scholars
had usually indicated Augustine's indebtedness to other
Neo-Platonists also. There was a tendency to underrate
other than strictly Plotinian influences; this, for instance,
is seen in the case of Alfaric. 104 In 1933 W. Theiler pub-
lished his Porphyrios und Augustm/ 05 in which he tried to
justify the conclusion that almost everything philosophi-
cal in Augustine is taken from Porphyry. 106 This was cer-
tainly going tod far. Henry 107 replied, but erred in the
other direction. According to him there is no trace of Por-
phyry in the Augustine of this period at all. 108
It will be seen from our observations on the text that
both Plotinus 10S) and Porphyry no are well represented in
the Contra Academicos. Of the two, Porphyry seems to
have played, as far as the evidence of this work goes, the
more important, and what seems to have been a decisive,
THE HISTORICITY OF THE DIALOGUES
The question of the historicity of the Contra Academ-
and the other dialogues with which It is inextricably
bound up should be discussed at this point. It is of peculiar
interest in this case because, as we have seen, many scholars
maintain that these dialogues are more trustworthy, are
more "historical" than the Confessions. Augustine him-
self claims in the course of the dialogues that they are
absolutely faithful in their recorded report of what hap-
pened. 111 It is to be noted that this precise claim is made,
only in the dialogues, and that this procedure, as an at-
tempt to achieve verisimilitude, is quite usual even in
dialogues that are entirely fictional. Moreover, a close
analysis of the dialogues in question will convince the
student that they are certainly not entirely historical,
however much they may seem to be. It will be necessary
to review some of the evidence for and against the his-
toricity of the dialogues before we shall be in a position
to draw the conclusion warranted by the facts. Ohl-
mann, 112 Van Haeringen, 113 Hirzel, 114 among others/ 15
have examined this question.
A. The Evidence in Favour of Historicity
The great champions of the historicity of the dialogues
are Ohlmann and Van Haeringen. Indeed the scholars
who attack the Confessions depend largely upon their
work. 116 Hence it is desirable to discuss their views. Their
position is in no sense subtle. They maintain that these
dialogues are quite new in their genre: the conversations
did take place; they were duly recorded by secretaries
present at the debates; we are presented with faithful
apart from stylistic modifications and omissions reports
of disputations actually held. In short, what we read was
in each case actually said by the person to whom it is
attributed, although not perhaps in the same form of
words, or in such a summary manner. There was no fiction
employed, or practically none. 117
Ohlmann brings forward the strongest piece of evidence
in favour of this view. It is the testimony from the Retrac-
tations, 118 a work written at the very end of his life by
Augustine and specifically intended to correct any mis-
leading impressions or statements given in his other works.
Augustine there pronounces that the De beata vita, one
of the Dialogues of Cassiciacum, gives a sufficiently reli-
able picture of what happened in a particular instance:
librum De beata vita non post libros De Academicis, $ed
inter illos ut scriberem contigit. Ex occasione quippe ortus
est diet natalis mei tridui disputatione conpletus, sicut
satis ipse indicat. In quo libro constitit inter nos, qui simul
quaerebamus, non esse beatam vitam nisi perfectam cog-
nitionem deL The operative phrase is sicut satis ipse
indicat. The dialogue in question is sufficiently reliable.
From this It follows that the others, too, Including the
Contra Academicos, are equally reliable. 119
Bindemann 12 had already used another argument put
forward by Ohlmann. If the dialogues are not what they
profess to be, that is, touched-up records of actual con-
versations, then we must conclude that Augustine's first
attempts in the dialogue form were not successful. 121
Ohlmann analyses the argument of the De ordine, and
demonstrates that the dialogue is from an artistic point
of view a failure. Augustine could not have invented it.
It must have happened sol It is a new kind of dialogue
a "real" onel 122
Ohlmann urges, too, that the contrast between the
Contra Academicos, De beata vita, and De ordine on the
one hand, and the Soliloquia and other dialogues of this
period on the other, while it makes the fictional character
of the latter appear very clearly, makes the historical char-
acter of the former obvious. 123
Finally, both Ohlmann and Van Haeringen can point
to the actual days on which the various discussions in the
dialogues took place a strong testimony to their his-
toricity. It is difficult for a third person to present this
argument, for the simple reason that Ohlmann and Van
Haeringen give differing accounts of the order of occur-
rence of the discussions. Either the indications within the
dialogues are not consistent, or are difficult to interpret,
or one of the scholars has erred. Another possible explana-
tionthat the indications, being fictional, are worthless-
will be urged shortly. In the meantime it will be useful
to give the two orders of occurrence of the same events
as suggested by Ohlmann and Van Haeringen:
De beata vita
cc cc cc
Cfi CC CC
23 (or so)
Tillemont 125 had suggested this order, but according to him
the discussions started on November the 9th. Knoll 126 follows
Van Haeringen m
Van Haeringen's scheme is an attempt to overcome the diffi-
culties besetting Ohlmann's suggested order. He distinguishes
between the order of occurrence of the disputations, and the
order of composition of the published works. He does not
assign dates. His solution had already been rejected by
ORDER OF OCCURRENCE ORDER OF COMPOSITION
Contra Academicos I Contra Academicos I
2, 3 De beata vita
De ordine I De ordine 1,2
De beata vita Contra Academicos 2, 3
De ordine 2
Van Haeringen's only other serious contribution is his
emphasis upon the internal claims of the dialogues on
the point that a secretary, notarius, was present at the
disputations taking down a faithful report. 129 He admits
indeed supposes that Augustine made some alterations in
the style of the record. 130 But the historicity is guaranteed.
E. The Evidence Against Historicity
Before passing on to the evidence, it is as well to state
that those who argue against the historicity of the dia-
logues do not deny that some or many of the events de-
scribed did take place. What they do deny is that every
detail is historical and that the dialogues are entirely
trustworthy. What is said may be true, but you cannot
be sure of it. HirzeFs attitude is precisely this. 131
It is comparatively easy to dispose of the arguments of
Ohlmann, Van Haeringen, and those that follow them.
To admit, as Ohlmann does, 132 that Augustine omitted,
changed, or contracted anything in the alleged records of
the debates, even though the matter be very slight, does
away with the absolute historicity of the dialogues. 133 If
Augustine allowed himself one change, he very likely
allowed himself many. 134 One has no longer any control
over the historicity.
The text from the Retractations 135 is of little use on the
question as a whole. It is to be noted that Augustine
says there that he wrote (scriberem) the book; that the
book was begun on his birthday and was finished in a
three-day disputation (disputatio, a term which may refer
to an actual debate or equally well to a literary form; 136
the same remark is valid for the term quaerebamus 13T );
and that the book itself indicates these (sicut) circum-
stancesbut not necessarily any othersreasonably well
(satis). It must be emphasized that in the very word
(satis) that guarantees the historicity of two particular
points, there is a warning that the other details recounted
in the book may not be historical Augustine clearly im-
plies that one cannot take everything as stated. The argu-
ment based on the assumption that Augustine could not
write a poor dialogue 138 is, of course, quite useless. Why
could not Augustine fail? There is every indication that
he was dissatisfied with his efforts. In the Contra Aca-
demicos he changes over from question and answer to a
set speech. 139 The dialogues composed by him shortly after-
wards dispense with all verisimilitude, and in the Retrac-
tations 14 he notes that he improved in the technique of
writing through the process of writing. Augustine admits
that he learnt from his mistakes. Why should we deny
that he made any? Again, to assert that the later dialogues
of Augustine are fictional as they certainly are does not
prove that the earlier ones are not fictional. And the whole
force if there is any of the argument from the possi-
bility of assigning dates and order of occurrence of the
dialogues is obviously vitiated by the contradictions of the
accounts. There are many serious difficulties against the
reconstructions of both Ohlmann 141 and Van Haer-
ingen. 142 In any case a fictional dialogue could and
usually attempts to be consistent in details such as dates.
But, apart from the inadequacy of what has been urged
in its favour, there are weighty reasons for arguing against
the absolute historicity of the dialogues.
The first objection arises naturally from the form in
which the works are written the dialogue form. 148 In
composing 144 and publishing 145 these works Augustine
deliberately chose 146 a particular literary genre and did
not fail to employ all the devices to be found in the many
models that were available. We can trace how closely his
dialogues approach to these models, and the measure of
their approximation is, to some extent, a measure of their
untrustworthiness as guaranteeing facts. 147 There is, then:
(1) The division of the works into books. 148 (2) A preface
to some of these books, and in the case of Contra Acade-
micos 1 a preface taking the form of an introductory letter
addressed to the person to whom the work is dedicated: 140
it is lengthy, and partly autobiographical, and also ex-
horts, as is the way in such protreptics, 150 the addressee to
the study of philosophy, and the adoption of a "way of
life." (3) A mis-en-scene which accords exactly with all
the usual requirements of a "school-room" dialogue: 151
the reference to a preceding discussion, 152 the determining
of what is to be discussed at the next session, 153 the sum-
mary of what has been said in the absence of one of the
interlocutors, 154 the presence of a master and disciples, 155
the appointment of an arbiter, 156 and the expression of
astonishment when one of the disciples gives a view which
would seem to be far beyond his powers. 157 (4) The usual
guarantee in such dialogues that the discussions did take
place, and that the report presented is faithful even to the
extent of noting when an interlocutor departed or re-
turned, and of quoting exact words such accuracy being
said to be founded on the taking of notes during the discus-
sions. 158 (5) The traditional range of topics discussed in
such dialogues, not only with regard to such questions as
knowledge, happiness, and the order of the universe, but
also such details as are common in the spiritual-guide-and-
disciple type of dialogue: the souPs return to God, the ne-
cessity to know oneself and God, the importance of revela-
tion, the motifs of philosophy as a harbour, of corporal life
as life in a prison, of the activity of demon-spirits of the air,
of the masses who are sunk in ignorance and the few that
are wise, and so on. (6) Finally, some lesser details which
are commonly found in dialogues: the occasion of the dia-
logue being a birthday or some feast, 159 the attribution of
inspiration and "possession" to one of the interlocutors, 160
the recognition that one's argument will be refuted at
some other time by some person wiser than oneself, 161 and
a concluding prayer to a deity. 162
A second argument against the absolute historicity of
the dialogues is suggested by the change from the dialecti-
cal method of enquiry to what amounts almost to a formal
lecture a change which takes place both in the Contra
Academicos and the De ordtine. 163 Augustine was not the
only one to find it difficult to sustain the dramatic interest
that we find in Plato's dialogues, 11 * 4 and it was only na-
tural that the "Aristotelian" dialogue of set speeches be-
came the usual type. These are to be seen, for example, in
the works of Cicero. Augustine may have tried to imitate
Plato, and found that he could not do it. The first book of
the Contra Academicos, for instance, makes an honest at-
tempt at being dialectical, of proceeding by question and
answer,, but it fails notably to stir one's interest or advance
the argument. It is only in the third book when set
speeches are introduced that something is achieved. In
the Contra Academicos one such speech extends to one
third of the length of the whole work. The introduction
of a speech running to some six thousand words without
interruption cannot but shake our confidence in the his-
toricity claimed for it. In this matter we cannot ignore the
fact that, having completed the Dialogues of Cassiciacum,
Augustine never again attempted dialogues either in the
Platonic or Aristotelian manner; his other dialogues are in
the form of a catechism, and make no claim to historicity.
It may have been that the effort to convey "actuality" was
profitless and troublesome/ 65
A third difficulty is concerned with the complete im-
probability of certain episodes alleged to have taken place.
Even the exponents of the view that the dialogues are his-
torical allow that one or two things may have been in-
vented. Ohlmann, following Kaibel, is prepared to admit
that the activities of the mouse in De or dine 1. 6, 9 may
have been invented. 166 Van Haeringen, following Thimme,
admits that some of the views attributed to Trygetius
could scarcely have been his very own. 167 This whole sec-
tion of the De or dine ( L 5-22) seems to the present writer
to strain credulity far beyond the breaking point. No
analysis can succeed in conveying the impression of un-
reality the reading of this particular text itself imparts. It
is certainly invented. And if this is invented, what confi-
dence can we have in the historicity of the Dialogues of
C. Conclusion on the Question of Historicity
It is admitted by all that the Dialogues of Cassiciacum
are not entirely fictional; they are to some extent, at any
rate, related to facts. The interlocutors were such as they
are represented as being, and at the time in question were
actually in Cassiciacum, and were engaged in such exer-
cises as are described in the Dialogues. This much can be
accepted on the testimony of the Letters and Confessions.
The Retractations, moreover, almost certainly guarantee
the historicity of two details from the De beata vita. From
this we may suppose that other details may be historical,
especially details found in the introductions to the
books 1<J * unless we find conflicting evidence elsewhere.
But the Dialogues of Cassiciacum are emphatically not
to receive our trust, and their evidence is not to be pre-
ferred to that of the Confessions/ 70 for instance, if there is
a conflict (but there is not m ), merely because they claim
to be historical. They are the written compositions of
Augustine, and consciously and closely follow both as to
form and matter previous models. The internal assur-
ances as to their historicity are worthless.
It is impossible to assess the extent to which fiction may
have been employed. Very much may have been invented.
It is evident that the element of fiction is far from being
The text of the Contra Academicos used for the present
translation is that of Pius Knoll in the Corpus scriptorum
ecclesiasticorum latinorum, vol. 63 (Vienna-Leipzig
1922). Knoll's work has been criticised by de Labriolle,
Jolivet, and Henry among others. 172 Nevertheless, his text
is sufficiently superior to that of the Benedictines (Migne,
Patrologia latina 32.905-958) to be preferred to it.
I list three recent translations, the last two of which I
Garvey, M. P., Saint Augustine, Against the Academicians
Jolivet, R., Contre les Academiciens, in Oeuvres de saint
Augustin, l te serie: Opuscules 4 3 Dialogues philoso-
phiques 1: Problemes fondamentaux (Paris 1939).
Kavanagh, D. J. 5 Answer to Skeptics. A Translation of St.
Augustine's Contra Academicos (New York 1943).
TRUTH AND HAPPINESS
I wish, 1 Romanianus, 2 that Virtue, who never allows
fortune 8 to take anyone away from her, could, for her
part, snatch 4 from fortune, resist as she might, the man
that is suited to her purpose. If that could be, she certainly
would already have placed her hands upon you. She
would have proclaimed you her own by right; and putting
you in possession of wealth that is truly secure, she would
not suffer you to depend on chance, even if it favoured
you. But the fact is that, whether because we have de-
served it, or because this is necessary by nature, 5 the di-
vine e spirit 7 that is united to our mortal bodies can never
reach the harbour 8 of wisdom, where the wind of fortune,
favourable or unfavourable, cannot reach it, unless for-
tune herself, good or bad but only seeming so bring it
thither. Accordingly, we can do nothing for you but pray,
so that by our prayers we may win, if we can, the favour
from that God who has a care of these things that He bring
you back to your true self 9 and in doing so He will like-
wise bring you back to us and allow your mind, which for
so long has yearned for respite, to emerge at length into
the fresh air of true freedom.
36 ST. AUGUSTINE
Indeed, it may be that what is commonly called "for-
tune" is governed by a secret ordinance; and we call
"chance" that element in things for which we can offer no
cause or reason; 10 and nothing is either helpful or harm-
ful to the part which does not turn out to be helpful to,
and fit in with, the whole. 11 It is this thought, proposed
in declarations of doctrines most fruitful and far removed
from the understanding of the uninitiated, 12 which that
philosophy 13 to which I call you promises to make clear to
her true devotees. Do not, therefore, think too little of
yourself, merely because it is your lot to have to put up
with many things unworthy of your spirit. For if divine
providence 14 has a care for us which we have no reason
to doubt then, believe me, you are treated as it is right
that you should be treated. You were born, for instance,
into this earthly life, abounding as it does in all error, with
such talent obvious even from your earliest youth when
reason's progress is but weak and faltering as always
makes me marvel. Riches were showered upon you from
every side, and these riches had already begun to over-
whelm in the tides of pleasure your spirit and your youth
which eagerly sought whatever seemed beautiful and good.
It was then, just when you were on the point of sinking,
that those winds of fortune which are commonly regarded
as being adverse, snatched you away.
2. Certainly, if in giving to our citizens bear fights and
spectacles such as were never seen by them before, you
were always received with the most enthusiastic applause
of the whole gathering; if you were praised to the skies by
the unanimous and united cries of foolish men, of which
the number is very great; if no one ever dared to risk your
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK ONE 37
displeasure; if municipal records were to signalize in
bronze that you are a patron not only of the citizens but
also of the neighbouring peoples; if they erected statues of
you, heaped honours upon you, and even invested you
with powers greater than is customary in municipal ap-
pointments; if your table were sumptuously laden for ban-
quests every day; if any man might confidently ask of you
and be assured of receiving whatever he needed or his fas-
tidiousness desired, and if many benefits were lavished
even upon such as did not ask for them.; if your estate it-
self, carefully and faithfully administered by your own
people, were sufficiently large and organized to meet such
great expenses; and if, meanwhile, you yourself were to
pass your time in exquisite mansions, in splendid baths,
occupying yourself with games of dice such as honour does
not forbid, with hunting, and with feasting; if your clients,
your fellow citizens, if, in fine, throngs of people kept on
pronouncing you as a most kind person, most generous,
most elegant, and most fortunate: would anyone, Roma-
nianus, I ask you, would any one dare to mention to you
another happiness happiness which alone is happiness?
Who could then persuade you that not only were you not
happy, but that you were especially unhappy in not hav-
ing the faintest realization that you were unhappy? 15 But
now, how quickly you have been made to realize this by
the many great reverses that you have endured! Obvi-
ously, there is now no need to instance the experiences of
others in order to convince you how fleeting, unreliable,
and full of misery is all that which mortals think to be
good. Indeed, your own experience has been such as we
can use in order to convince others.
38 ST. AUGUSTINE
3. That part 16 of you, then, because of which you
have ever sought after what was honourable and good; be-
cause of which you have preferred to be generous rather
than wealthy; because of which you have never desired
power at the expense of justice; because of which you have
never yielded to adversity or dishonesty; that divine ele-
ment, I say, which has somehow been lulled to sleep in
you by the drowsy lethargy of this life, providence, work-
ing in secret, has decided to rouse by means of the several
harsh bufferings which you have suffered.
Wake upl 17 wake up! I beg you. Believe me, you will
be heartily glad that this world has scarcely flattered you
at all with its gifts and successes by which the unwary are
ensnared. I myself had almost been trapped by these
things, preaching them to others, as I did, had not some
chest trouble compelled me to give up my profession of
windy rhetoric and take refuge in the lap of philosophy.
She now nourishes and cherishes me in that leisure which
we have so much desired. She has freed me entirely from
that heresy 18 into which I had precipitated you with my-
self. For she teaches, and teaches truly, that nothing what-
ever that is discerned by mortal eyes, or is the object of
any perception, should be worshipped, but that everything
such should be contemned. 19 She promises to make known
clearly the true and hidden God and is on the very point
of deigning to present Him to our view as it were, through
4. Our Licentius shares with great enthusiasm this
way of life with me. He has been so entirely converted to
it from the seductions and pleasures dear to youth that I
feel confident in daring to propose him for his father's
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK ONE 39
Imitation. I speak of philosophy from whose breasts no
age can complain that it is excluded. And so that I may
incite you all the more eagerly to cling to her and drink of
her although I have long been aware of your great thirst
for her I have decided to send you a foretaste. It will, I
hope and I beg that my hope be not in vain be sweet,
and, as it were, an enticement to you.
Here, then, I have enclosed a written version of a dis-
cussion between Trygetius and Licentius. For the young
man first mentioned, as a result of his short experience of
military life undertaken with a view to overcoming his
distaste for study, is now with us again and is most eager
and greedy for profound and serious enquiry. A very few
days, therefore, after we had come to live in the country,
when I was exhorting and encouraging them to the pursuit
of study and noticed that they were more prepared than I
had expected and full of enthusiasm, I decided to find out
what ability they had for their age, especially since the
Hortensius, 20 a book of Cicero's, seemed already for the
most part to have won them over to philosophy. Accord-
ingly, I engaged a stenographer, 21 so that:
. . . the winds might not scatter our labour, 22
and I allowed nothing to be lost. In this book, then, you
will read the points and opinions put forward by them
and also the things said by Alypius and myself.
40 ST. AUGUSTINE
5. When, therefore, at my Invitation and at a time
which seemed suitable, we had all come together in one
place for this purpose, I said: "Do you doubt at all that
we ought to know truth?"
"Certainly not," said Trygetius, and the others indi-
cated by their expression that they agreed.
"And if," said I, "we can be happy without knowing
truth, would you still think that the knowledge of truth is
At this point Alypius intervened: "I think it better,"
he said, "that I act as arbiter in this question. For since I
have decided to go to the city, it is better that I be not
asked to defend a side; and, moreover, I can more easily
delegate to another the role of arbiter than that of de-
fender in the discussion. Wherefore, from now on do not
expect from me any contribution to either side."
When all had acceded to his request, and I had repeated
my question, Trygetius said: "We wish to be happy, 28
that is certain; and if this is something we can arrive at
without truth, we need not seek truth."
"What is that?" I said. "Is it your opinion that we can
be happy even though we have not found truth?"
Here Licentius interposed: "Yes, if we seek truth."
When I indicated to the others that I wished to know
what they thought, Navigius said: "What Licentius has
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK ONE 41
said makes me think. Perhaps indeed that very thing, to
live in the search for truth, could be happiness."
"Well, then," said Trygetius, "define happiness, so that
I may gather from your definition what I ought to reply."
"What else do you think happiness is," said I, "but to
live in conformity with that which is best in man?" 24
"Let me not use words loosely," Trygetius said; "I think
you should define for me what that term 'best' means."
"Who," said I, "would think that anything else is best
in man but that part of his spirit whose commands what-
ever else there is in man must obey? And this part, lest
you ask for another definition, can be termed 'mind' or
'reason. 5 But if this does not appear acceptable to you, ask
yourself how you would define either happiness or that
which is best in man."
"I am in agreement," he replied.
6. "Now, then," said I, "to return to the proposition:
do you think that one can be happy without finding truth,
provided only one seek for it?"
He replied: "I repeat my opinion already given. 25 I do
not think it possible at all."
"And you others," I said, "what is your opinion?"
"I think it quite possible," Licentius said. "Our fore-
bears, for instance, whom we know to have been wise and
happy* were happy and good for the sole reason that they
were seeking truth." 2e
"I am grateful," said I, "that you made me judge 27
along with Alypius, whom, I must confess, I had already
begun to envy. Since, therefore, one of you holds that
happiness is possible in the mere seeking for truth, and the
other, that it is possible only in the finding of it, and Navi-
42 ST. AUGUSTINE
giiis a moment ago indicated that he wishes to take his
stand on your side, Licentius, I am quite eager to see how
you will be able to defend your opinions. The question is
an important one and deserves serious discussion."
"If it is a matter of importance," said Licentius, "it calls
for discussion by men of importance."
"Do not look," I replied, "especially here in this villa,
for what is difficult to find anywhere in the world. But
tell us rather why you have given what, I think, is not an
ill-considered opinion, and how you understand it. Surely,
too, experience shows that when men of little moment ap-
ply themselves to great matters, these matters lend great-
ness to them."
Is the Mere Search for Truth Sufficient
7. "I perceive," said Licentius, "that you are doing
your best to make us argue the question with one another,
and, I am sure, you do so with some good purpose in mind.
Let me ask, then, why cannot a man be happy who seeks
for truth, even though he never find it?"
"Because," replied Trygetius, "a happy man as we con-
ceive him must be a wise man, 28 perfect in all things. But
one who is still seeking, is not perfect. I cannot, then, for
the life of me see how you can assert that such a man is
To which the other replied: "Does the authority of the
ancients mean anything to you?"
"Not of all of them," said Trygetius.
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK ONE 43
"Whose authority, then? 53
"The authority, of course, of those who were wise."
"Carneades " asked Licentius, "would you not think
"I am not a Greek/ 5 answered the other. "I do not know
who this Carneades was. 59 29
"Well, then, 55 said Licentius, "what about our own re-
nowned Cicero? What do you think of him? 53
After a prolonged silence, the other replied: "He was a
wise man. 55
"In that case, 55 said Licentius, "his opinion on the point
at issue has some weight with you, has it not? 55
"It has, 55 was the reply.
"Listen to it, then, for I think that you have forgotten
it. It was Cicero's opinion that a man is happy if he seeks
for truth, even though he should never be able to find
it. 55 30
"Where, 55 asked Trygetius, "has Cicero said this? 55
"Who does not know, 55 Licentius rejoined, "that he af-
firmed most strongly that man could perceive nothing,
and that nothing is left to the wise man to do but to seek
diligently for truth, because, if he were to give assent to
uncertainties, even though perhaps they were in fact true,
he would have no guarantee against error. And to be in
error is the greatest fault in one who is wise. 81 Accord-
ingly, if we must believe that the wise man is necessarily
happy, and that wisdom has its perfection in the mere
seeking for truth, why do we hesitate to believe that hap-
piness itself can be achieved in the mere search for truth? 55
8. The other in his turn asked: "Well, now, may I re-
turn to something which I conceded without giving it suf-
ficient thought? 55
44 ST. AUGUSTINE
Here I Intervened: "People who enter Into a discussion
in order to give a childish exhibition of their intelligence,
and not through any desire of finding truth, do not usually
allow such a request. But I not only allow the request
and that all the more as you are still in need of formation
and instruction but it is my wish that you make it a rule
that you ought to return to the discussion of such points
as you have granted on too little reflection. 55
Licentius, too, remarked: "I think we have real progress
in philosophy when a disputant thinks little of victory as
compared with the discovery of what is just and true. Ac-
cordingly, I am glad to defer to your rules and advice, and
allow- for this matter is for me to decide Trygetius to go
back to what he thinks he conceded too lightly. 55
Then Alypius said: "You yourselves agree with me that
the time has not yet come for me to exercise the powers of
the office entrusted to me. But since the journey which I
have planned for some time compels me to break away,
my associate judge will not refuse to take my place and
exercise a double power until my return. Indeed, I can see
that this discussion between you is going to last for a good
When he had left, Licentius asked: "What was it that
you conceded too lightly? Tell us. 55
He replied: "I too lightly conceded that Cicero was
"So, Cicero was not a wise man, Cicero who not only
was the first to treat of philosophy in the Latin tongue, but
brought that process to perfection? 55
"Even though I should grant him to be wise," said he,
"that does not mean that I approve of everything he said. 55
"Well, now, you will have to disprove many other prop-
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK ONE 45
ositions of his if you are to escape seeming impertinent
in attacking the proposition in question!"
"What if I am prepared to assert that this was the only
point on which he was not right? So far as I can see,
what concerns you is the weight of the reasons which I
bring forward to clinch my argument and that only."
"Go on," said the other, "what can I do to oppose him
who proclaims that he opposes Cicero?"
9. Whereupon Trygetius said: "I wish that you who
act as judge would consider how you defined happiness
earlier on: you said that he is happy who lives in confor-
mity with that part of his spirit which, as is right, should
govern the other parts. As for you, Licentius, I wish you
would concede to me for I have through that freedom
which especially philosophy promises to win for us,
thrown off the yoke of authority that the man who still
seeks truth is not perfect."
After a long silence, the other replied: "No, I do not
make that concession."
"Why?" asked Trygetius. "Explain yourself. I am all
ears and am dying to hear how it is possible that a man
can be perfect while still seeking truth."
"I agree," said he, "that one who has not arrived at his
goal is not perfect. But it is my opinion that only God, or
perhaps the soul of man once it has abandoned this body,
this dark prison house/ 2 can know the truth of which we
speak. Man's end, however, is perfectly to seek the truth.
Our ideal indeed is perfection a perfection, however,
which is proper to man."
"In that case," said Trygetius, "man cannot be happy.
How could he be, if he cannot achieve that which he earn-
46 ST. AUGUSTINE
estly desires? But the fact is that man's life can be happy,
since he can live in conformity with that part of his spirit,
which, it is right, should govern in man. Therefore, he
can find truth. Otherwise, his only course is to get a grip
on himself and refuse to desire truth so that, since he can-
not possess it, he may thus avoid being of necessity un-
"But this precisely is happiness for man," said the other,
"perfectly to seek truth; for this is to reach the end beyond
which one cannot go. That man, therefore, who is less
persistent in the search for truth than he ought to be, does
not arrive at the end of man. Whereas he who devotes
himself as much as a man can, and ought, to the finding
of truth, even if he does not find it, is happy. He accom-
plishes all that he was born to accomplish. If he fail to
find truth, the failure is because nature has refused the
favour. Finally, since man must of necessity be either
happy or unhappy, is it not sheer madness to say that
that man is unhappy who, as far as he can, is active by
day and by night in the search for truth? He must, there-
fore, be happy. So, it seems to me that our definition of
happiness is more in favour of my view. For if that man
is happy, as indeed he is, who lives in conformity with
that part of his spirit which rightly governs the other
parts, and that part is called 'reason,* then let me ask if a
man who perfectly seeks truth does not live according to
'reason'? Since it is ridiculous to hesitate, why do we not
say that man is happy in the mere search for truth?"
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK ONE 47
What is Error?
10. "For my part," said Trygetius, "the man who is
in error seems to me neither to live in conformity with
reason nor to be in any way happy. And everyone who
ever seeks and never finds, is in error. Hence, you must
prove either of two things: that a man who is in error can
be happy; or that he who never finds what he seeks 9 is
not in error."
"One who is happy cannot be in error/ 5 Licentius re-
plied. When he had remained silent for a long time, he
said: "One who seeks is not in error, because he is seeking
precisely that he may not err."
Then Trygetius said: "True it is, he is seeking so that
he may not err; but he is in error when he does not find
what he seeks. You counted his unwillingness to err as an
argument in your favour as though no one were ever in
error against his will, or as if there were anyone at all who
errs without doing so against his will!"
When Licentius was at a loss for a long time what he
should say in reply, I intervened: "You must define what
error is. Obviously, now that you have penetrated deeply
into it, you can see its distinguishing marks more readily."
"I 5 " said Licentius, "cannot define anything, even
though it be easier to define error than to confine it."
"I," said the other* "shall define it without any trouble
at all not by reason of any mental acumen, but because of
the strength of my case. For, assuredly, to be in error is
ever to seek and never to find."
48 ST. AUGUSTINE
"If I," said Licentius, "could with any ease refute even
that definition, I should have ceased long ago to fail in
support of my case. But either the matter is in itself dif-
ficult, or it appears so to me; wherefore, I beg of you to ad-
journ the discussion until tomorrow morning. As you see,
though I have thought the matter over carefully, I cannot
think of anything to reply today."
I decided that his request should be granted, and the
others agreed. We got up and walked about, talking of a
great variety of things, while he remained absorbed in
thought. When he saw how vain his efforts were, he de-
cided to give his mind a rest and join in our conversation.
Later on when evening came, they wanted to return to the
old battle, but I calmed them down and persuaded them to
agree to adjourn the discussion to some other day. Then
we went to the baths,
11. On the following day when we had sat down to-
gether, I said: "Take up what you began yesterday."
Licentius replied: "If I am not mistaken, the discussion
was adjourned at my request, because the definition of er-
ror proved too difficult for me/ 5
"In that," said I, "it is clear that you are not in error and
I would heartily wish that this might be a good omen 33
for you of what is to come."
"Listen, then," he said, "I would have given this defini-
tion yesterday also, if you had not intervened. Error, in
my opinion, is the approbation as true of what is not true;
and a man who thinks that truth is always to be sought
for, can in no way fall into this: he who approves of noth-
ing, cannot approve of what is not true. Therefore, he
cannot be in error. But it is very easy for him to be happy.
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK ONE 49
I shall not have to go far to show you how. If we our-
selves could pass every day as we passed yesterday, I can
see no reason why we should hesitate to call ourselves
happy. For we passed the time in great peace of mind,
keeping our spirit free from every defilement of the body, 84
and far removed from the burning flames of all desires.
We cultivated 'reason 5 to the best of human capability,
that is, we lived in conformity with that divine part of
the spirit; and this we agreed in our definition of yester-
day is happiness.
And yet, so far as I know, we found nothing. We only
sought for truth. Man can, then, be happy in the mere
search for truth, even though he can never find it. And
as for your definition, note how easily it is proved wrong
by a simple consideration. You said that to be in error was
ever to seek and never to find. Suppose that a man is not
seeking anything and is asked, for example, if it is now
daytime, and without due reflection at once conjectures
that it is nighttime and replies to that effect, do you not
think that that man is in error? Your definition, then, has
not embraced even this monstrous kind of error. And if,
in addition, it has embraced those who are not in error,
could any definition be worse? If a man, for instance, were
going to Alexandria and were going by the direct road,
you could not, I take it, say that he was one who was in
error. But if, meeting with various obstacles, he should
spend a long time upon the way and should be overtaken,
while still on the journey, by death, has that man not
always sought and never found and still was not in error?"
"He did not always seek/ 5 said Trygetius.
12. "You are right," said Licentius, "and your remark
50 ST. AUGUSTINE
Is to the point, for now your definition is shown to be
absolutely irrelevant. Certainly, it was not I who said
that he was happy who always sought for truth. That a
man should always seek for truth is not possible: first, be-
cause a man does not exist always; secondly, because when
he does begin to be a man, he cannot then proceed to seek
for truth. He is prevented by his age. Or, if you under-
stand by 'always' that he allows no time to be lost in which
he can in fact perform the act of seeking, you must then
go back again to the road to Alexandria! Suppose that a
man from the time when he is not prevented either by age
or commitments from undertaking the journey, sets out
upon that way and, as I said above, although he at no
point leaves the straight road, 35 nevertheless dies before he
can reach his destination: you will certainly be greatly in
error, if you think that he was in error, although during
all the time he could, he never ceased to seek and yet never
found the end of his journey. Consequently, if my ac-
count is true; and if in accordance with it that man is not
in error who, even though he does not find truth, seeks for
it to the end, and is happy because he lives in conformity
with 'reason'; and if your definition is refuted and should
not, even if it were not refuted, engage my attention any
further, if only because by my own definition my case has
been upheld: why, I ask you, have we not already ceased
from this discussion?"
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK ONE 51
What is wisdom?
13. Trygetius resumed: "Do you concede that wisdom
is the right way of life?"
"Yes, I do not doubt that/ 5 replied Licentius; "but all
the same, I would like you to define wisdom for me, so that
I may know whether your notion of it is the same as
The other asked: "Is it not sufficiently defined for you
in the terms of my question? You have already conceded
what I wanted. For unless I am mistaken, it is correct to
call wisdom the right way of life." 86
"Nothing/ 5 said Licentius, "seems more ridiculous to
me than that definition. 5 '
"That may be, 55 replied Trygetius, "but go easy, please.
Think before you laugh. Nothing is more contemptible
than a laugh which rightly deserves to be laughed at. 55
"But do you not agree/ 5 said Licentius, "that death is
the contrary of life?' 5
"I do/ 5 said the other.
"In that case/ 5 said Licentius, "it seems to me that
nothing better deserves to be called the way of life than
that way by which one takes steps to avoid death/ 5
"Therefore, if a traveller in order to avoid a side road
which, he has heard, is infested with brigands, continues
straight along the highroad and thus avoids death, has he
not followed the way of life, and that, too, the right way
52 ST. AUGUSTINE
of life? And nobody calls that 'wisdom.' How 3 then, can
wisdom be every right way of life? I conceded only that
wisdom was a right way of life though not the only one.
Your definition should not embrace anything irrelevant.
Therefore, if you please, try again. What in your opinion
14. Trygetius was silent for a long time. Then he said:
"Well, if you have made up your mind never to put an
end to this question, I give you this other definition. Wis-
dom is the right way of life that leads to truth"
"It is the same story over again," replied the other.
"This definition also refutes itself. To illustrate: when ac-
cording to Virgil, Aeneas had been told by his mother:
'Proceed and direct your footsteps where the way leads you,' 37
following this way he arrived where he had been told,
that is, at truth. Maintain, if you care to, that where he as
he walked, put his foot, can be called wisdom. But I am
very foolish, indeed, in trying to refute your description
of wisdom, since no other is more favourable to my cause.
For you said, not that wisdom is truth itself, but that it
is the way that leads to truth. Whoever, therefore, uses
this way, by that very fact uses wisdom; and he who uses
wisdom, is necessarily wise. Hence, he will be wise who
perfectly seeks truth, even though he has not arrived at it.
In fact, as I see it, the way that leads to truth is best under-
stood to be the diligent search for truth. Using this way
alone, then, he will already be wise, and no wise man is
unhappy. Every man, however, must be either happy or
unhappy. Wherefore, not only the finding of truth, but
also the search itself, and by itself, for truth, will make
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK ONE 53
15. Trygetius smiled and resumed: "I deserve that this
should happen to me, since I have imprudently agreed
with my adversary on a side issue. As if I were expert in
defining! Or as if there were anything, in my opinion,
more futile in discussion! Would there ever be an end if
I were again to ask you for a definition 38 of something, and
then, pretending that I did not follow anything you said,
if I were to demand a definition of the words of that defi-
nition, and so on of every single word that would be em-
ployed as a consequence? If it is right to demand from
me a definition of wisdom, then will it not be right for me
to demand a definition even of what is most obvious? Is
there any word of which nature has imprinted in our spirit
a clearer notion than that word 'wisdom'? I do admit,
however, that once the notion itself leaves as it were the
harbour of our mind and spreads the sails of words, im-
mediately it is menaced a thousand times with the ship-
wreck of misrepresentation. Accordingly, let there be no
definition of wisdom demanded, or let our judge be good
enough to step down and come to her defence."
At that point, seeing that it was getting too dark to write
down the record, and that they were embarking as if anew
on a very big subject of discussion, I adjourned the debate
until the following day. The sun had already begun to set
when we had started the discussion, and we had spent al-
most the whole day in attending to matters on the farm
and in going over the first book of Virgil.
54 ST. AUGUSTINE
New Definition of Wisdom
16. When it was daylight-for so we had arranged it
the day before, in order that we might have plenty of
time immediately we set about the problem which we
had put before ourselves. I said: "Yesterday, Trygetius,
you asked me to give up being judge and to protect the in-
terests of wisdom as if wisdom in your discussion actually
had any enemy to fear, or, no matter who was defending
her, should be in such straits as to be forced to ask for
greater assistance. 39 As a matter of fact, the only question
which has arisen between you is: What is wisdom?' And
here neither of you opposes her, for each of you wants her.
And if you, Trygetius, think that you have failed in de-
fining wisdom, you should not on that account abandon
the remaining defence of your position. And so, I shall give
you a definition of wisdom, a definition, however, which is
neither mine nor new, but the one given by the men of
old; and I am surprised that you did not remember it.
This is not the first time that you have heard that 'wisdom
is the knowledge of things human and divined " 40
17. Here Licentius, whom I had begun to think would
after that definition be at a loss for something to say, im-
mediately added: "Why, then, I ask you, do we not call
wise that depraved fellow, who to our own certain knowl-
edge indulges himself in countless debaucheries? I mean
the notorious Albicerius, who for many years at Carthage
gave some extraordinary and true answers to those who
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK ONE 55
consulted him. I could give you innumerable instances;
but I am talking to people who know all about it for them-
selves, and a few cases are enough for my purpose." Turn-
ing to me, he said: "When a spoon could not be found
anywhere in the house, did he not, when I consulted him
at your request, not only tell me promptly and accurately
what was missing, but also named its owner and where it
was hidden? Again, when a slave, as we were going along
to consult him, had stolen a certain number of the coins
which he was carrying, Albicerius ordered him to count
out the full sum, and before our very eyes made the slave
return those he had stolen, before he himself had seen the
coins or had found out from us how much had been
brought for him. I omit the fact that his answer to what
we consulted him about was perfectly correct.
18. "And what of the case about which you yourself
told us, and which used to cause Flaccianus, 41 a man of
distinction and learning, to wonder? He had entered into
negotiations about buying a farm, and interviewed our
'prophet* to see if he would be able to tell him what he had
been doing. Albicerius immediately told him not only the
nature of his business, but also and this caused Flac-
cianus to utter loud cries of astonishment gave even the
name of the farm, a name so peculiar that Flaccianus him-
self could scarcely remember it. And I cannot recall with-
out stupefaction the fact that to a friend of ours, and a
disciple of yours who wished to make fun of him in de-
manding insolently that he should tell him of what he was
thinking in his mind, Albicerius replied that he was think-
ing of a line of Virgil. Amazed, the other could not deny it,
but went on to ask what line it was. Albicerius, who
56 ST. AUGUSTINE
scarcely ever had noticed even In passing the school of a
grammarian, gave out the lines glibly without difficulty or
hesitation. Does it follow that the things about which he
was asked were not things human? Or did he give precise
and true answers to those who consulted him without a
knowledge of things divine? Either hypothesis is ridicu-
lous. For things human are nothing but the things of men,
such as silver, coins, a farm, and, finally, the act of think-
ing itself. And who would not rightly understand by
things divine those things by means of which divination
itself comes within man's power? If we agree, then, to the
definition of wisdom as the knowledge of things human
and divine,* Albicerius was wise."
19. Trygetius replied: "To begin with, I do not call
that knowledge in which he who professes it is sometimes
deceived. For knowledge is made up of things not only
comprehended, but comprehended in such a way that in
that knowledge no one should be in error, or should vacil-
late, no matter what the opposition be. And therefore,
some philosophers say with great justice that such knowl-
edge can be found only in the wise man, who should hold
that which he defends and admits not only certainly, but
also unshakeably. 42 We know, however, that Albicerius
whom you mentioned, often said many things that were
not true a fact which I know not only on the information
of others, but, being present on one occasion, saw for my-
self. Shall I, then, say that that man has knowledge,
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK ONE 57
though he has often said things that were not true, a man
whom I would not say had knowledge even if with hesi-
tation he spoke truth? You can take what I say about him
as my opinion on haruspices, 43 augurs, 44 all those who con-
sult the stars, 45 and all interpreters of dreams, 46 or you will
have to produce, if you can, one of this ilk who upon con-
sultation never was vague in his replies and, as proved by
the sequel, never gave an incorrect answer. As for seers, 47
I do not think that I need trouble about them: they speak
from the mind of another.
20. "And, though I grant that things human are the
things of men, do you think that anything that chance
can give or take away from us belongs to us? And when
one speaks of the knowledge of human things, does one
mean that knowledge through which one knows how
many, or what kind of, farms we have, or how much gold,
how much silver, or, indeed, what lines of another's poetry
we think of in our minds? The real knowledge of human
things is that which knows the light of prudence, the
beauty of temperance, the strength of fortitude, and the
holiness of justice. Verily, these are the things which we
can dare to say, without dreading fortune, are truly ours.
"If that fellow Albicerius had learned these, he would
never, believe me, have lived in such depravity and de-
bauchery. And the fact that he told his questioner what
verse he was thinking of in his mind, even this does not,
I think, count among the number of things that are ours.
I do not deny that the liberal arts can to a certain extent be
possessed by our minds. But even the entirely uneducated
has it within his power to recite or declaim a verse belong-
ing to another. It is not strange that such things should
58 ST. AUGUSTINE
come to our minds, considering that they can be perceived
also by certain contemptible beings living in the air called
'demons/ 48 who may, I confess, be superior to us in pre-
cision and subtlety of the senses, but not, I hold, in reason.
This kind of thing comes about in some mysterious way,
a way entirely beyond our usual sense perception. If we
should wonder at the extraordinary sagacity in which she
is superior to man with which the tiny bee flies from no
matter whence to the place where she has already placed
her honey, should we on that account regard her as
superior to us, or, at any rate, put her ori the same level
2L "And so, I would think more of your Albicerius if,
when questioned by one who was eager to learn, he had
taught him the art of verse-making itself; or, when invited
to do so by one of his clients, had straightway composed
verses of his own on a theme proposed to him there
and then. This is what Flaccianus himself, as you are ac-
customed to tell us, often said. He was a man who in his
own exalted spirit scorned and derided that kind of divi-
nation, and attributed it so he used to say to some con-
temptible sort of being by whose inspiration, as it were,
Albicerius was usually filled and prompted so as to be able
to give these replies. Man of great learning that he was,
he used to ask those who wondered at these replies, if Al-
bicerius could teach grammar or music or geometry. And
who that knew the man, could deny that he was entirely
ignorant of all such knowledge? Accordingly, Flaccianus
most strongly advised those who had acquired this knowl-
edge to elect without any misgiving for the operation of
their own spirit over that of such divination, and to do all
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK ONE 59
they could to prepare and support that mind of theirs with
this knowledge. Thus it would be able to rise superior to,
and leap beyond, that airy creation of invisible beings.
22. "Now, all agree that things divine are of a much
higher order and more sublime than are human things.
How, then, could Albicerius have acquired a knowledge of
them who knew nothing of his own real nature? He may
perhaps have thought that the stars which we see each
night, are something great when compared with the true
and inscrutable God, who is perhaps but only rarely-
perceived by intelligence, and is never perceived by any
sense. The stars, however, are before our very eyes. They
are not, therefore, those divine things which wisdom pro-
fesses that she alone knows. And the other things which
are exploited by those so-called diviners, either in order to
show off, or to make money, are certainly of less account
than the stars. Albicerius, then, had no part in the knowl-
edge of things human and divine, and in vain have you in
this way attempted to undermine our definition. Finally,
since we should regard whatever does not fall into the cate-
gories either of divine or of human things, as most un-
worthy of our attention, and should altogether contemn
it, where, I ask you, is that wise man of yours to seek for
"In things divine," replied Licentius, "for undoubtedly
even in man there is capacity that is divine."
"Does Albicerius, then, already know those things, for
60 ST. AUGUSTINE
which the wise man of whom you speak will continue al-
ways to seek?"
"Yes/ 5 said Licentius, "he already knows things divine,
but not those which are to be sought for by the wise man.
Who could concede to him the power of divination, yet
deny to him the possession of things divine, from which
divination is named, without upsetting all the received
conventions of speech? Wherefore, unless I am mistaken,
that definition of yours has embraced something other
than what pertains to wisdom."
23. Trygetius answered: "He who brought forward
that definition will defend it, if he chooses. But now-
answer me, so that at long last we may come to the point
of the debate."
"I am ready," said Licentius.
"Do you concede," he asked, "that Albicerius knew
"I do," he said.
"He was better, then, than the wise man you describe."
"Not at all," said the other, "for the kind, of truth for
which the wise man seeks, is not acquired not only by that
raving charlatan, but not even by the wise man as long as
he lives in the body. This truth, however, is so great that
it is much better ever to seek for it than at any time to
find the other kind."
"I," said Trygetius, "shall have to have recourse in my
difficulties to my definition. Now, if this seemed faulty to
you because it extended to him whom we cannot allow to
be a wise man, will you approve, I ask you, if we say that
wisdom is the knowledge of things human and divine, but
only of those which have relation to happiness?*'
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK ONE 61
"That indeed/ 9 said the other, "is wisdom, but not that
alone. Your former definition trespassed on another's pre-
serve; but this one does not protect its own interests.
Hence, the former incurs the charge of greediness, the
latter, of folly. I shall myself now explain my view by way
of a definition. Wisdom, in my opinion, is 'not only the
knowledge of, but also the diligent search for, those things
human and divine which have relation to happiness.' If
you wish to split up that definition, the first part, in which
knowledge is embraced, pertains to God, and the second
part, which is content with searching, pertains to man.
God, therefore, is happy in the former. Man is happy in
"I am amazed/* remarked the other, "that your wise
man should have to waste his energy as you say."
"How," asked Licentius, "does he waste his energy,
when for his expenditure he gains so much? For by the
very fact of his seeking, he is wise, and by the fact that he
is wise, he is happy. He frees his mind as far as possible
from all the folds of the body, and collects himself within
himself; 49 he does not allow himself to be torn apart by
passions, but in great peace always applies himself to him-
self, and to God, so that even here in this life he makes full
use of reason which, as we have already agreed, constitutes
happiness, and finds himself on his last day in this life pre-
pared for the possession of that which he desired, and,
having already partaken of human happiness, deservedly
enjoys the divine."
62 ST. AUGUSTINE
24 When Trygetius had for a long time been at a loss
as to what he should reply, I said: "I do not think,
Licentius, that our friend will be without arguments on
this point if we allow him some leisure to find them. Has
he at any point been at a loss for a reply? To begin with,
when the question was raised about happiness and it was
agreed that only the wise man could be happy, since even
in the judgment of the foolish, foolishness does not give
happiness, he made the point that the wise man ought to
be perfect, and that he who was still trying to find out
what truth was, was not perfect, and, on that account, was
not happy. Then you made difficulties for him by appeal-
ing to authority; but he, although he was momentarily put
out by the authority of Cicero, nevertheless immediately
recovered, and with a certain noble disdain regained at one
bound the height of freedom. Once again he seized what
had been violently knocked from his hands, by asking you
if you thought that he who was still seeking was perfect.
If you admitted that he was not perfect, he would have
gone back to the beginning and would have tried to
demonstrate that by the definition under discussion the
man who ruled his life in conformity with the law of his
mind was perfect; and from this would result that nobody
could be happy unless he were perfect.
"When you had extricated yourself more deftly than I
expected by maintaining that the perfect man was he
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK ONE 63
who sought for truth with all possible diligence, then, be-
cause in fighting your case you exposed yourself by placing
too much confidence in that definition of ours 5 according
to which, we were agreed^ the happy life, when all was
said, was that which was led in conformity to reason, he
very definitely put you in a fix again. He overwhelmed
your defence and, routed, you would have lost the whole
issue, if a truce had not given you respite. For where have
the Academics, whose view you defend, concentrated their
strength, if not in the definition of error? And if this
definition had not come back to your mind during the
night, perhaps in a dream, you would have had nothing
to reply, although you yourself had already touched upon
the very answer you were seeking when you were ex-
pounding Cicero's view.
"After that we came to the definition of wisdom, and
this you attempted to undermine with such clever subtlety
that not even your abettor himself, Albicerius, would per-
haps have been wise to your tricks! With what vigilance,
with what strength did Trygetius then hold out against
youl He had almost tied you up and kept you down, if
you had not saved yourself at last with a new definition
to the effect that wisdom for man consisted in the search
for truth from which, on account of the resulting peace of
spirit, happiness would follow. To this point of yours Try-
getius need not reply, especially if he asks the favour that
for what is left of the day, the discussion be postponed.
25. "But, to be brief, let us now, if you please, close the
discussion. Indeed, I think that it is unnecessary for us to
delay upon it. We have sufficiently, in view of our pur-
pose, dealt with the matter, one which could be disposed
t)4 ST. AUGUSTINE
of in a very few words, if I did not wish to put you through
an exercise and make a test of your capacity and tastes.
This is a real concern of mine. When I decided to do all I
could to encourage you in the quest of truth, I started to
ask you how much importance you attached to it. But I
found you all so intent on this, that I do not desire more.
We desire to be happy, whether that is to be achieved by
the finding of, or the diligent search for, truth. Con-
sequently, we must put all other things behind us, if we
wish to be happy, and seek out truth,
"And now, let us finish, as I said, this discussion, and,
above all, Licentius, let us send a record of it to your father.
I have already made him really interested in philosophy.
I am only waiting for the good turn of fortune that will
admit him to it. He will be better disposed to yearn for
these pursuits of ours more ardently when he learns not
only by your telling him, but also by reading the record of
our debate, that you are thus spending your time with me.
But if, as I think, you approve of the Academics, then you
must marshal even greater resources to defend them, for
I am determined to arraign them myself."
As I said this, luncheon was announced 50 and we broke
up the session.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE NEW ACADEMY
Exhortation to Romanianus
If it were as inevitable that one should find wisdom
when one seeks for it, as it is that one cannot be wise while
being without its discipline and knowledge, then straight-
way the sophistry, obstinacy, 1 inflexibility, or, as I some-
times think, the policy 2 of the Academics which was so
appropriate to the times, would have been buried with
those times and with the bodies of Carneades and Cicero
themselves. But whether because of the many different
troubles of this life, which for your own part, Romanianus,
you have experienced; or because of a certain stupor or
lethargy or sluggishness of our dull minds; or because we
despair of finding, since the star of wisdom does not ap-
pear as easily to our minds as does the light to our eyes; or,
again, because- and this is the common mistake men,
wrongly thinking that they have already found truth, do
not seek with diligence, if they do seek, and even acquire
an aversion for such search; 3 it comes about that knowl-
edge is possessed seldom and by the few. And so it happens
that the weapons of the Academics, when one joins issue
with them, seem to be invincible and, as it were, made by
Vulcan 4 and this not to men of little account, but to men
66 ST. AUGUSTINE
of capacity and long training. Accordingly, while one
should employ the oars of all available virtues in rowing
against those waves and buffetings of fortune, one should
especially implore with all devotion and piety the divine
help so that the constant application of oneself to noble
pursuits of the mind may hold its course, nor be put astray
by any chance from reaching the safe and pleasant har-
bour 5 of philosophy.
This is your first task. I fear the danger involved mostly
on your account. From it I want you to be freed. Nor do
I cease to pray dailywould that I were worthy enough to
be heard! for favourable winds for you. And it is to the
virtue and wisdom 6 itself of the great God that I pray!
For what else is He whom the mysteries 7 present to us as
the Son of God?
2. Now, you will help me 8 greatly in my prayers for
you, if you do not despair of our being heard and strive
with us not only with your prayers, but also with your
will, and especially with your mind by nature so ele-
vatedon account of which I seek you, which causes me
extraordinary joy, which I ever admire, but which alas!
lies hidden like a thunderbolt in the clouds of family pre-
occupations. It escapes the notice of many, indeed, of
almost everybody. But it cannot escape my notice and that
of one or two of your intimates. We have often not only
listened carefully to the rumblings of your spirit, but also
have seen some of those flashes which announce the
thunderbolt. I shall not mention for the moment other in-
stances, but one I shall recall Who, tell me, ever mani-
fested such sudden power or showed forth such light of
mind, as to be able with one groaning of reason and a cer-
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 67
tain flame of temperance In one day to overcome com-
pletely a passion which had been most fierce the day
before? 9 Will not, then, that power of yours burst forth
someday and turn the mockery of many cynical men into
awe and stupefaction? And will it not first speak on this
earth certain things prophetic of the future, and then cast
off the burden of the whole body and betake itself again
to heaven? 10 Has Augustine said those things of Romani-
anus in vain? No, He ll to whom I have given myself com-
pletely and whom I now begin to know a little again, will
not allow it!
3. Come with me, then, to philosophy. Here there is
everything that is wont wonderfully to move you when-
ever you are anxious and hesitating. I have no fears for
you on the score of moral apathy or intellectual laziness.
Who, when there was a moment for relaxation, showed
himself more alert than you in our discussions, or more
penetrating? And shall not I make some return to you for
Or is it that I owe you little? When I was but a poor
boy setting out on my studies, you took me up, opening
to me your house, your money, and, what is much more,
your heart. When I lost my father, you comforted me
with your friendship, gave me life with your advice, and
helped me from your resources. In our own town itself
you made me by your patronage, friendship, and the
throwing open of your house to me, almost as distinguished
and important as yourself. When I returned to Carthage
68 ST. AUGUSTINE
with a view to an advance in my profession and when I
revealed my hopes and my plan not to any of my family
but to you, although you hesitated a little because of that
deep-seated affection of yours for your own home town
for I had already begun teaching there nevertheless,
when you found that you could not overcome a young
man's ambition for what seemed to him to be best for
him, you turned with a measure of benevolence truly
wonderful from opposing my plan to supporting it. You
provided for my venture all that was necessary. Once
again you, who had there looked over, as it were, the cradle
and very nest of my studies, supported me now in my
first efforts when I ventured to fly alone. And even when,
in your absence and without your knowledge, I sailed
away, although you were somewhat hurt with me for not
telling you, as had been my wont, you never brought
yourself to accuse me of arrogance, but remained un-
shaken in your friendship. You made no more of your
children deserted by their teacher than of the integrity of
my inmost heart.
4. Finally, whatever I now enjoy in my leisure; the fact
that I have escaped from the bonds of needless desires;
that in laying down the burden of deadly anxiety I begin
to breathe again, to recover, to return to myself; 12 that I
seek most seriously for truth; that I am about to discover
it; that I feel confident that I shall arrive at the highest
measure 13 itself you encouraged me to it, you drove me
on, you made it possible.
Whose 14 agent you were, however, in this, is as yet
conceived by me in faith rather than understood by rea-
son. 15 For when face to face with you I unfolded the secret
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 69
fears of my mind, and declared earnestly over and over
again that I did not consider any fortune to be good for-
tune save only that which would give leisure for philoso-
phy, nor any way of life to be happy save only that
wherein one lived, so to speak, in philosophy, but that I
was held back by the heavy burden of my dependents
whose life was supported by my profession, and by many
other serious considerations, whether of honour or the em-
barrassments of family circumstances, you were so over-
joyed and inflamed with such a worthy zeal for this way
of life, that you said that if you could in any way extricate
yourself from the bonds of your importunate lawsuits, you
would break all the chains that held me, even going so
far as to share your patrimony with me. 16
5. When, therefore, the flame had been set to us and
you went away, we never ceased to yearn after philosophy.
Nor did we think of anything else but that life which com-
mended itself to us as both pleasant and suitable. We
were, it is true, constant in this thought; yet we were not
so keen as we might have been, though we believed that
we were keen enough. For since as yet we were untouched
by that great fire which was to consume us, we thought
that the slow fire with which we burned was the greatest.
But lol when certain books 17 full to the brim, as Celsinus 1S
says, had wafted to us good things of Arabia, 19 when they
had let a very few 20 drops of most precious unguent fall
upon that meagre flame, they stirred up an incredible con-
flagrationincredible, Romanianus, incredible, and per-
haps beyond even what you would believe of me what
more shall I say? beyond even what I would believe of
70 ST. AUGUSTINE
What honour, what human pomp, what desire for
empty fame, 21 what consolations or attractions of this
mortal life could move me then? Swiftly did I begin to re-
turn entirely to myself. 22 Actually, all that I did let me
admit it was to look back from the end of a journey, as
it were, to that religion which is implanted in us in our
childhood days and bound up in the marrow of our bones.
But she indeed was drawing me unknowing to herself.
Therefore, 23 stumbling, hastening, yet with hesitation I
seized the Apostle Paul. For truly, I say to myself, those
men would never have been able to do such great things,
nor would they have lived as they evidently did live, if
their writings and doctrines were opposed to this so great
a good, 24 I read through all of it with the greatest at-
tention and care. 25
6. And then, 26 indeed, whatever had been the little
radiance that had surrounded the face of philosophy be-
fore then, she now appeared so great that if I could show
it, I do not say to you who have ever burned with the de-
sire for it in the days when it was still unknown to you,
but to your adversary 2T himself and as for him, I do not
know whether he is an inspiration to you rather than a
hindrance even he would have contemned and aban-
doned his Baiaes, 28 his pleasant gardens, his refined and
sumptuous feastings, his household troupe, and, finally,
whatever now strongly attracts him towards all kinds of
pleasures. He would fly, an impassioned and holy lover,
amazed and glowing with excitement, to this beauty of
philosophy. For even he, we must admit, has a certain
beauty of spirit, or rather, the seed of such beauty. It
strains to burst forth into true beauty, but puts forth only
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 71
twisted and misshapen shoots amidst the filth of vice and
the smothering briers of false opinions. All the same,, it
does continue to bloom, and can be seen, so far as is al-
lowed, by a few who peer carefully and with attention into
the thicket. That is why he is so hospitable, so refined In
many ways in his banquets, so elegant, so polished, and of
such excellent taste and an urbanity that discreetly lends
its charms to all things.
7. This is what is commonly called philoealia.^ Do
not despise the term because of its common use. For philo-
calia and philosophia have almost the same names and
wish to be considered, as indeed they are, as being of the
same family. What is philosophia? Love of wisdom. What
is philoealia? Love of beauty. The Greeks will tell you so.
And what is wisdom? Is it not true beauty itself? These
two, then, are sisters, born of the same father. But philo-
ealia was dragged down from her heavenly abode by the
birdlime of wantonness, and was locked up in an ordinary
cage. Nevertheless, the close resemblance of name still
belongs to her, a reminder to her captor not to despise her.
Her sister, winging her way unrestrained, frequently
takes notice of her in her wingless squalor and poverty, but
rarely sets her free; and it is philosophia alone that knows
from what origin philoealia is sprung.
Of this entire allegory note, I have suddenly become
an Aesopl -Licentius will give you a more attractive ac-
count in a poem. 80 For indeed, he is almost an accom-
plished poet. If, then, your adversary, who so loves the
72 ST. AUGUSTINE
false, could with healed and open eyes look upon the true
beauty even for a moment, with what delight would he
take refuge in the lap of philosophy! How he would there
recognize you as a true brother and would embrace you!
You are surprised at what I say, and perhaps laugh at
it. But suppose that I could explain it to you, as I would
wish; suppose that you could at least hear the voice,
though not as yet see the face, of philosophy: you would
indeed be surprised; but you would not laugh, nor would
you be cynical about your adversary. Believe me, one
should never despair of any man, and least of all of men
like him. We could cite many precedents. In him you
have a kind of bird that easily escapes from its bonds and
easily flies back to its home, though many others should
remain imprisoned and look on in astonishment.
8. But let me return to ourselves. Let us, as I was say-
ing, Romanianus, devote our attention to philosophy. Let
me repay some thanks to you your son has made a begin-
ning with philosophy. I am putting some restraint on
him: I want him to have a careful training in subjects
that must be taken before, so that later he may proceed all
the more vigorously and firmly. You yourself need not
fear that you lack that training. Knowing you as I do, all
I wish for you is that you should have a favourable op-
portunity. Indeed, what can I say about your talents
except that I wish they were not as uncommon among
men as they are unquestionably present in you? There re-
main yet two defects and obstacles which hinder a man
from finding truth, but on their account I have little fear
for you. Yet I am afraid lest you should, because of a too
mean opinion of yourself, despair of ever finding truth or,
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 73
on the other hand, should believe that you had already
found It. Now, then, ir you suffer from the first of these,
perhaps the enclosed discussion will relieve you of it. It
is a fact that you have often been angry with the Aca~
demies, and all the more so because you knew so little
about them, and all the more eagerly because you were led
on by your passion for truth. Accordingly, with your pa-
tronage to support us, I shall join issue with Alypius and
easily persuade you of my opinion, but only, however, so
as to make it appear probable to you. For you will not
see truth itself, unless you give yourself completely to phi-
losophy. As to the second possibility, namely, that per-
haps you assume that you have found some truth, you
were, it is true, already doubting and seeking when you
departed from us; still, if any of the old superstition 81 has
returned to your mind, it will be immediately got rid of
either when I send you a discussion between us concerning
religion 32 or when I discuss many things with you face
9. I myself am at this time doing nothing but purging
myself of futile and harmful opinions. Accordingly, I
feel that I am better off than you. There is only one thing
of which I envy you, and that is that you should enjoy
alone the company of my Lucilianus. 33 Are you perhaps
jealous in turn that I should say my Lucilianus? In saying
so, however, what else have I said but that he belongs to
you and to all of us who are but one? For what shall I ask
you in compensation for missing him? Can I ask for your-
self? You know that you owe me that much. But now I
say to both of you: Beware lest you think that you know
anything except that only which you know, as you know
74 ST. AUGUSTINE
that the sum of one, two, three, and four is ten. But at
the same time beware lest you think that by philosophy
you will not know truth, or that, at any rate, it cannot be
known as clearly as in the instance cited. Believe me, or
rather, believe Him who says: Seek and you shall find**
Knowledge is not to be despaired of. It will be clearer than
Now let us come to our theme proper. Too late have I
begun to feel that this introduction exceeds its proper
measure, and that is no slight fault. For measure is un-
doubtedly divine, 35 but in my enthusiasm I did not notice
my mistake. I shall be more careful, once I am wise!
Summary of Previous Debate
10. After the previous discussion which we have put
together in the first book, we held none for almost seven
days. We were in the meantime going over the three books
of Virgil that follow the first, and studying them, as it
seemed to be a suitable occupation at the time. As a re-
sult, Licentius became so enthusiastic for poetry, that I
felt compelled to restrain him somewhat. For he would
not willingly allow himself to be called away to anything
else from concentration upon this alone. Nevertheless,
when I, so far as I was able, had praised the light of phi-
losophy, he at length consented to take up again the ques-
tion concerning the Academics which we had postponed.
The day, as it happened, had dawned so bright and
clear that we decided that the most suitable thing to do
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 75
was to brighten 3f> up our minds. We got up, therefore,
earlier than usual and, because it was urgent, did some
work with the farm hands. Then Alypius began: "Before
I hear you discussing the Academics, I should like to have
read to me the discussion which, you say, took place dur-
ing my absence. Otherwise, since this present discussion
arises from it, I shall be at sea, or at least at a disadvantage
in listening to what you have to say. 55
When this had been done and we realized that we had
spent almost the whole morning on it, we decided to re-
turn from the fields, where we had been walking, to the
house. Then Licentius said to me: "Be good enough,
please, to expound briefly for me before lunch the whole
Academic position. I do not want to miss anything that
would help my side."
"This I shall do," said I, "all the more willingly, be-
cause you will eat less while you are thinking of this!"
"Do not be too sure of thatl" he replied. "I have often
observed that many men, and especially my father, eat
the more, the more care-laden they are. And you your-
self did not find that when I was thinking over those prob-
lems of metre, I neglected the table. Indeed, I am often
astonished at myself because of this. Why should one be
especially hungry just when one has his mind on some-
thing else? Who is it that exerts such power over our
hands and teeth when our minds are occupied?"
"Listen rather," I said, "to what you have asked about
the Academics, lest, as you reflect upon those problems of
measures, I find that you are without measure not only In
eating but also in asking questions! If I in the interest of
my own side of the argument conceal any point, Alypius
will tell you of it."
76 ST. AUGUSTINE
"We shall have to rely upon your good faith," said Aiy-
pius. "For if there were any danger that you might con-
ceal anything, 1 think that I would find it difficult to catch
him out who, as everyone of my friends knows, taught me
all those things; and that all the more so as in giving a
true account you would be showing yourself interested not
in victory, but in accomplishing your real purpose."
Doctrine of the New Academy
11. "I shall," I replied, "play fair, since you have a
right to expect it. The Academics, then, insisted on two
points: on the one hand, that man could not have knowl-
edge of the things which concerned philosophy, and as for
other things, Carneades said that he did not bother about
them; and on the other, that, nevertheless, man could be
wise and that the whole office of the wise man, as you
yourself also, Licentius, explained in our former dis-
cussion, was to seek for truth. It follows from this that the
wise man will not assent to anything whatever. 37 For if
he assented to something uncertain, he must needs fail
into error; and for the wise man this is a crime. 38 And not
only did they maintain that all things were not certain,
but they reinforced their assertion with many arguments.
"As for their opinion that truth could not be perceived,
they apparently took this from the famous definition of
the Stoic Zeno/ 9 who said that that truth could be per-
ceived which was so impressed on the mind from the
source of its origin, that it could not originate from whence
it did not originate. 40 This can be stated more briefly and
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 77
plainly in the following way: truth can be perceived by
those signs which cannot be present in what is not true.
The Academics set about demonstrating with all possible
force that such a thing could not possibly be found. Thus,
in support of their position great stress was placed upon
the want of accord among philosophers/ 1 the errors of the
senses, 42 dreams and delirium, 43 sophisms and fallacies. 44
And since the same Zeno had also insisted that nothing
could be more disgraceful than to indulge in mere opin-
ions, they concluded very cleverly that if nothing could be
perceived and mere opinion was disgraceful, the man who
was wise would never assent to anything.
12. "They were in consequence of this attacked on all
sides. It seemed to follow that he who would not assent to
anything, would not do anything. 45 The Academics
seemed to picture the wise man, who, they maintained, as-
sented to nothing, as being always asleep and neglectful
of his obligations. Accordingly, they put forward their
idea of the 'probable,' 46 which they also termed c what-is-
like-truth, 3 and maintained that the wise man did on no
account default in his obligations, since he had something
to serve him as a norm of conduct. Truth, however, lies
hidden because it is obscured or confused either by some
sort of darkness inherent in nature, or by the misleading
resemblance that things have to each other. 47 At the same
time, they said, the very refraining from, or, so to speak,
suspending, assent, was a wholly significant action in the
wise man. 48
"I think that I have, as you wished, briefly explained the
whole matter, and have not departed, Alypius, from your
injunction; that is, I acted, as it is said, in good faith. For
78 ST. AUGUSTINE
if I have not described something just as it is, or omitted
something, I have done nothing such deliberately. My
own conscience satisfies me that I have presented this in
good faith. Obviously, a man who is in error requires in-
struction, but he who is deceitful must be recognized as
one to be guarded against. The first demands a good
teacher, the second, a disciple who is on his guard."
13. Then Alypius said: "I thank you for having satis-
fied Licentius and relieved me of a burden. For you had
no more reason to fear that you should omit something in
order to test me for why else should you do so? than I
that I should have to expose you on some point or other.
Now, If it is not too wearisome a task for you, I wish you
would explain not to supply anything that is wanting in
your treatment of our inquiry, but to supply information
that the inquirer lacks: what is the difference between the
New Academy and the Old?"
"I confess/ 3 I said, "it is quite wearisome. You will do
me a favour if you will let me keep to myself for a moment,
while you distinguish between those names and expound
the position of the New Academy, I must admit, of course,
that the point you have raised is of the greatest relevance."
"I had almost believed," he replied, "that you wanted to
keep me also from lunch, if I did not already suspect that
you were more upset by Licentius, and if his demand had
not required of us that whatever complication there is in
this question should be explained to him before lunch."
He was about to complete his remarks, when my
mother 40 for we had meanwhile arrived at the house-
began to hustle us to our lunch so that we had no oppor-
tunity for discussion.
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 79
The Position of the New Academy
14. Afterwards, when we had eaten as much as was
necessary to satisfy our hunger, we returned to the mea-
dow, and Alypius began: "I shall do as you wish, nor
should I care to refuse. If I omit nothing in my account,
the compliment will be to your teaching and to my
memory as well But if, perhaps, I make a mistake in any
point, you will make good the deficiency, so that in future
I may not fear these commissions.
"It is my opinion that the breaking off of the New Acad-
emy did not come about so much from opposition to the
old teaching as from opposition to the Stoics. 50 Nor indeed
ought it to be called a breaking away. The new question
raised by Zeno had to be discussed and resolved. For the
point about non-perception, although it had not provoked
any conflicts then, nevertheless can reasonably be thought
to have been present to the minds of the Old Academy.
One can, moreover, easily prove this by the authority of
Socrates himself, and Plato and others of the old per-
suasion. These men believed that they could shield them-
selves from error so long as they were careful about
committing themselves to an assent. 51 They did not, how-
ever, introduce into their schools any special discussion
on this topic, nor indeed did they clearly precise the ques-
tion as to whether or no truth could be perceived. But
Zeno brought this forward as something new and unex-
plored, contending that nothing could be perceived unless
80 ST. AUGUSTINE
it was so manifestly true that it could be distinguished
from what was not true through a dissimilarity in indi-
cations, and that the wise man must not admit an
opinion. 52 Arcesilas, 53 when he heard this, denied that any
such truth was available to man, and insisted that the life
of the wise man must not be exposed to the hazard of such
opinion either. Accordingly, he went so far as to conclude
that one should not assent to anything.
15. "This was the position, then, namely, that the
Academy had been developed rather than suffered attack.
But a disciple of Philo, 54 Antiochus, 55 a man whom some
adjudged to be more interested in reputation than truth,
arose and brought into conflict the teaching of both Acad-
emies. He declared that the New Academics had at-
tempted to introduce something that was new and quite
removed from the doctrine of the old school. He appealed
to the testimony of the physicists of old, and of other great
philosophers to prove his point, and attacked the New
Academics themselves on the ground that, although they
admitted that they did not know truth itself, they yet
maintained that they were following Vhat-was-like-
truth. 3 He collected many arguments which I do not pro-
pose to expound to you now. One point, however, he
maintained above all others: the wise man could perceive
"This is my view of the conflict between the New and
the Old Academy. If that conflict is not as I have described
it, I would request you to give an exhaustive account of it
to Licentius for both of us. But if it is as I have tried to
say, proceed with the discussion which you have under-
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 81
Probability and Verisimilitude
16. Then I said: "Why, Licentius, have you been silent
so long during the course of these unexpectedly lengthy
remarks? Now do you know what your Academics are?* 3
He smiled modestly, and was a little upset by my chal-
lenge. "I regret/' he replied, "having maintained so
strongly against Trygetius that happiness depended upon
the search for truth. Indeed, your question embarrasses
me so that I am scarcely anything but wretched. At any
rate, if you have any feeling in you, my case must seem
pitiable to you. But why should I be foolish enough to tor-
ment myself? Or why should I be daunted when I am sup-
ported by a cause so excellent? No, indeed, I shall not give
in to anything but the truth."
"Do you approve, then," I asked, "of the New Aca-
"Most certainly," he replied.
"Therefore, they seem to you to maintain the truth?"
He was about to give his assent when, warned by a
chuckle from Alypius, he hesitated for a second, and then
said: "Repeat that little question."
I said, "Do the Academics seem to you to maintain the
Again he was silent for a long time. "I do not know if
it is the truth," he replied, "but, at any rate, it is probable,
and I cannot see anything else that I can follow."
82 ST. AUGUSTINE
"You know," I asked, "that they themselves describe the
probable also as *what~is-like-tnith 5 ?"
"Yes," he replied.
"Therefore/ 5 I said, "the teaching of the Academics is
C what-is4ike-truth. 3 "
"Yes," he said.
"I beg you," said I, "give me your best attention. If a
man who never saw your father himself, yet, on seeing
your brother, asserted that he was like your father, would
you not think that he was mentally affected or talking at
random? 5 '
He was silent for a long time. Then he replied: "No,
I do not think that is absurd."
17. When I began to reply, he said: "Wait a moment,
please.' 5 Then, with a smile, he said, "Tell me, are you al-
ready certain that you will win the argument?"
"Suppose that I am," I replied. "You ought not, all the
same, on that account abandon your cause, especially
since this discussion between us has been undertaken to
train you and to incite you to cultivate your mind."
"But have I," he returned, "either read the writings of
the Academics, 56 or have I been instructed in as varied
knowledge as you, who come thus prepared against me?"
I replied: "Neither had those who first defended your
case read the Academics. And if training and a storehouse
of knowledge is wanting to you, your capacity should not
be so deplorably weak that, without my making any at-
tack on you, you yield to a few remarks and questions of
mine. To be sure, I am already beginning to fear that
Alypius may take your place sooner than I wish. I shall
not be proceeding so unconcernedly, if he is my ad-
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 83
"Well," said he, "I wish I were already beaten in the
argument. Then I could for once listen to you arguing
and 5 what is more, I could see you at it. This is a sight
which I would enjoy more than anything else* Obviously,
since you have decided to gather up your words rather
than waste them, to catch them as they come from your
lips with the pen and not allow them, as they say, to fall
to the ground, one will also be able to read what you have
to say. But somehow or other, when the principals them-
selves who engage in the discussion are present to one's
eyes, a good debate, though the practical value of it may
not be enhanced, nevertheless, certainly gives greater
18. "We thank you," I replied. "But these sudden de-
lights of yours have led you to make the rash statement
that nothing could give you more pleasure than to see us
as we discussed. But if you saw your father, than whom
certainly no one will drink of philosophy with greater
passion after so long a thirst, discussing and talking of
those things with us, while I would think myself happier
than ever before, what, I ask you, should you rightly think
Here Licentius cried a little. When he was able to speak,
he raised his hands and looked up to heaven: "And when,
O God/' said he, "shall I see this? But no, there is nothing
we need despair of obtaining from Thee."
Almost all of us were distracted from the discussion and
began to cry. 57 I struggled with myself and with difficulty
regained my composure. "Come," I said, "gather your
forces again. I had told you long before to collect them
84 ST. AUGUSTINE
wherever you could, since you were to be the defender of
the Academics. I cannot suppose that already,
Even before the trumpet sounds, fear grips your limbs, 58
or that you wish to be taken prisoner so soon in order to
look on at another's fighting."
At this point Trygetius, when he had decided that we
were sufficiently composed again, said: "You, who are so
dear to God, Licentius, may well hope that He will grant
your prayer before you offer it! Have faith! Indeed, you
who cannot find an answer to an argument, and yet say
that you wish to be vanquished, seem to me to be of little
We laughed. Then Licentius said: "Let you speak,
then, you who find happiness not in discovering the truth,
and certainly still less in looking for it."
19. We all felt more cheerful because of the good
humour of the young men, and to Licentius I said: "Pay
attention to my question, and, if you can, return with re-
newed confidence and vigour to where we left off."
"I am ready," he said, "as far as I can be. Now, then, if
the man who saw my brother had known from hearsay
that my brother was like my father, can he be taken to be
mentally affected or talking at random for believing the
"Could not he," said I, "at least be called foolish?"
"Not necessarily," he replied, "unless he insists that he
knows this to be so* Obviously, if he follows as probable
that which is frequently reported, he cannot be convicted
of any rashness whatsoever,"
Then I said: "Let us consider the matter precisely for a
moment, and as it were, place it before our eyes. Suppose
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 85
that this someone of whom we are talking, were here with
us. Along comes your brother. The man asks: 'Whose
son is this? 3 The answer is given: "The son of a certain
Romanianus. 3 The other remarks: 'How like his father he
is! How right was the report I heard!" You or someone else
interjects: 'My good man, so you know Romanianus? 5
c No, 3 he says. C A11 the same, he seems to me to be like him. 5
Would anyone be able to keep from laughing?"
"Of course not, 33 he replied.
"Therefore/ 5 1 said, "you see what follows."
"I have seen it this long time, 35 he replied. "But I would
like to hear the conclusion which we are coming to, from
your own lips. You know that you should start to feed him
whom you have taken prisoner!"
"Well, I shall draw the conclusion/ 3 I said. "It is ob-
vious that in the same way are your Academics to be
laughed at, since they say that in practical matters they
follow *what-is-like-truth/ although actually they do not
know what truth itself is."
20. Then Trygetius remarked: "The precaution taken
by the Academics seems to me to be very different from
the drivelling of the fellow you talk of. For they arrive by
reason at 'what-is-Mke-truth, 3 while that fool of yours was
guided by report, which is the worst possible authority. 33
I rejoined: "As though he were not a still greater fool
if he said: True, I have no knowledge whatever of his
father, nor do I know by report how like his father lie is.
Just the same, he seems to me to be like him 3 ! 3 '
86 ST. AUGUSTINE
"Yes, certainly/ 5 he replied, "he would be a greater
fool. But what is the point? 35
"In the same class with him belong those who say: 'We
do not, indeed, know truth, but that which we see is like
that which we do not know/ 55
" Trobable 5 is the term they use/' he said.
I asked: "Why do you insist on using that term? Do
you deny that they call it Vhat-is4ike-truth 5 ? 55
He retorted: "I deliberately used the term in order to
exclude the element of likeness/ For it seemed to me that
the idea of 'report' has wrongly obtruded itself upon the
question as you put it. The Academics do not trust even in
human eyes, to say nothing of the thousand as the poets
picture them fantastic eyes of report." 5 *
"But who am I that I should defend the Academics? Or
do you envy me my freedom from the discussion? Here is
Alypius. His coming will, I hope, set us free. You, we are
inclined to think, have been afraid of him all along and
not without reason/ 5
21. In the ensuing silence both fixed their eyes on Aly-
pius, who began: "Indeed, I would like, as best I could, to
give your side some little assistance. But the omen you
give frightens me. Unless, however, my hope deceives me,
it will be easy for me to banish this fear. You see, I am
encouraged at once by the knowledge that he who is now
attacking the Academics almost stole the part of Trygetius
when he was beaten, and now by your own avowal, it is
probable that Trygetius 5 side will win. The other thing I
fear more, namely, that I should incur the charge of negli-
gence in deserting my own function, and of forwardness
in assuming that of another. You remember, I take it, that
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 87
I was appointed arbiter of the discussion."
"That is one thing," said Trygetius, "but this is
another. We beg you to permit yourself for once to be just
an ordinary individual in the discussion/'
"I must not refuse/* he said, "lest in seeking to avoid
both forwardness and negligence I fall into the snare of
pridewhich is the most heinous of all vices in seeking
to retain longer than you allow an honour which you have
22. "Well, then, my accuser of the Academics, be good
enough to tell us your mission, that is to say, whom are
you defending in attacking them? I am actually afraid
that in refuting the Academics you may wish to show that
you are an Academic yourself! 35
I replied: "You know well, I think, that there are two
types of accusers. Even if Cicero in his modesty said that
he was an accuser of Verres only in so far as he was a de-
fender of the Sicilians, 60 it does not necessarily follow that
he who accuses someone is defending someone else. 55
Alypius rejoined: "Have you at least a good basis on
which your opinion is founded?"
"It is easy/' I replied, "to answer that question, es-
pecially for me to whom it does not come suddenly. I have
gone through the whole thing for myself and I have
pondered it much and for a long time. Accordingly, Aly-
pius, listen to what, as I think, you already know well. I
do not want this discussion to be undertaken merely for
the sake of discussing. Let us have done with these pre-
88 ST. AUGUSTINE
iiminary exercises in which we joined with these young
people 61 and in which philosophy, so to say, was ready
to jest with us. Let us, therefore, put away from us chil-
dren's tales! We are concerned with life/ 2 with morality,
with the spirit that spirit which hopes to overcome the
antagonism of every kind of illusion, and, possessing it-
self of truth, to return in triumph over the passions to that
region, so to speak, from which it sprung, and, having
thus received temperance as a bride, to reign, safer in its
return to heaven. 63 You understand what I say. Again,
let us discard all those trifling things!
Weapons must be forged for a doughty warrior! 64
"But there is nothing that I have ever desired less than
that among such as have lived and conversed together a
great deal, anything should occur from which, as it were,
fresh conflicts might arise. I have decided, however, to
commit to writing now those points which we have often
gone over together both to help the memory, which is an
untrustworthy guardian of what one has thought out, and
so as to induce those young men to apply themselves to
these problems and attempt to approach and deal with
them for themselves.
23- "Accordingly, how can it be that you do not know
that up to now I have arrived at no certainty, but have
been impeded in the search by the arguments and disputes
of the Academics? Somehow or other they persuaded me
of the probability to keep to their term for the moment
that man cannot find truth. Consequently, I became lazy
and very slothful, nor did I have the courage to seek for
what clever and learned men m were not permitted to find.
Unless, therefore, I shall persuade myself to the same ex-
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 89
tent that truth can be found, as the Academics persuade
themselves that it cannot s I shall not dare to seek for It,
nor have I anything to defend. Wherefore, please with-
draw your question.
"Let us rather discuss among ourselves as closely as
possible, the question whether or no truth can be found.
For my part, I think I can even now advance many argu-
ments against the Academic position. Between them and
me there is this one difference: they think it probable that
truth cannot be found, and I, that it can. If they are but
pretending, 66 then ignorance of truth is peculiar to me
only, but it is more likely to be common to us both."
24. "Now," said Alypius, "I can proceed confidently.
I see that you will be not so much an opponent as a helper.
Accordingly, so as to avoid wandering in the argument,
let us, I ask you, first make sure that in dealing with this
question in which I appear to have succeeded to your de-
feated adversaries, we do not go off into mere verbal con-
troversy. By your own suggestion and on the authority
oF Tullius we have often insisted that that was a bad
thing. 67 Unless I am mistaken, then, Licentius first said
that he approved of the Academic 'probable/ and then
you asked him if he was aware that the 'probable' was
also called by them Vhat-is-like-truth. 3 He stated clearly
that it was so. And I know well, since it is from you that
I myself learned them, that you know the doctrines of the
Academics. Therefore, since you have them well impressed
90 ST. AUGUSTINE
upon your mind, as I said, I cannot understand why you
should cavil about words."
I replied: "This is not, I assure you, a dispute about
words, but, rather, a serious dispute about serious issues.
I do not think that the Academics were the kind of men
who did not know how to give a thing its proper name. On
the contrary, they seem to me to have chosen these terms
both at once to conceal from the unintelligent and reveal
to the more alert/ 8 their real opinion. Why I think this
and how I understand it, I shall explain when I have dis-
cussed first the points which, as men think, they, as the
apparent enemies of human knowledge, advance.
"I am, then, very glad that we have got so far in our de-
bate to-day, for now we are agreed about, and are aware
of, what is at issue between us. Certainly, the Academics
seem to me to have been quite serious and foreseeing. If
there is anything that we shall attack now, it will be those
who have said that the Academics opposed the finding of
truth. And do not think that I am afraid: I shall be quite
willing to arm myself against the Academics, too, if they
really stood by what we read in their books, 69 and did not
advance it merely so as to conceal their true opinion, lest
certain sacred truths should be betrayed rashly by them to
minds defiled, and, so to speak, profane. This I would do
to-day, but that the setting of the sun already forces us
to return to the house."
Thus far our discussion took us on that day.
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 91
25. Though the following day dawned no less pleasant
and peaceful, we could scarcely get away from domestic
preoccupations. The greater part of it had already passed,
especially in the writing of letters, when, with barely two
hours remaining, we went to the meadow. The weather
was really unusually fair and inviting, and we decided that
we should not allow even the little time that was left, to
be wasted. When, therefore, we had come to the tree
where we usually sat, and had settled down, I said: "I
would like you young men, since we are not to embark on
anything serious to-day, to rehearse for me how Alypius
yesterday answered the little question that upset you. 55
To this Licentius remarked: "It is so short that it takes
no effort to recall it; but as for its being an easy question,
that is for you to demonstrate. Indeed, as far as I can see,
once the matter at issue had been clarified, it did not allow
you to raise a dispute about words."
"Have you all," I said, "sufficiently appreciated the
point and force of this?"
"Yes, I think I have," said Licentius. "But please ex-
plain it a little. I have indeed often heard you say that it
is a disgrace for disputants to haggle about words, when
no difference about the subject matter remains; but this
is too fine a point that I should be asked to explain it."
26. "Listen then," I said, "to what is meant. The Aca-
92 ST. AUGUSTINE
demies call that the "probable 5 or *what-is-like-truth*
which can Induce us to act while we withhold our assent.
I say c while we withhold assent/ inasmuch as we do not
judge that what we do is true, or think that we know it,
but we do it all the same. As for example, if a man were to
ask us if, since last night was so bright and clear, today's
sun would rise with the same cheerful mien, I think we
would say that we did not know, but that we thought so.
*The things, then/ says the Academic, "that I have decided
to describe as "probable" or "what-is-like-trath," are all of
such kind. If you wish to call them by another name, I
make no objection. I am quite satisfied if you have grasped
well what I mean, that is to say, what things I have in
mind in using these terms: the wise man should not be
an artificer of words, but an inquirer into realities. 3 70
Do you now grasp fully how those silly toys, with which
I was trying to arouse your interest, have been dashed
from my hands?"
When both replied that they had understood, and kept
looking at me in anticipation of what I would reply to
them, I said: "What do you think? Was Cicero, whose
words 1 have just quoted, so poor a Latinist that he used
unsuitable terms for the things he had in mind?"
27. To this Trygetius replied: "Indeed, since the mat-
ter is obvious, we do not think that we should provoke any
dispute about words. So, think rather of what you will
reply to Alypius who has relieved us, but whom now you
want to attack again. 55
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 93
"A moment, please,** Licentius said in turn, "something
is dawning upon me. I am beginning to see that that
argument of yours should not so easily have been disposed
of." He was silent for a while, lost in thought. Then he
said: "Nothing, I submit, seems more absurd than that a
man who does not know what truth is, should say that he
follows e what-is-like-trath. s Nor does that comparison of
yours disconcert me. For if I were asked if, judging by the
evening sky, there will be no rain on the morrow, I am
right in replying that it does not seem likely. I do in fact
know some truth, I know, for instance, that this tree can-
not at a moment's notice turn into silver; and many other
facts like this I can truly say that I know without being
over-confident, and I note that like these are those things
which I call *what-is-like-truth.' But you,Carneades,or any
other Greek pest, to say nothing of our own brood for
why should I hesitate to desert to the side of him whose
captive I am by right of victory? you, I say s whence do
you get this Vhat-is-like-truth, 5 since you say that you
know no truth whatever? 'But I could not get another
name for it,' says Carneades. Why, then, do we bother to
discuss anything with one who does not even know how to
28. "I am not a man," said Alypius, "who fears de-
serters. Much less so the great Carneades. I do not know
whether it is through boyish or youthful levity that you
judged it propei to assail him with insults rather than
with some weapon. But in support of his teaching, whose
point of departure was always the probable, this will be
quite sufficient to silence you for the present, the fact,
namely, that we are so far removed from the discovery of
94 ST. AUGUSTINE
truth that you yourself can be instanced as a telling argu-
ment against yourself, 71 By one little question you were
so shaken in your position that you were at a complete
loss as to where you should stand. But let us postpone this
and your knowledge, which you have just avowed was
communicated to you regarding this tree, to another time,
For, although you have now chosen another side, neverthe-
less I shall take pains to explain to you what I said shortly
before. We had not got as far, I think, as the question as
to whether or no truth could be found; I was of the
opinion, however, that this at least should be decided
right at the threshold of my defence a point where I had
seen you prostrate and exhausted namely, whether one
should not seek *what-is-like-truth/ or the 'probable/ or
whatever else It can be called, which the Academics hold
to be enough. It is of no interest to me if you seem to your-
self to be even now an excellent discoverer of truth. After-
wards, If you are thankful for my coming to your rescue
now, you may, perhaps, teach me what you know."
What was the Real Teaching of the New Academy?
29. Here I intervened because Licentius, his face
flushed with shame, was cowed by the onset of Alypius:
"Alypius, you have preferred to speak in every way but
the way we ought to when we engage In debate with these
boys who do not know how to speak."
Alypius replied: "Since I as well as everybody else have
known for a long time, and now by your own profession
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 95
you give evidence enough of the same, namely, that you
are an expert in speaking, 1 wish you would first explain
the use of this Investigation of yours. It is either irrele-
vant, as I think, and it would be much more irrelevant to
reply to it; or, if you decide that it is to the point, in which
case it is too difficult for me to explain* then heed my
earnest plea: do not weary of being my teacher,"
"You remember/ 5 I said, "that I promised yesterday
to treat of those words later. And now yonder sun re-
minds me to put away again in their boxes the toys which
I set before the boys especially since I take them out for
the sake of ornament rather than to sell them. But before
darkness, ever the advocate of the Academics 5 prevents
writing, I would like it to be fully agreed between us
to-day as to what question we shall attack the first thing
in the morning. Accordingly, tell me, please, do you think
that the Academics had a definite teaching about truth
and were opposed to imparting it indiscriminately to
minds ignorant or uncieansed, or that tHeir thoughts were
really at one with the tenor of their disputations?"
30. He replied: "I shall not rashly assert what their
mind on the matter was. In so far as one can gather this
from their books, you know better what words they are
accustomed to use for the expression of their opinion. If
you ask me what I think myself, I reply that I think that
truth has not yet been discovered. I add, too a point on
which you were questioning me in connection with the
Academics that I think that it cannot be found, not only
because of my ingrained conviction which you have ob-
served in me practically from the start, but also on the
authority of great and outstanding philosophers, to whose
96 ST. AUGUSTINE
opinions we are somehow Induced to submit, whether
through our own mental impotence, or because of the
keenness of their minds, which, we are forced to believe,
cannot possibly be surpassed."
"This is exactly what I wanted/ 5 I said. "I was afraid
lest if we should see eye to eye, our debate would be a
stunted affair; for there would be nobody who would
compel us to treat the matter from the other side so that
it might be thrashed out by us as well as we can. 72 There-
fore, in case this had happened, I was prepared to ask you
to defend the Academics on the lines that, in your opinion,
they not only argued that truth could not be discovered,
but also that they were convinced of this.
The point, therefore, at issue between us is whether or
no their arguments make it probable that nothing can be
perceived and that one should not assent to anything. If
you demonstrate that they do this, I shall gladly yield.
But if I can demonstrate that it is much more probable
both that the wise man can arrive at truth, and that one
should not always withhold one's assent, you will have
no excuse, I think, for refusing to come over to my side."
He and all that were present agreed to this, and as the
shadows of evening were already falling about us, we
returned to the house.
WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE
Mali's Need of Truth
When on the day following that on which we had
finished the discussion contained in the second book, we
had taken our places in the baths for the day was too dis-
agreeable to go to the meadow -I began as follows: "I take
it that you all have noted well the points which we have
decided to take in the problem that we are discussing. But
before I take up my own role, which is to explain those
points 9 1 would like you to show your good will and listen
to a few remarks not irrelevant to our subject remarks
which have to do with our hopes, our life, and our princi-
ples. It is our business, neither trivial nor unnecessary, but
rather, in my opinion, most necessary and of the greatest
importance, to seek with all our strength for truth. Alypius
and myself are in agreement about this. For all philoso-
phers believed that the wise man, as they conceived him,
had found truth; but the Academics declared that their
wise man must try with his utmost efforts to find it, and
that in fact he does so conscientiously, except that, since
truth is either hidden in obscurity or because of con-
fusion does not stand out clearly, he follows as a guide in
action that which seems to him to be probable and 'like-
"The same conclusion was reached in your own recent
98 ST. AUGUSTINE
discussion. Thus one of you contended that happiness for
man lay In the finding of truth, and the other was satisfied
that merely seeking for truth constituted happiness.
Accordingly, none of us has any doubt that we should at-
tend to the seeking of truth above everything else. Let us
consider, then, how, for example, we may judge ourselves
to have spent yesterday. Of course, you were free to give
your time to your studies. For instance, you, Trygetius,
spent the time pleasantly reading the poems of Virgil, and
Licentius applied himself to poetic composition, to which
he is so much given that it was especially for his sake that
I decided to bring up this topic. It is high time that philos-
ophy should take and hold a greater part in his mind
than poetry or any other subject.
/$ Man Independent of Fortune?
2. "But, tell me, did you not feel sorry for us? We had
gone to bed on the previous evening with the intention of
dealing with practically nothing else but our postponed
discussion when we should arise. The urgency, however,
of matters that had to be taken care of about the place was
such, that we were completely taken up by them and we
had barely two hours at the close of day in which to give
ourselves time to breathe. Hence, it has always been my
opinion that, whilst the wise man indeed needs nothing,
he needs much help from fortune to become wise. 1 But
perhaps Alypius holds a different view,"
Alypius replied: "I do not know as yet what you think
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 99
to be the province of fortune. If you believe that fortune's
help Is necessary for the contemning of fortune herself,
then I am with you in that belief. But if you believe that
it is her function to provide only those bodily necessities
which cannot be had without her favour, then I do not
agree. For either the man who does not yet possess wis-
dom, but is desirous of it, can procure the things we deem
necessary for life, even if fortune be adverse and unwilling,
or we must admit that she dominates the whole life of the
wise man since the wise man himself, too, cannot dis-
pense with the need of bodily necessities."
3. "You say, then," I replied, "that he who is seeking
wisdom needs fortune, but you deny that this is so for the
"To say the same thing over again has its advantages,"
he said, "so I in turn ask you if you think that fortune
helps towards the contemning of herself. If you think so,
then I do say that he who seeks wisdom is in great need of
assistance from fortune."
"I do think so," I answered. "It is by her help that he
becomes such as can contemn her. And this is not absurd;
when we are infants we need a mother's breasts, and by
them it is brought about that later on we can live and be
strong without them."
"It is clear to me," he said, "that if there is no dis-
agreement in our minds in conceiving them, our opinions
agree; though a person might think that he should argue
the point that it is not breasts or fortune, but some other
thing that helps us to contemn fortune or breasts."
"It is a simple matter," I said, "to give another com-
parison. For instance, a man cannot cross the Aegean,
100 ST. AUGUSTINE
If he wants only to get to the other side, without a
ship or some other means of transport, or, so that I might
not seem to avoid mention of the method evolved by Dae-
dalus 2 himself, some device constructed for this purpose,
or some preternatural power. When he has made the
crossing, he is ready to throw away and contemn what-
ever brought him across. 3 So, too, whoever wishes to arrive
at the safe and tranquil land and haven of wisdom, seems
to me to have fortune's help in his purpose. I shall give
but one example of what I mean: he cannot be wise, if he
be blind and deaf; and blindness and deafness are in the
power of fortune. Once he has achieved this purpose,
though he should be considered to be still in need of cer-
tain things pertaining to the health of his body, it is
evident, nevertheless, that such things are not necessary
so that he be wise, but only that he should continue to
exist among men/'
"Nay, more," said Alypius, "if he be blind and deaf, he
will, in my opinion, rightly contemn the acquisition of
wisdom and that life itself, for which wisdom is sought/ 5
4. "Nevertheless," I said, "since life itself during our
days on earth is in the power of fortune, and only a living
person can become wise, must we not admit that we need
her favour in order to reach wisdom?"
"But," he replied, "since wisdom is necessary to those
only who are alive, and if life be taken away no need for
wisdom remains, I do not fear fortune as far as the con-
tinuation of life is concerned. For it is because I live that
I desire wisdom, and it is not because I desire wisdom that
I wish to live. If fortune, then, takes my life away, she
takes away the reason for my seeking wisdom. There is
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 10!
no reason, therefore,, why I should either desire the f avow,
or fear the interference of fortune in becoming wise. But
perhaps you have other considerations to offer."
I asked: "You do not think, then, that he who is seeking
for wisdom can be prevented by fortune from becoming
wise, if one suppose that she does not deprive him of his
"No, I do not/* he replied.
The Difference between the Wise Man
and the Philosopher
5. "I would like you," I said, " to tell me briefly what
you think to be the difference between the wise man and
"In my opinion," he said, "the wise man differs in no
way from the philosopher except that the wise man in a
certain way possesses 4 those things which can only be
longed for however eagerly by the philosopher."
"Now, then," I asked, "what are these things? For my
part, I see no difference except that one knows wisdom,
and the other wants to know."
"If," he said, "you give us a simple definition of knowl-
edge, your point already becomes more clear."
"No matter how I define it," I replied, "all are agreed
that there cannot be knowledge of what is not true."
"In my remark," he said, "I purposed to limit that
question for you, in order to prevent an unconsidered con-
cession of mine from allowing your oratory to gallop unre-
strained over the plains of this cardinal question." 5
102 ST. AUGUSTINE
1 replied: "To be sure, you have left me no galloping
space at all! Indeed, If I mistake not, we have arrived at
that for which I have been striving all the time the end.
For if, as you stated so acutely and truly, there is no dif-
ference between the philosopher and the wise man except
that the former loves, the latter possesses, wisdom for
which reason you did not hesitate to use the term proper
here, 'possession*; and since no one can possess wisdom in
his mind, if he has not learned anything; and since no one
can learn anything, if he does not know anything; and
since no one can know what is not true: therefore, the wise
man knows truth, for you yourself have just admitted that
he has wisdom, that is to say, its 'possession/ in his mind."
"I may/' he said, "seem to be impertinent, but I do wish
to deny that I admitted that the wise man has the 'posses-
sion 3 of the power of inquiring into divine and human
things. I do not see why you should think that it is not
the "possession 5 of discovered probabilities that he has/ 5
"Do you concede to me/' I asked, "that no one knows
what is not true?"
"Certainly/ 5 he replied.
"Assert, if you can/* I said, "that the wise man does not
know wisdom/ 9
"But why/ 5 said he, "do you in this way restrict the
whole question? Could he not believe that he has grasped
"Give me your hand/* I said, "If you recall, this is the
point which I said yesterday that I would prove; and now
I am happy that it was not I who expressed this conclusion,
but that you offered it to me spontaneously on your own.
For I said that between the Academics and myself there
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 103
was this difference, that while they thought it probable
that truth could not be perceived, I believed that, though
I myself had not yet found it, it could be found by the wise
man. Ton now, when pressed by my question as to
whether or no the wise man did not know wisdom, reply:
"He thinks that he knows." 9S
"Well," he asked, "what follows from that?"
"This," I replied, "that if he thinks that he knows wis-
dom, he does not think that the wise man cannot know
anything. Or, if wisdom is nothing, then say so.'*
6. "I should indeed believe/' he replied, "that we had
arrived at our final objective, but that suddenly, as we
joined lands, I realized that we are very far apart and
separated by a long distance. For, obviously, the only
point at Issue between us was, whether or no the wise man
could arrive at the perception of truth. You asserted that
he could. I denied it. But I do not think that I have now
conceded to you anything except that the wise man can
believe that he has achieved the wisdom of probabilities.
That wisdom I understood to be concerned with the inves-
tigation of things human and divine. We are, I take it,
agreed on that/*
"You will not/' I said, "evolve a method of escape by
involving the issue! For the moment, it would seem to me,
you are arguing merely to try your skill. You know well
that these young men can scarcely as yet follow subtle and
acute reasoning. You abuse, then, the ignorance of your
jury. It is a case of your saying as much as you like simply
because no one will protest. Now, a few moments ago,
when I was questioning you as to whether or no the wise
man knew wisdom, you said that he believed that he knew.
104 ST. AUGUSTINE
But he who believes that the wise man knows wisdom,
certainly cannot believe that the wise man knows nothing.
Such a proposition is impossible, unless a man dares to say
that wisdom is nothing. From this it follows that in this
your view is identical with mine. For my view that the
wise man knows something, is, I believe, also yours, since
you believe that the wise man believes that he knows
He replied: "I think that you wish to exercise your
powers just as much as I do. I am surprised at that, for
you have no need of any practice in this matter at all. I
may, of course, still be blind in seeing a difference between
*believing-one-knows* and "knowing/ and between the
wisdom bound up with investigation, and truth itself. I
do not see how these opinions expressed by each of us can
be squared with one another."
As we were being called to lunch, I said: "I am not dis-
pleased that you should be so obstinate. Either both of us
do not know what we are talking about, and we must,
therefore, take steps to avoid such a disgrace; or this is
true of only one of us, and to leave him so and neglect him,
is equally disgraceful. We shall, however, have to meet
again In the afternoon; for, just when I thought that we
had finished, you began to indulge in fisticuffs with me."
They all laughed at this and we departed.
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 105
The Wise Man Knows Truth
7. When we ret umed, we found Licentius, whose thirst
for Helicon * could never be quenched, eagerly trying to
think out verses. For he had quietly arisen without having
had anything to drink, in the middle of lunch, even though
this was over almost as quickly as it had begun. I remarked
to him: "I certainly hope that some day you will realize
your heart's desire and master poetry. Not that I take such
pleasure in the art; but I see that you are so obsessed by
it that you cannot escape from this infatuation except
through tiring of it, and this is a common experience when
one has reached perfection. And another thing, since you
have a good voice, I would prefer that you would ply our
ears with your verses than that you should sing, like poor
little birds that we see in cages, from those Greek tragedies
words which you do not understand. But I suggest that
you go, if you wish, and drink something and then return
to our school, provided the Hortensius and philosophy still
mean something to you. To her you have already dedi-
cated the tender first fruits of your mind in your recent
discussion a discussion which inflamed you even more
than does poetry for the knowledge of great and truly
fruitful things. But while I endeavour to bring you back to
the circle of those studies by which the mind is developed,
I fear lest it become a labyrinth to you, and I almost repent
of having held you back from your first impulse."
Licentius blushed and went away to drink. He was very
106 ST. AUGUSTINE
thirsty. Moreover, he could thus avoid me, who seemed
likely to have more and sharper things to say to him.
8. When he had come back, I began as follows, while
all paid close attention: "Alypius, can it be that we dis-
agree on a matter which to me seems really very evident?"
"It is not surprising," he said, "if what you say is mani-
fest to you should be obscure to me. After all, many things
evident enough in themselves can be more evident to some
than to others; so, too, some things obscure in themselves
can be still more obscure to some people. For, believe me,
that if this matter is evident to you, there is some one else
to whom it is even more evident, and still another person
to whom it is more obscure than it is to me. But I beg you
to make what is evident still more evident, so that you may
cease to regard me as a diehard in argument."
"Please, listen closely," I said, "and do not bother for
the moment to reply to my question. Knowing you and
myself well, I feel that with a little attention my point will
become clear and one of us will quickly convince the other.
Now, then, did you not say or, perhaps, I did not hear
rightly that the wise man thought that he knew
He said that this was so.
"Let us," I said, "forget about the wise man for the
moment. Are you yourself wise or are you not?"
"I am anything but that," he replied.
"But," said I, "do give me your own personal opinion
about the Academic wise man. Do you think that he
He replied: "Is thinking that one knows the same as, or
AcAIiNST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 107
different from, knowing? I am afraid lest confusion on this
point might afford cover to either of us."
9. "This/ 3 1 said, "has become what they call a Tuscan
argument: for this is the name they gave to an argument
when instead of answering a difficulty, a man proposes
another. It was this that our poet let us win the attention
of Licentius for a moment in his Eclogues judged fairly
to be rustic and downright countryish: when one asks the
other, where the heavens are no more than three ells
broad, the other replies:
In what lands do flowers grow engraved with the names of kings? 7
Please, Alypius, do not think that we can allow ourselves
that merely because we are on the farm! At least, let these
little baths 8 serve you as a reminder of the decorum that
is expected in places of learning. Kindly answer my ques-
tion: Do you think that the Academic wise man knows
"Not to lose ourselves," he replied, "parrying words
with wordsI think that he thinks that he knows
"Therefore," I said, "you think that he does not know
wisdom? I am not asking you what you think the wise
man thinks, but if you think that the wise man knows
wisdom. You can, I take it, say either yes or no, here and
"I do wish," he returned, "that the matter were either as
easy for me as it is for you, or as difficult for you as it is for
me; and that you were not so insistent, and put such great
store in these points. For, when you asked me what I
thought about the Academic wise man, I replied that in
my opinion it seemed to him that he knew wisdom: I did
108 ST. AUGUSTINE
not wish to assent rashly that I knew, or, what would be
just as rash, say that he knew. 35
"I shall be greatly obliged/' I said, "If you will be good
enough, first, to answer the question I put to you, and not
those that you yourself put to yourself. Secondly, you
may disregard for the moment what satisfaction I expect
to receive from this: I know that you are as interested in
it as in your own expectations. Obviously, if I deceive
myself by this line of questioning, I shall promptly come
over to your side and we shall finish the dispute. Finally,
banish the anxiety which I note is somehow gripping you,
and pay close attention, so that you will have no trouble
in understanding what I want you to reply.
"Now, you said that you did not give your assent or
denial but this is just what you should do with my ques-
tionfor the reason that you did not wish to state rashly
that you knew what you did not know. As if I were to ask
you what you know, and not what you think! And now I
ask the same question more plainly if, indeed, I can ask
it any more plainly: is it, or is it not, your opinion that
the wise man knows wisdom?"
"If it is possible,* 5 he replied, "to find a wise man such
as reason conceives of, I can believe that he knows
"Reason, therefore," I said, "indicated to you that the
wise man is such that he knows wisdom. So far you are
right. You could not have properly held any other opinion."
10. "And now I ask you if the wise man can be found.
If lie can, then he can also know wisdom and our dis-
cussion is finished. But if you say that he cannot be found,
then the question will be, not if the wise man knows any-
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 109
thing, but rather If any one can be a wise man. Answering
this in the affirmative, we must take leave of the Aca-
demics, and go over this point with you as far as we can,
and with great care and attention. For the Academics
maintained, or rather opined, at one and the same time
that the wise man could exist, but that, nevertheless, man
could not attain to knowledge. Therefore, they actually
claimed that the wise man knows nothing. But you believe
that he knows wisdom, which certainly is not identical
with knowing nothing. For we are agreed, as are all the
ancients and even the Academics themselves, that no one
can know what is not true. Accordingly, there remains
now that you either maintain that wisdom is nothing, or
admit that the wise man as described by the Academics is
such as is unknown to reason, and then, dropping that
question, agree to investigate if man can possess such wis-
dom as is conceived by reason. For there is no other
wisdom which we should, or can, rightly call by that
The Question of Assent
11. "Even though I should concede," he said, "what
you are so anxiously striving for, namely, that the wise
man knows wisdom, and that between us we have dis-
covered something which the wise man can know, never-
theless, I do not at all think that the whole case of the
Academics has been undermined. Indeed, I notice that
they can fall back on a stronghold that is by no means
weak, and that their line of retreat has not been cut off.
They can still withhold assent. In fact, the very point in
110 ST. AUGUSTINE
which you think they have been vanquished, helps their
cause. For they will say that it is so true that nothing can
be known and that assent must be withheld from every-
ting, that even this their principle of not being able to
know anything, which practically from the very beginning
until you came along, they had maintained as probable, is
now wrested from them by your argument. 9 Your argu-
ment may be in fact invincible or may seem so to me in my
stupidity, but as before, so now, it cannot dislodge them,
when they can still with confidence assert that even now
assent must be withheld from everything. It is possible,
they will say, that perhaps some day they themselves or
some one else will discover some argument which can be
urged with point and probability against this second prin-
ciple of theirs also. They would have us notice that their
behaviour is illustrated and mirrored, so to speak, by that
of Proteus who, it is said, could be caught only by means
which invariably did not result in his capture. His pur-
suers were never sure that what they had was still he,
unless some divinity informed them. 10 May that divinity be
present to us, and may he deign to show us that truth for
which we strive so hardl I, too, shall then confess, even
if the Academics do not agree though I think they will-
that they have been overcome."
12. "Goodl" I said, "that was all I wanted. For, look,
I beg you, at all the great gains I have made! First, we
can say that the Academics are so far vanquished that they
have now no defence left except the impossible. Indeed,
who could in any way understand or believe that a man
who is beaten, by the very fact that he has been beaten,
boasts that he has won? And so, if we have any further
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 111
dispute with them, It is not on the score of their assertion
that nothing can be known, but on the score of their main-
taining that one must not assent to anything.
"Consequently, we are now in agreement. For both
they and I believe that the wise man knows wisdom. But
they advise, all the same, that assent should not be given
to this. They say that they believe only, but do not at all
know. As if I should profess that I know! I say that I also
believe this. If they do not know wisdom, then they, and
I with them, are stupid. But I think that we should
approve of something, namely, truth. I ask them if they
deny this, that is to say, if they declare that one must not
assent to truth. They will never say this; but they will
maintain that truth cannot be found. Consequently, in
this I am to a great extent at one with them in so far as
both of us do not object, and, therefore, necessarily agree,
to the proposition that one must assent to truth.
" "But who will indicate truth for us?' they ask. On
that point I shall not trouble to dispute with them. I am
satisfied since they consider it no longer probable that the
wise man knows nothing. Otherwise, they would be forced
to maintain a most absurd proposition, that either wisdom
is nothing, or the wise man does not know wisdom.
Truth Revealed only by a Divinity
13. "You, Alypius, have told us who it is that can point
out truth and I must take pains to disagree with you as
little as possible. You remarked that only some divinity "
1 12 ST. AUGUSTINE
could reveal truth to man. Your words were brief but full
of piety. There has been nothing in our discussion which
has given me more delight, nothing more profound, noth-
ing more probable* and, provided, so I trust, that divinity
be present to us, nothing more true. With what profound
understanding and sensitiveness to what is best in philos-
ophy did you direct our attention to Proteus! Proteus, of
whom you all know, is introduced as a symbol of truth.
You will see, young men, from this that the poets are not
entirely despised by philosophy. Proteus, as I say, plays
in poetry the role of truth which no one can hold if,
deceived by false representations, he slackens or lets loose
the bonds of understanding. It is these representations
which, because of our association with corporeal things,
do their best to fool and deceive us through the senses
which we use for the necessities of this life, even when we
have already grasped truth and hold it, so to speak, within
"Here, then, is the third blessing which has come upon
me, and I cannot find words to express how highly I value
it. I find my most intimate friend agreeing with me not
only on probability as a factor in human life, but also on
religion itself a point which is the clearest sign of a true
friend; for friendship has been rightly and with just rever-
ence defined as 'agreement on things human and divine
combined with goodwill and love/ 12
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THHEE 1 13
Augustine's Refutation of the New Academy
14. "Nevertheless, lest the arguments of the Academics
should seem somewhat to cloud the issue, or we ourselves
seem to some to dispute arrogantly the authority of highly
learned men, among whom Tuliius especially must always
have weight with us, I shall with your leave first put for-
ward a few considerations against those who would believe
that the arguments referred to stand in the way of truth.
Then I shall show why, as it seems to me, the Academics
concealed their real doctrine. Now, then, Alypius, al-
though I see that you are entirely on my side, nevertheless
take a brief for them for a few moments, and answer my
"Since," he replied, "you have, as they say, got off on
the right foot to-day, I shall not do anything to hinder
your complete victory. I shall with the greater confidence
attempt to defend their side, seeing that the task is one
imposed by yourself. All the same, I would prefer you, if
you find it convenient, to achieve the result you aim at
rather by means of an uninterrupted discussion than by
this questioning, lest, although already your prisoner* I
should be tormented, as being in fact an unyielding
enemy, by the rack of all your detailed arguments. Such
cruelty is not at all in accordance with your humanity!"
15. And so I, when I noticed that the others, too,
wanted this, began, as it were, anew. "I shall do as you
wish," I said, "although I had hoped that after my toil in
114 ST. AUGUSTINE
the rhetoric school, 13 I should find some rest in this light
armour that is, I should conduct these enquiries by ques-
tion and answer rather than by expositionnevertheless,
since we are so few and it will not be necessary for me to
raise my voice beyond what is good for my health, and
since I have also wished that the pen should, so to speak,
guide and control my discourse also on account of my
health, lest I become more excited mentally than is good
for my body listen, then, to my opinion, given to you, as
you wish, in continuous exposition. 14
In the first place, however, let us examine a point about
which the enthusiastic supporters of the Academics are
very boastful There is in the books which Cicero wrote in
support of them a certain passage, that to me seems sea-
soned with rare wit, while some think it a passage of great
power and conviction. It would be hard to imagine that
any man should not be impressed by what is there
Everybody of every other school that claims to be wise, gives the
second place to the wise man of the Academy. It is inevitable, of
course, that each claims the first place for himself. From this one
can conclude with probability that the Academic rightly judges
himself as holding the first place, since in the judgment of all
the others he holds the second.
16. Suppose, for example, that there is a Stoic wise man present.
It was against the Stoics especially that the Academics felt called
upon to pit their wits. If Zeno or Chrysippus 16 be asked who is
the wise man, he will reply that it is the man whom he himself
has described. But Epicurus 1T or some other adversary will deny
this, and maintain that his own representative rather, one who is
as skilled as a bird-catcher in catching pleasure, is the wise man. The
fight is on! Zeno shouts, and the whole Porch is in uproar: man was
born for nothing else but virtue; she draws souls to herself merely by
her grandeur, without resorting to the bait of any external ad-
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 1 15
vantage and, as It were, of a pandering reward; the pleasure
vaunted by Epicurus is a thing received in common by beasts and
by them alone; to pitch out man and the wise man! Into such
company Is abominable.
But over against this, Epicurus, like another Bacchus, calling
from his Gardens a horde to aid him, who, though drunk, yet look
for someone whom in their Bacchic frenzy, they can tear to pieces
with their long nails and savage fangs, and exploiting the popular
approval of pleasure and an easy-going and quiet life, maintains
passionately that without pleasure nobody could appear to be happy.
Should an Academic chance upon their quarrel, he will listen to
each side as it attempts to win him over to itself. But if he joins
one side or the other, he will be shouted down by the side he is
leaving in the lurch, as crazy, ignorant, and reckless. Accordingly,
when he has given an attentive ear now to this side, now to that,
and is asked his opinion, he will say that he is in doubt. Now ask
the Stoic, which is the betterEpicurus who declares that the Stoic
is talking nonsense, or the Academic who gives the verdict that he
must give further consideration to a matter of such moment and
no one doubts but that the Academic will be preferred. And next
turn to Epicurus and ask him which he prefers Zeno by whom he
is called a beast, or Arcesilas who tells him: "Perhaps what you
say is true, but I shall have to look into the matter more closely."
Is it not clear that Epicurus will decide that the whole Porch is
crazy, and that in comparison with them, the Academics are
unassuming and judicious people?
"Quite similarly, regarding practically all the other
philosophical sects Cicero treats his readers to what we
might call a delightful piece of theatre. He shows, as it
were, that there is none of those sects which, having of
necessity put itself in the first place, does not proclaim
that it allots the second place to the one which it sees is
not in opposition to, but merely undecided about, its own
position. On that point I shall not oppose them in any
way or deprive them of any glory.
116 ST. AUGUSTINE
17. "Some people, to be sure, may think that In this
passage Cicero was not poking fun, but rather that because
he was appalled by the levity of these Greeklings, he pur-
posed to dig up and collect some of their banalities and
rantings. But if I wished to join issue with such pretence,
could I not easily show how much less an evil it is to have
no knowledge than to be incapable of receiving any? Thus
it happens that if this petty boaster of the Academics
offers himself as a pupil to the various sects, and none of
them succeeds in convincing him of what it thinks it
knows, they will then all come together with a will and
make a mockery of him. For now each of them will judge
that every other adversary has not indeed learnt anything,
but that the Academic is incapable of learning anything.
After that he will be driven from one school after the
other not with the rod, which would cause him a little
more shame than hurt, but by the clubs and cudgels of
the men of the mantle. 18 For there will be no trouble in
calling in the help of the Cynics, 19 as one would call in
Hercules, to overcome the common scourge.
"And if I, who may be more easily allowed to do so,
seeing that though I practise philosophy I am not yet wise,
wish to compete with the Academics for the contemptible
glory that is theirs, how can they halt me? Suppose that
an Academic and myself together came upon the conflict
of philosophers described before. Let all be present. Let
them expound their opinions briefly in the time allowed.
Ask Carneades his opinion. He will reply that he is in
118 ST. AUGUSTINE
18. "However, let us now retire from this courthouse
with its wranglings and betake ourselves somewhere where
no crowd will disturb us. If only it could be the school 20
itself of Plato, which is said to have received its name from
the fact that it was cut off from the public! But let us no
longer talk about glory, which is a thing of little and
trifling account, but rather, so far as we can, of life itself
and what hope there is of happiness.
"The Academics deny that anything can be known.
How have you established this, you men of learning and
scholarship? *Zeno's definition/ they say, 'taught us that/
But why I beg you? If it is true, then a man who knows
merely it itself, knows some truth. If it is not true, then
it should not have upset men of such calibre. But let us
examine what Zeno says: according to him that object of
sense can be comprehended and perceived, which mani-
fests itself by signs that cannot belong to what is not true.
Was it this that moved you, my dear Platonist, to use
every endeavour to draw those interested away from the
hope of learning so that, aided as they were by a shameful
lethargy of mind, they might give up the whole business
19. "But why should it not have influenced him pro-
foundly, if nothing such can be found, and unless it be
such, cannot be perceived? If this be so, it would have
been better to say that man could not possess wisdom than
that the wise man should not know why he lives, should
not know how he lives, should not know if he lives, and
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 119
finally than which nothing more perverse^ silly and crazy
could be saidthat he should be wise and at the same time
be ignorant of wisdom. Which is the more shocking state-
ment to bear, that man cannot be wise, or that the wise
man does not know wisdom? There can be no use in dis-
cussing the point further., if the matter itself so explained
does not offer the necessary basis for a decision. But the
chance is that if the former statement were made, men
would be driven away entirely from philosophy. In view
of this, are they to be attracted to her by the august and
alluring name of wisdom that later, having wasted their
lives and learnt nothing, they may only heap upon you
their greatest curses? For forsaking the pleasures of the
body which they might have had, they followed you only
into tortures of the mind!
20. "But let us see who it is that most frightens men
away from philosophy. Is it he who will say: 'Listen,
friend, by philosophy we mean not wisdom itself, but
rather the study of wisdom. If you devote yourself to her,
you will never indeed be wise while you live here on
earth for wisdom is with God and man cannot possess
her but when you will have sufficiently exercised and
purified yourself in this kind of study, your spirit will
enjoy wisdom unencumbered after this life, that is, when
you will have ceased to be a man'? Or is it he who will say:
"Come, mortal men, to philosophy. Here there is much to
be gained. After all, what can be dearer to man than
wisdom? Come, then, so that you may become wise and
not know wisdom'? %' he says, 'shall not put it like that/
That is to say, you will deceive; because that exactly rep-
resents your position. So it happens that if you do put it
like that, they will shun you like a madman; and if you
120 ST. AUGUSTINE
should win them over in some other way, you would make
them mad. But let us take it that men would be equally dis-
couraged from philosophy fay either view, if, my friend,
Zeno's definition did necessitate some conclusion damag-
ing to philosophy, which should a man be told something
that would grieve him or something that would lead him
to make a laughingstock of you?
21. "Nevertheless, let us discuss as best we can
granted that we are not wise Zeno's definition. That
sense object, 3 he says, 'can be comprehended, which so
manifests itself that it cannot manifest itself as not true. 21
It is clear that nothing else can be perceived. 5 % too/ says
Arcesilas, *see this, and it is precisely on this account
that I teach that nothing is perceived. For nothing so
described can be found. 5
"That may be true for you, Arcesilas, and for others
who are not wise; but why could it not be found by the
wise man? I think, however, that you could give no satis-
faction to oneeven though he be not wise who bids
you employ your remarkable genius in exploding Zeno's
definition, and showing that it, too, can be not true. If
you cannot do that, then you have something which you
can perceive. But if in fact you do explode it, there
is nothing to hinder you from perception. For my part
I do not see how it can be exploded and I judge it to be
entirely true. Consequently, once I know this much, even
though I be not wise, I know something. But suppose it
yields to your cleverness: I shall employ the safest dis-
junction. It must be either true or not true. If it is true,
then I am in sound possession of it. If it is not true, then
something can be perceived, even though it manifest itself
AGAINST ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 121
by signs which are shared In common with what is not
true. But that is impossible/ he says. Weil, then, Zeno*s
definition is entirely true, and anyone who has agreed
with him even in this one point only is not guilty of error.
Surely, that definition is worthy of the greatest praise and
confidence which, while it indicated in opposition to
those who wanted to advance many arguments against the
possibility of perception what kind of thing it was that
could be perceived, showed itself at the same time to be
that land of thing. And so it is both a definition and ex-
ample of things capable of being comprehended. ^Whether
or not it be itself true, 5 says Arcesilas, C I do not know.
But since it is probable, I follow it, and in doing so show
that there is nothing such as can, according to it, be com-
prehended/ You show perhaps that there is nothing such
except itself, and you see, I believe, what that means. In
any case, even if we were uncertain of it, too, knowledge
still does not desert us. For we do know that the definition
itself is either true or not true; that is, we know something.
"All the same, Arcesilas will never make me appear un-
grateful. It is my considered judgment that that defini-
tion is in fact true. For either things which are not true
can also be perceived which the Academics are very much
afraid of and which, in fact, is absurd or, granted that
they cannot be perceived, neither can those things be
perceived which are very like things which are not true.
From which it follows that that definition of Zeno's is true.
But now let us turn to what remains to be considered.
122 ST. AUGUSTINE
The Two Principles of the Academy
22. "Although, unless I am mistaken, what I have said
Is enough to bring about victory, perhaps I should say
more in order to drive my victory home. There are two
points put forward by the Academics against which, in
so far as we can, we have decided to advance: 'Nothing
can be perceived, 5 and, 'one must not assent to anything.'
We shall come later on to the question of assent. For the
moment we shall say a few more things about perception.
"Do you people insist that nothing whatever can be
comprehended? At this point Carneades woke upfor
none of those men slept as lightly as he and surveyed
the evidence of things. As one speaks to oneself, so he,
I believe, went on somewhat like this: 'Now, Carneades,
are you really going to claim that you do not know
whether you are a man or an insect? Will you allow
Chrysippus to gloat over you? Let us say that the things
that we do not know are those about which philosophers
Inquire. As to other things, they do not concern us. If
I then stumble in plain, broad daylight, I shall be able
to appeal to those obscurities that are impenetrable to the
unskilled, and penetrable only to a certain few gifted with
eyes that are divine. They, even though they see me in
difficulties and falling, cannot betray me to those who are
blind, especially when they are also arrogant and too
proud to learn/
"You are getting on nicely, O Greek subtlety, well
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 123
equipped and prepared as you are! But you overlook the
fact that that principle is at once the formulation of a
philosopher, and is placed firmly at the entrance to
philosophy. If you attempt to undermine it, the axe with
double edge will rebound on to your shins. For if once you
shake it, not only can something be perceived, but that,
too, can be perceived which is very like that which is
not true. Your only chance is to have the courage to do
away with it altogether. But it is your lurking-place from
which you jump out and pounce fiercely upon the unwary
who wish to pass on their way. Some Hercules will
strangle you, half-human as you are, in your cave/ 2 and
will crush you with the weight of that principle. For he
will show you that there is something in philosophy which
cannot be demonstrated by you to be uncertain on the
plea that it is like to what is not true.
"I was, it is true, in a hurry to go on to other con-
siderations. Whoever presses me to do so, casts a great
slur on you yourself, Cameades, for he supposes that you
are as good as dead and can be routed by me on any and
every front. But if he does not suppose any such thing,
then he is pitiless. For then he leads me on to abandon
my fortifications everywhere and to come down to do
battle with you on the level plain. Just as I had begun
to come down against you, terrified by your mere name,
I drew back and cast from my lofty position some kind of
a shaft. Whether it reached you, or what it did, let them
judge who preside over our conflict. But what a fool am
I to have such fear? If I recollect aright, you are dead,
and Alypius does not choose to fight as he might, in
defence of your grave; and God will readily help me
against your ghost.
124 ST. AUGUSTINE
23. "You say that In philosophy nothing can be per-
ceived, and so that you may give your contention wide
publicity, you seize upon the disputes and disagreements
of philosophers and think with them to furnish arms to
yourself against the philosophers themselves. For how,
you argue, shall we be able to settle the dispute between
Democritus 28 and his predecessors in physics as to
whether there Is one or innumerable worlds, 24 when
Democritus himself and his heir, Epicurus, could not
agree? When this latter voluptuary allows the atoms, as
it were his little handmaids, those little bodies which he
joyfully embraces in the dark, to deviate from their course
and turn aside 25 wherever they like into the domains of
others, he is quarrelling and he has thus dissipated all
"But this is no concern of mine. If it is part of wisdom
to know something of these things, then all this will cer-
tainly not escape the attention of the wise man. But if
wisdom consists in something different, then it is that
that the wise man knows and the other is despised by him.
Even I, however, who am still far from being anyway
near being a wise man, 26 know something at any rate in
Physics. 27 I am certain, for instance, that there is one
world or not one. If there is not one world, then the
number of worlds is finite or infinite. Carneades may say,
if he likes, that this opinion is like one that is not true.
Likewise, I know that this world of ours is ordered as it
is, either by the intrinsic nature of corporeal matter, or
by some providence; that it either always was and always
will be a or began to be and will never cease, or never
exist forever. I know countless things about physics after
began in time but will end, or began to exist and will not
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: THREE 125
this manner. These disjunctions are true, 28 no
refute them by pointing to any likeness in to what
is not true.
" c But elect for one member of the disjunction/ bids
the Academic, No. I shall not. You are me not
to assert what I do know, and assert what 1 do not know,
"But your assertion hangs in the airf It is that it
should hang there than that it should be dashed to the
ground. You see, it is adequate for our purpose; that is
to say, as an assertion it can be pronounced either true
or not true. I assert that this is something that I know. Let
you, who cannot deny that such matter pertains to philos-
ophy, and who assert that none of these things can be
known, demonstrate to me that I do not know these things,
Assert that these disjunctions are either not true or have
something in common with what is not true, so that, as
a consequence, they are incapable of being distinguished
from what is not true.
Something Can be Perceived
24. " c But, 5 he asks, 'how do you know that the world
you speak of exists at all? The senses may deceive. 5 No
matter how you argued, you were never able to repudiate
the value of the senses to the extent that you could con-
vince us that nothing appears to us to be. Indeed, you
have never in any way ventured to try to do so. But you
have done your very best to convince us that the reality
could be different from the appearance. By the term
'world/ then, I mean all this, whatever kind of thing it
126 ST. AUGUSTINE
be, which surrounds and nourishes us and which presents
itself to my eyes and seems to me to hold earth and sky
or quasi-earth and quasi-sky. If you say that non-reality
presents itself to me, I shall still be free from error. It is
he who rashly judges that which presents itself to him
to be actual reality that falls into error. But while you do
say that what is not true can present itself to sentient
beings, you do not say that non-reality so presents itself.
Indeed, all ground for disputation wherein you love to
reign supreme is entirely removed if riot only we know
nothing, but if no appearance presents itself to us. If,
however, you deny that that which presents itself to me
is the world, you are raising a question merely about a
word; for I have stated that I do call that appearance the
25. "But you will ask me: If you are asleep, 29 does
the world which you now see exist?' I have already said
that whatever presents itself to me in that way, I call
'world/ But if you wish that only to be called 'world'
which presents itself to those who are awake or, even
better, those who are sane, then maintain also, if you can,
that those who are asleep or insane are not insane and
asleep in the worldl Accordingly, I make this statement:
all that mass and contrivance in which we are, whether
we be sleeping, or insane, or awake, or sane, is either one
or not one. Explain how that judgment can be not true.
If I am asleep, possibly I have made no statement at all.
Or, if in my sleep the words have, as happens, escaped
my mouth, possibly I have not spoken them here, sitting
as I am, and with this audience. But the proposition itself
that I have mentioned cannot be not true.
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 127
"And I am not saying I have perceived on
condition of my being awake* For you could say that in
my sleep, too, this could have presented itself to me, and,
consequently, can be very like what is not true. But it is
manifest that no matter in what condition I am, if there
is one world and six worlds, there are in ail seven worlds,
and I unhesitatingly assert that I know this. Now 5 then,
convince me that this combination or the above-mentioned
disjunctions can be not true by reason of sleep s madness,
or the unreliability of the senses; and if being awakened
from my slumber I recall them, I shall allow that I am
vanquished. I feel sure that it is now sufficiently clear
what appearances, although not true, can because of
sleep or insanity present themselves as true: they are those
which pertain to bodily senses. For that three times three
makes nine,, and that this is the squaring of rational num-
bers, must be true even though the human race were
snoring! 30 All the same, I notice that much can be said
in defence even of the senses themselvesthings which we
do not find to be questioned by the Academics. The senses
are not, I take it, blamed for the fact that insane people
have illusions, or that we see in our dreams things that
are not true. If the senses give reports that are true to
those who are awake and sane, then they will not be
Involved in what the mind of one who is asleep or insane,
26. "There remains to ask if, when the senses report,
they report what is true. Now, then, if an Epicurean says:
S I have no complaint to make about the senses. It is
unjust to demand from them more than that of which
they are capable. When the eyes see anything^ they see
128 < ST. AUGUSTINE
what Is true 9 : Is, then, what the eyes see of an oar in
water 9 true? 31 Certainly, It is true. A cause has inter-
vened so that it should present itself so. If when an oar
was dipped under water it presented itself as straight, then
in that case I would convict my eyes of giving a report
that was not true. For they would not see what, given the
existing circumstances, should have been seen. What need
is there of developing the theme? The same thing can be
said of towers that appear to move, of the changing
colours on the feathers of birds, and of countless other
" But, ? says someone, ( I am deceived, if I give my
assent. 5 Do not assent more than that you know that it
appears so to you. 32 There is then no deception. I do not
see how the Academic can refute him who says: I know
that this presents itself to me as white; I know that this
delights my ear; I know that this has a sweet smell for
me; I know that this has a pleasant taste for me; I know
that this feels cold to me. *TeIl me, rather, if the leaves
of the wild olive tree, of which the goat is so passionately
fond, are per se bitter?* You rascal! The goat himself is
more reasonable! I do not know how cattle find them.
Anyway, I find them bitter. Does that satisfy you? 'But
there is perhaps among men one to whom they are % not
bitter.' You are trying to make a nuisance of yourself.
Have I said that all men found them bitter? I said that
I found them bitter now, and I do not even assert that they
will always be so for me. Could it not happen that at dif-
ferent times and for different reasons a thing could taste
in one's mouth now sweet, now bitter? This I do assert
that when a man tastes something, he can swear in all
good faith that he knows that to his palate a given thing
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: THREE 129
is sweet or the contrary. No Greek sophistry can steal
such knowledge from him. Who would be so Impertinent
as to say to me as I savour with delight the taste of some-
thing: 'Perhaps there is nothing to taste; you are only
dreaming 5 ? Do I stop my savouring? No! I reply that
even though I were dreaming, it would still delight me.
Accordingly, no likeness to what is not true can prove
that that which I said I knew was wrong. Moreover, an
Epicurean or the Cyrenaics 3S may perhaps say many other
things in defence of the senses, and I am not aware that
the Academics have said anything to refute them. But
what is that to me? If they want to, and if they can, let
them refute these things. I shall even help them.
"Certainly, their arguments against sense perception are
not valid against all philosophers. There are some philos-
ophers, for example, who maintain that whatever the
spirit receives by way of bodily sense can generate opinion
indeed, but not knowledge. 84 They insist that the latter
is found only in the intelligence 35 and, far removed from
the senses, abides in the mind. Perhaps the wise man
whom we seek is to be found in their midst. But we shall
talk about this at another time. Now let us turn to the
points that remain. In view of what has already been said,
we shall, if I mistake not, be able to deal with them in a
130 ST. AUGUSTINE
27. C What: help or hindrance can bodily sense be In
the consideration of Ethics? Those who put man's true
and greatest good In pleasure, are not prevented by the
dove's neck, or the cry that Is doubtful, or the weight that
Is heavy for a man but light for a camel, or a thousand
other such things, from saying that they know that they
find pleasure in that In which they find pleasure, and are
displeased by that by which they are displeased and I
do not see how this can be refuted. Can it be that these
things influence him who places the ultimate good In
** 'Which of these two opinions do you yourself choose?"
If you ask me my opinion, I think that in the mind is to
be found man's supreme good. 86 Now, however, we are
talking about knowledge. Go, then, and question the wise
man, who must know wisdom. But In the meantime I,
who am such a dullard and ignoramus, am able to know
the ultimate good of man, wherein is happiness: either
there Is none, or it is in the spirit, or In the body, or In
both. Prove, if you can, that I do not know this. Your
celebrated arguments can do nothing. And if you cannot
do this for you will not be able to find anything not
true to which it bears likeness shall I hesitate to conclude
that my opinion that the wise man knows whatever In
philosophy is true is correct, since I myself already know
In philosophy many things that are true?
28. " 'But perhaps the wise man is afraid lest he should
choose the ultimate good while Toft is asleep/ No danger
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 131
at alii When he awakes^ he will, If It displeases him,, re-
pudiate, and if it pleases, retain it 31 Who can justly
blame him for having seen in a dream something that was
not true? Or perhaps you will be afraid lest while he is
asleep, if he assents to what is not true as true, he lose
his wisdom? Indeed, not even one who is asleep would
dare to dream that he should call a man wise If he were
awake, but deny that he is such if he were to sleep.
"The same things hold for the question of insanity.
Though I am anxious to hurry on to other things, I shall,
however, before I go, leave an irrefutable statement on
the point: either a man's wisdom Is lost because of his
madness. In which case he will no longer be the wise man,
who, you insist, does not know truth; or his knowledge
remains in his intellect, even though the rest of his mind
represents as if in a dream what it has received from
29. "There remain Dialectics. The wise man certainly
knows this well, and no one can know what is not true.
But if he does not know dialectics, then the knowledge
of dialectics does not pertain to wisdom, seeing that he
can be wise without it. Moreover, it is superfluous for
us to ask whether it be true or can be perceived.
"Some one may say to me at this point: Well, stupid,
you usually tell us whatever you know. Were you not able
to know anything about dialectics?' I know more about
it than about any other part of philosophy. In the first
place, it was dialectics that taught me that all the propo-
132 ST. AUGUSTINE
sitions which I have Indicated already were true. Again,
through dialectics I have come to know many other true
things. "Enumerate them for us, if you can/ If there are
four elements in the world, there are not five. If there is
one sun, there are not two. The same soul cannot both
die and be immortal A man cannot at the same time be
happy and not happy. Here and now there is not day
and night at the same time. We are now either awake or
asleep. What I seem to see is either body or not body.
These and many other things which would take too long
to mention, I have learned through dialectics to be true.
They are true in themselves no matter what state our
senses are in. Dialectics taught me that if, of any one of
the conditional statements which I have just mentioned,
the first part be assumed as true, it necessarily involves
the truth of the dependent part. 88 But the propositions
involving contrariety or disjunction which I enunciated,
are of this nature that when a part is taken away, whether
that be composed of one or more things, something is left
which by the removal is made certain. Dialectics also
taught me that when there is agreement about the matter
on account of which words are employed, then one should
not dispute about the words. If one does that through
inexperience, then one should be taught. If one does
it through malice, then one should be ignored. If one
is incapable of being taught, one should be advised to
do something else than waste one's time and labour in
trifling. If one does not take the advice, then one should
be abandoned to one's fate.
"Concerning specious and fallacious reasonings there
is a short principle of behaviour: if they come about as
a result of an unwise concession, then one should return
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: THREE 133
to what one has conceded. If truth falsehood are
found in conflict in one and the same statement, one
should conclude on what one understands, and not bother
about what cannot be explained. But if the *how* of
certain things escapes man entirely, then one should not
seek the knowledge of it.
"Ail these things and many others, which it is unnec-
essary to recall, dialectics have taught me, and certainly
I must not be ungrateful. The wise man either ignores all
these or, if a thorough knowledge of dialectics is the
knowledge itself of truth, he will know it so well that in
contempt, and without any weakening, he will destroy,
if only by ignoring it, that most fallacious sophism of the
Academics: *If it is true, it is not true; if it is not true,
it is true. 5
"I think this will be enough on the question of percep-
tion, especially since the whole case will be dealt with
again when I come to speak of the matter of assent.
Assent Can be Given
30. "And now, therefore, let us come to a point on
which Alypius still seems to be in doubt. First, let us see
what it is that makes you so careful and exacting. *If the
opinion of the Academics that the wise man knew nothing,
confirmed as it was 5 these are your own words *by so
many powerful arguments, is overthrown by your dis-
covery, whereby we are compelled to admit that it is
134 ST. AUGUSTINE
much more probable that the wise man knows wisdom,
then all the more should we refuse to assent. For by this
Itself Is it demonstrated that nothing can be advocated
even though the arguments used be ever so copious and
neatly pointedwhich cannot also, granted sufficient in-
genuity, be controverted with equal if not greater acute-
ness. And so it happens that the moment he is beaten,
the Academic has won/
"Would that he were beaten! No matter what Pelasgic 40
trick he uses, he will never succeed in leaving the field
victorious when he has been beaten by me. Of course, if
nothing else can be found to counter this argument, of
my own free motion I, too, allow that I am beaten. For
we are not interested in covering ourselves with glory but
in the finding of truth. I am content if by any means I
can cross over that barrier which confronts those who are
beginning philosophy. 41 It piles up darkness from some
hidden source, and warns that the whole of philosophy is
obscure, and does not allow one to hope that any light
will be found in it.
"For my part, I desire nothing more if It is now prob-
able that the wise man knows something. It seemed
probable that he should withhold his assent for no other
reason than that it was probable that nothing could be
perceived: when that reason has disappeared the wise
man perceives, as is conceded, at least wisdom herself
no reason any longer will remain, why the wise man
should not assent at least to wisdom. Obviously, it is
without any doubt even more monstrous that the wise
man should not assent to wisdom than that he should
not know her.
3L "But let us now, if you will and if that be possible,
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 135
picture to ourselves the spectacle of a fight, so to speak,
between the wise man and wisdom. Wisdom says (and
what else should she say?) that she is wisdom. He replies^
C I do not believe it* Who is it that says to wisdom, C I do
not believe that you are wisdom*? Who, but he with
whom she could talk and in whom she deigned to dwell-
that it to say, the wise man?
"Now go and fetch me to engage in a conflict with the
Academics. There! a new fight is on! The wise man and
wisdom are fighting! The wise man does not want to give
in to wisdom! I shall stand aside with you and await the
issue without anxiety; for who does not believe that
wisdom is invincible? All the same, let us strengthen our
position with some argument. In this conflict either the
wise man of the Academics conquers wisdom, in which
case he will be conquered by me for he will not be the
wise man; or he will be conquered by her, in which case
we shall teach that the wise man assents to wisdom. That
is to say, either the Academic wise man is not a wise man
at all, or the wise man will assent to somethingunless,
of course, he who was ashamed to say that the wise man
did not know wisdom, will not be ashamed to say that
the wise man does not assent to wisdom! But if it is now
probable that the wise man perceives at least wisdom her-
self, and there is no longer any reason why he should not
assent to that which he can perceive, I conclude that
what I wanted is probable, namely, that the wise man
will assent to wisdom.
"If you ask me, where he will find wisdom herself, I
shall reply: in his own very self. If you say that he does
not know what is in himself, you are returning once again
to the ridiculous proposition that the wise man does not
136 ST. AUGUSTINE
know wisdom. If you say that the wise man himself
cannot be found, then our dispute will be, not with the
Academics, but with you whoever you are that hold this,
and on another occasion. When these men engage in this
type of discussion^ they deal with it as certainly referring
to the case of the wise man. Cicero exclaims that as for
himself, he is a man of many opinions only, but that he
is discussing the case of the wise man. If you were un-
aware of this, young men, you must have read in the
Hortensius: fi lf, then, nothing is certain and the wise man
must not have opinion merely, the wise man will never
give assent. 5 42 From this it is clear that in those disputa-
tions of theirs against which we are contending, they are
dealing with the case of the wise man.
32. "I, therefore, think that the wise man has sure
possession of wisdom, that is to say, that the wise man has
perceived wisdom, and, consequently, that he does not
have opinions merely, when he assents to wisdom. For
he assents to that which if he did not perceive, he would
not be a wise man. The Academics, in fact, do not pro-
hibit anyone from assenting except to things which can-
not be perceived. Wisdom is not nothing. When, then,
the wise man knows wisdom, and assents to wisdom, he
does not know nothing, and does not assent to nothing.
"Do you wish for more? Shall we discuss briefly that
error which the Academics say can be entirely avoided if
assent does not draw the mind to anything at all? They
say that not only he errs who assents to what is not true,
but also he who assents to what is doubtful, even though
it be in fact true. For my part, I find nothing that is not
doubtful. But the wise man finds, as we were saying,
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: THREE 137
The "Probable" Insufficient and Dangerous
33. a But perhaps, you are now asking me to leave my
own ground. One should be careful about leaving a posi-
tion that is safe. We are dealing with men who are crafty
indeed. Nevertheless, I shall do as you bid me. But what
shall I say at this point? Indeed, what am I to say? Tell
me, what can I say? I shall have to use the old stock argu-
ment for which they have a stock reply. What else can
I do, seeing that you have compelled me to leave my
stronghold? Shall I appeal to the help of the learned, so
that if I am vanquished in their company, I shall perhaps
be less ashamed of being beaten? I shall with all my
strength, then, hurl at them a weapon which though now
rusty and musty with age, is, unless I am mistaken, all
the same a very effective one: 'He who does not assent
to anything, does nothing. 5 4S 'You ignoramusl What
about the "probable"? What about es what-ls-like-truth"?"
There you arel That is what you were looking for! Do
you hear the clash of Grecian shields? The shock of my
weapon, great as it was, has been withstood; and with
what force did we hurl it! And my supporters can offer
me nothing more potent and, as far as I can see, we have
inflicted no trace of a wound. I shall turn for help to the
homely weapons offered me by the farm. The heavier
ones only weigh me down and are of no help to me.
34. "When at my leisure here in the country I had
been thinking for a long time how it was that what they
138 ST. AUGUSTINE
call probable* or VhaMs-llke-truth 9 could prevent our
acts from error, at first it seemed to meas it had seemed
when I taught such things for money 44 that the matter
was nicely established and defended against attack. But
then as I examined the whole position more carefully,
I thought 1 saw one way by which error could come in
upon those who felt so secure. For I think that not only
does he err who follows the wrong track, but he also who
does not follow the right one.
*To illustrate, let us picture two men travelling to one
place. One of them has resolved not to believe anyone;
the other believes everyone. They come to a place where
the road forks. The credulous traveller addresses a shep-
herd or some rustic standing on the spot: 'Hello, my good
man. Tell me, please, which is the best way to that place?'
The reply: "If you take this road, you will not go wrong. 5
He says to his companion: 'What he says is correct. Let
us go this way/ The careful traveller laughs and makes
a fool of the other for having given assent so quickly.
While the other takes his way, he remains at the junction
of the roads. He is beginning to feel foolish himself be-
cause of his hesitation, when from the road not taken
by his companion there appears and draws near an ele-
gant and refined gentleman riding on horseback. The
traveller rejoices. He salutes the man as he approaches,
and tells him what is on his mind. He asks him the way.
Not only thathe tells him why he has delayed so that
by indicating his preference for him rather than for the
shepherd, he may make him the better disposed to him-
self. He, however, happens to be an arrant knave, one
of those fellows now commonly called samardoci* 5 The
scoundrel indulges in his usual practice, and that, too,
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 139
without charging a penny: c Go this way, 9 he says. C I have
just come from there. 5 So, he deceives him passes on
"But our traveller would not be deceived! "Indeed/ he
says, C I shall not assent to his information as true. But
since it is probable, and since to do nothing here is neither
proper nor useful, I shall go the way he indicates/ Mean-
while he who erred in assenting., too quicidy judging that
the shepherd's words were true, is already resting in the
place for which they set out. But he who has not erred,
since he follows the "probable/ is lost in some woods and
has not yet found anybody who knows the place where
he proposed to go!
"Really, I must tell you that when I was thinking over
these things, I could not keep from laughing. To think
that the doctrine of the Academics somehow brings it
about that he should err, who is on the right roadeven
though it be by chance but that he, who following prob-
ability is led over impassable mountains and does not
get where he wants to go, should not seem to errl To show,
quite justly, my disapproval of rash assent, I should say
that both erred, rather than that the second traveller did
not err. And so being more on my guard against the Aca-
demic doctrine, I began to consider the deeds of men and
their principles of behaviour. Then, indeed, I discovered
so many and such fundamental grounds against the Aca-
demics that I could no longer laugh, but was half angry
and half sorrowful that men so learned and intelligent
should have descended to such criminal and shameful
140 ST. AUGUSTINE
35. ss lt may be, indeed, that not everyone who errs,
commits sin. It is conceded, however, that everyone who
sins* either errs or does something worse. Well, then, if
some young man, hearing the Academics say: s lt is shame-
ful to err, and, consequently* we ought not to assent to
anything; when, however s a man does what seems prob-
able to him, he neither sins, nor errs. All he need remem-
ber is that he is not to assent to as true anything that
comes before his mind or senses 3 if, 1 say, he hears this,
what if the young man will lay siege to the chastity of
"I am asking you, Marcus Tullius -yes, you for your
opinion. We are dealing with the morals and lives of
young men, with whose formation and instruction all your
writings are concerned. What can you say but that it is
not probable to you, that the young man would do such
a thing? But to him, it is probable. For if we were to live
by what seemed probable to another, you ought not to
have governed in the state, since Epicurus thought that
one should not do such a thing. That young man will,
then, commit adultery with another's wife. If he is caught,
where will he find you to defend him? And even if he
does find you, what will you say? You will deny outright
that the thing happened. But if it is so clear that it is use-
less to deny it? Of course, you will try to convince your
opponents, as if you were in a scholastic establishment at
Cumae or Naples, that he had committed no sin, in fact,
had not even erred. He did not assent to the proposition
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: THKEE 141
that I should commit adultery* as true. then It
occurred to him as probable: he followed It he did the
deed. Or, perhaps he did not do it, but thinks he has done
it! The husband in his simplicity is causing general con-
fusion by his litigation and the clamour he raises about
his wife's chastity with whom he is perhaps now sleeping
without being aware of it!
"If the jury is able to follow this, they will either ignore
the Academics and mete out punishment on the crime as
having been actually committed, or, being convinced by
the same gentlemen a they will, acting according to what
is likely and probable, condemn the man, so that his
advocate will now be at a complete loss as to what course
to take. He will not have cause to get angry with any of
them, since all say that they have not fallen into an error.
For, while not assenting, they had done what seemed
probable. In these circumstances he will lay aside the role
of advocate and assume that of the consoling philospher.
He can thus readily persuade the young man, who has
already made such progress in the Academy, to think that
he is condemned only in a dream.
"But you think I am making fun! I am prepared to
swear by all that is holy 46 that I am completely at a loss
to know how that young man sinned, if one who does
what seems probable to him, does not sin. The only pos-
sible answer I find is that they may say that to err and to
sin are two entirely different things and that by their
principles they had in mind that we should not err, while
they considered sinning itself to be of no great con-
36. "I pass over homicide, parricide, sacrilege, and
142 ST. AUGUSTINE
every type of crime and evildoing that can be committed
or thought of all can be justified by a few words, and,
what is worse, before Judges that are wise: C I did not
assents and therefore I did not err. How could I not have
done what seemed probable? 5 If anyone thinks that such
arguments cannot be made to seem probably conclusive,
let him read the speech of Catiline 47 wherein he sought
to commend the parricide of one's country, in which is
embodied all crime.
"But what follows is merely ridiculous. The Academics
themselves say that they act only on the probable. Never-
theless, they make great efforts in searching for truth,
although they have already made up their minds that it
is probable that it cannot be found. What a marvellous
absurdityl But let us forget about it: it does not affect us
or endanger our lives or belongings. But the other point
is of the greatest importance: it is fraught with the most
serious consequences and must cause the greatest anxiety
to every upright man. For if this reasoning of the Aca-
demics is probable, then one may commit every crime not
only without being blamed for the sin, but also without
being blamed for an error since one thought that one
should act on the probable without assenting to anything
as true. Well, then, did the Academics not see this? In-
deed, they did see it for they were clever and careful. I
would never think of claiming that I came anyway near
Marcus Tullius in hard work, prudence, capacity, or learn-
ing. Yet, when he says that a man cannot know anything,
if this only were replied: *I know that it seems to me that
he can/ he would not be able to refute it.
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 143
Augustine's Theory of a Secret Doctrine
in the Academy
37. "Why, then, did such great men engage In per-
petual and stubborn wranglings in order that no one
might seem to possess the knowledge of truth? Listen
now a little more carefully, not to what I know, but to
what I think. 48 I kept this to the last so that I might be
able to explain if I could, the whole policy 4 of the Aca-
demics as it appears to me.
"Plato, the wisest and most learned man of his day, who
spoke in such fashion tliat whatever he said became im-
portant, ,--nd said such things that no matter how he
should say them they could not be of little importance, is
said to have learned after the death of his master Socrates,
whom he deeply loved, many things from the Pythago-
reans 50 also- Pythagoras, 51 for his own part, had not been
satisfied with Greek philosophy, which then hardly
existed, or, at any rate, was very obscure, and having been
moved by the disputations of a certain Pherecydes, of
Syros, 52 so as to believe that the spirit was immortal,
travelled abroad far and wide listening to the wisdom of
many wise men. Plato added to Socrates* ethics with its
wit and subtlety, the knowledge of things natural and
divine, which he with great care had acquired from those
whom I have mentioned, and imposing upon both, as a
co-ordinator and judge, dialectics, which is either itself
wisdom or that without which wisdom is absolutely im-
144 ST. AUGUSTINE
possible, is said to have put together a complete system
of philosophy, which we have not time to discuss now. It
is enough for my purpose that Plato thought that there
were two worlds, one intelligible, where truth itself re-
sided, and this sensible world which, it is clear, we
apprehend by sight and touch. The first was the true
world, while the latter was made like the true world and
after Its image. Truth, bright and serene, shines from the
former in the soul which knows herself; but only opinion,
and not knowledge, can be generated from the latter in the
souls of those who are not wise. Whatever was done in
this world according to the virtues that Plato termed
'civil 5 - virtues that are like the other real virtues which
are known by a few wise men only could not be called
anything but l!ke-the-trath. 5
38. "These and other similar things, I believe, were
preserved, as far as possible, by his successors and guarded
as 'mysteries.' 5S * For neither are such things easily under-
stood save only by those who, purifying themselves from
every vice, live a life at a level higher than is human; nor
would he be without grave fault who, knowing them,
would wish to teach them to men of any kind whatever.
I suspect that Zeno, the first of the Stoics, when he came
to the school left behind by Plato and then presided over
by Polemo, 5 * was regarded with suspicion, because he had
already received and believed certain other doctrines, and
did not seem to be one to whom the Platonic teachings,
hallowed as they were, could be presented and entrusted,
until he had forsaken those doctrines which he had
brought with him from elsewhere to the Platonic school.
"Polemo dies and Arcesilas succeeds him. Arcesilas,
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 145
while being a fellow student with Zeno, in-
structed by Polemo. Accordingly, when Zeno,
by a certain opinion of his own concerning the world^
and especially the soul (whose interests true philosophy is
always vigilant to defend), began to say that the soul
mortal, and that there is nothing beyond the present world
of the senses and nothing transpires in it except through.
corporeal agency he believed, for instance, that God
Himself was just fire Arcesilas, In my opinion, acted in
a most prudent and useful way, since the evil was spread-
ing widely, in concealing completely the doctrine of the
Academy and in burying it as gold to be found at some
time by posterity. And so, since the multitude is all too
liable to rush into false opinions, and people will most
readily, however harmfully, believe because of their fa-
miliarity with material things, that everything is cor-
poreal, Arcesilas very cleverly, and because he had the
interests of men at heart, began to disabuse those of their
error whom he found to have been wrongly taught, rather
than to teach men who, he decided, could not be taught
at all. From these circumstances arose all those teachings
which are attributed to the New Academy, teachings for
which their predecessors had no need.
39. "Now, if Zeno had but roused himself at length
and had seen that nothing could be comprehended except
that which answered his definition of what was compre-
hensible, and that nothing such could be found in things
corporeal, to which he attributed everything, this kind of
conflict, which, as it happened, unavoidably flared up,
would long ago have been extinguished. But Zeno, de-
ceived, as the Academics themselves believed and I can-
146 ST. AUGUSTINE
not disagree with them by the appearance of permanence
in things, held on to his contention, and his pernicious
doctrine of materialism persisted as well as it could until
the time of Chrysippus. This man began to strenghten
for he was well equipped to do so this doctrine so that it
could spread even wider. But on the side of the opponents
Cameades fought so much more keenly and prudently
than any of his predecessors, that I am amazed that that
teaching should afterwards have had any influence at all.
For Cameades first abandoned the quibbling sophistry,
which, he saw, had reflected very badly upon Arcesilas.
In this way he would not seem to want to contradict
everything, as it were, for the sake of showing off. Then
he set himself the task of destroying utterly the Stoics
themselves and Chrysippus.
40. "He was then hard pressed on all sides by the ob-
jection that if the wise man assented to nothing he would
do nothing. But he what a man to admire! and yet not
so admirable, as he was but drawing on the fountains of
Plato examined the types of actions which his opponents
judged commendable, and seeing that they were like cer-
tain actions of the true world, he called that which he
followed in this world as a rule of action, 'what-is-like-
tratk* That to which it was like, he knew well and pru-
dently concealed. He also decided to call *whatis-like-
truth* the 'probable/ A man, indeed, can rightly "approve 5
of a representation when he looks upon its exemplar. On
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 147
the other hand, how can the wise man approve of, or act
on* c what-is-like-truth/ if he does not know what truth
Itself is? The Academics therefore* knew what they were
doing in approving of things that were in fact not true,
but in which they noticed a commendable likeness to
truth. 55 But since it was not right or convenient to make
known all this, as it were, to the profane, they handed
down to their successors, and to such of their contem-
poraries as they could, some indication of their true
doctrine. Whenever an experienced dialectician investi-
gated the terms employed by them, they put him off by
reviling and deriding him. For these reasons, then,
Carneades is said to have been the founder and chief of
a third Academy.
41. "The conflict lasted down to the time of our own
Tullius s and, although it had evidently weakened, suc-
ceeded with its last gasp in filling Latin letters with an air
of unreality. For to my mind nothing could be more 'tin-
real than that he should have spoken so copiously and
with such great elegance for a point of view which he did
not hold. Nevertheless, these windy arguments proved the
complete undoing, in my opinion, of that Platonic straw
man, Antiochus. 56 (As for the Epicurean herds, these
placed their sunny sties in the souls of the voluptuous.) 5T
Antiochus was, of course, a pupil of Philo. 58 The latter
was, I believe, a prudent man who, because he thought
that the enemy was giving up the fight, had begun to open,
as it were, the gates, and to recall the Academy to the
authority and precepts of Plato. Metrodorus 59 had already
tried to do this. He is said to have been the first to admit
that the Academics did not sincerely teach that nothing
148 ST. AUGUSTINE
could be comprehended, but had found it necessary to
employ such a weapon against the Stoics.
"Antiochus, then, as I had begun to say, having been a
pupil of Philo the Academic and Mnesarchus 60 the Stoic,
had, in the guise of a helper and citizen, slipped into the
Old Academy, which was as it were bereft of defenders
and feeling safe in the belief that there was now no enemy,
and brought with him from the cinders of Stoicism a
brand of evil to desecrate the shrine of Plato. But Philo,
while he lived, had recourse once again to the former
weapons in resisting him, and after his death our Tullius
completely obliterated whatever remained of the work of
Antiochus. For he could not endure, while he had life,
that anything that he had loved should be weakened or
suffer any infection. Not long after this, 61 then, all ob-
stinacy and pertinacity had died down, and Plato's
doctrine, which in philosophy is the purest and most clear,
the clouds of error having been removed, shone forth
especially in Plotinus. This Platonic philospoher is re-
garded as being so like Plato, that one would think that
they had lived at the same time. The interval of time be-
tween them is, however, so great that one should rather
think that Plato had come to life again in Plotinus.
Plaionism and Christianity
42. "Today, therefore, we see practically no philoso-
phers unless they be either Cynics or Peripatetics 62 or
Platonists. The only reason we have the Cynics is that
such people find their pleasure in a certain 'freedom 3 and
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 149
even licence in life. But as to that which concerns erudi-
tion, doctrine, and morals, all of which help the soul
since there have been acute and clever men who taught in
their disputations that Aristotle and Plato in such wise
agree with one another m that those who are unskilled or
examine the matter cursorily think that they disagree-
after many generations and many coniicts there is
strained out at last, I should say, one system of really true
philosophy. For that philosophy is not of this world-
such a philosophy our sacred mysteries most justly detest
but of the other, intelligible, world. To which intelligible
world the most subtle reasoning would never recall souls
blinded by the manifold darkness of error and stained
deeply by the slime of the body, had not the most high
God, because of a certain compassion for the masses, bent
and submitted the authority of the divine intellect even
to the human body itself. By the precepts as well as deeds
of that intellect souls have been awakened, and are able,
without the strife of disputation, to return to themselves
and see once again their fatherland.
43. "This theory about the Academics I have some-
times, as far as I could, thought probable. If it is false, I
do not mind. It is enough for me that I no longer think
that truth cannot be found by man. But if anyone thinks
that the Academics were really of this opinion, let him
hear Cicero himself. He assures us that the Academics
had a practice of hiding their view, and of not revealing
it to anyone except to those who lived with them up to old
150 ST. AUGUSTINE
age, 64 What that doctrine was, God knows! 63 For my
part 3 I do believe that it was Plato's,
"But here in brief is my course of procedure. Whatever
be the position of human wisdom, I know that I as yet
have not attained it. Though I am in my thirty-third year,
I do not think that I should give up hope of reaching it
some day. I have renounced everything else that men
regard as good, and have proposed to dedicate myself to
the search for wisdom. The arguments of the Academics
seriously held me back from this quest; but now I feel that
in this disputation I have protected myself sufficiently
against them. No one doubts but that we are helped in
learning by a twofold force, that of authority and that of
reason. 66 I, therefore, am resolved in nothing whatever
to depart from the authority of Christ for I do not find
a stronger. But as to that which is sought out by subtle
reasoning for I am so disposed as to be impatient in my
desire to apprehend truth not only by faith but also by
understanding I feel sure at the moment that I shall find
it with the Platonists, 67 nor will it be at variance with our
44. At this point they saw that I had finished my dis-
course. Though night had already come on and some of
the record had been written by the light of a lamp, never-
theltss the young men were eagerly waiting to see if
Alypius would promise to reply at least on another day.
But Alypius said: "I am prepared to assert that nothing
has ever pleased me as much as my defeat in to-day's
disputation. I think, moreover, that this joy is not some-
thing to which I alone am entitled. I communicate it,
then, to you, rny fellow combatants, or if you prefer
judges of our contest. Perhaps even the Academics them-
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 151
selves wished that In this way they would themselves be
vanquished by their descendants! Could we have seen
or witnessed anything more charming than the wit of this
discourse, more impressive than the weight of its doctrine,
more generous than its goodwill^ or more skilled than its
argumentation? I cannot sufficiently admire the pleasant
way in which distasteful subjects were treated; the courage
with which hopeless difficulties were faced; the modesty
with which conclusions were drawn; and the clarity wit 1
which obscure topics were handled. And so, my friends s
direct now the expectations with which you were going to
have me reply to the argument, to something more worth-
while: join with me in learning. We have a leader who
can bring us with God's guidance even to the hidden
places of truth."
45. The young men behaved in the manner of children
in showing on their faces their disappointment when it
was clear that Alypius was not going to reply.
"You are envying the praise given me?" I asked> smil-
ing. "Now that I feel safe about Alypius' constancy and
fear him in no way, and so that I may earn your gratitude
also, I shall arm you against him who disappointed your
eager expectations. Read the Academical 8 You will find
there that Cicero for what could be easier? has disposed
of my trifling arguments. 69 Then do you compel Alypius
to defend my discourse against Cicero's invincible argu-
ments! This is the hard return I make you, Alypius, for
the praise undeserved that you heaped upon me."
They laughed, and so we came to the end whether or
not it was really secure, I do not know of our long debate
on a quieter note 'and more quickly than I had expected.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
ACW Ancient Christian Writers (Westminster, Maryland
CH A. D. Nock A. J. Festugiere, Corpus Hermeticum (Paris
CIL Corpus inscriptionum latinaram
CSEL Corpus scriptoram eccleslastlcorum latinorum
DTC Dictlonnaire de theologie cathollque (Paris 1903-1950)
MGH Monurnenta Germaniae histories
NPNF Nlcene and Post-Nicene Fathers (New York 1890-1912)
OCD Oxford Classical Dictionary (Oxford 1949)
PL J. P. Migne, Patrologia latina
RAC Reallexikon fiir Antike und Christentum (Leipzig 1941-)
RE Realenzyklopadie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft
(Stuttgart 1894- )
REG Revue des etudes grecques
SCA The Catholic University of America Studies in Christian
Antiquity (Washington 1941 -)
TWNT Theologisches Worterbuch zum Neuen Testament
1 See Intro. 5 A and nn. 124-27.
2 This is the spelling found in the manuscripts. The more usual
is 'Monica/ There is now, however, a tendency to use the manu-
8 Conf. 1. 19; cf. iUd. 1, 14. The translation used throughout is
5 Ibid. 2. 5 f.
6 Ibid. 2. 8.
7 Ibid. 3. 6; cf, ibid. 3. 7.
8 Ibid. 3. 7, 8. Cf. ibid. 6. 18; 8. 17; De b. vita 4; Solil 1. 17. For
the Influence of this famous book of antiquity on Augustine, cf. J.
Stroux, Augustinus und Ciceros Hortensius (Berlin-Leipzig 1931)
106-118; A. Claesen, c Augustinus en Cicero's Hortensius,' Miscel-
lanea Augustiniana (Rotterdam 1930) 391-417.
* Con/. 3. 9 f.; De util. cred. 2.
10 The question of Augustine's Manichean period is well discussed
by P. Alfaric, Uevolution intellectuelle de saint Augustin I (Paris
1918). It is a question which is not sufficiently stressed in the
ordinary biographies of the saint.
11 See Intro. 2 R
12 Con/. 3.19; C. Acad. 2.3.
"Conf. 4. If.
14 MM. 4.3-6; 7.8-10.
15 Ibid. 4. 20-23, 27.
1B Ibid. 5. 3, 10-13. For the New Academy, see Intro. 3.
17 /6M. 5. 14,22.
19 Ibid. 5. 23; cf. C. Petil. 3. 30; Possldius, Vita S. August. 1. For
Symmachus, see O. Seeck, Q. A. Symmachi quae supersunt, MGH
Auct. ant 6 (Berlin 1883); A. Souter, 'Symmachus' no. 2, OCD 871.
20 Seeck, op. eft. cxli; Souter, 'Ausonius/ OCD 126.
21 Cf. Seeck, op. ait. s. vv.; S. Dill, Roman Society in the Last
Century of the Western Empire (2nd ed. London 1889) ch. 2.
22 Cf. Claudian, Panegyricus dictus Manlio Theodora Consuli
1-340; A. Ruben, Dissertatio de vita FL Mallii Theodori (Utrecht
1694); Seeck, op. cit. cxliii; Schanz-Hosius-Kriiger, Geschichte der
romischen Litter atur 4 (2nd ed. Munich 1920) 171 f.
23 Cf. P. Courcelle, Les lettres grecques en Occident de Macrobe
a Cassiodore (Paris 1948) 122-28, 397 f. The personal influence
of people such as Theodorus and other Christians, who were, or
had been, sympathetic to Neo-Platonism, upon Augustine at this
period needs to be emphasized. The influence of Theodorus, how-
ever, can hardly have been as far-reaching as is claimed by
24 1. 31.
25 350 is the date usually given.
26 Cf. Claudian, Paneg. M. Theod. 24 f. We can gather that
these dialogues dealt with the origin and nature of the world, the
stars, and the parts of the soul. Augustine In his speculations about
the soul in De b. vita 5 invites the help of Theodorus in this matter.
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: INTRODUCTION 157
2i ^ff f Llebenam, Fasti consulates Imperil Romani 30 v.
Chr. bis 565 n. Chr. (Bonn 1910) 40; Socrates, Hist Eccl 6.5, 7.
28 C. PetiL 3. 25, 30, In Conf. 6. 9 there Is mention of another
panegyric given by Augustine. Seeck, op. eft. cxi, identifies this as
that on Bauto; but J. Gibb and W. Montgomery, The Confessions
of Augustine (Cambridge 1908) 147 note, give reasons for main-
taining that there were two panegyrics. On Bauto, see also Seeck,
s Bauto/ RE 3 (1899) 176.
2 Cf. Conf. 6. 18.
^ Ibid. 6. 9.
31 Ibid. 6. 3 f., 18.
32 Ibid. 6. 19. 'Presidentship* (praesidatus), that is, a governorship.
38 Ibid. 4. 29.
34 Ibid. 6. 4 f.
35 Cf . SoBl. 2. 23.
36 See Intro. 4 A.
37 Gaius Manns Vietorinus, who translated the Platonist books
read before his baptism by Augustine. We have no evidence that
he translated anything of Plotinus. We do know that he translated
at least one work of Porphyry's: his Isagoge. We possess some of
his Christian writings and his explanations of the De inventions
of Cicero. Cf. O. Bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen
Literatur 3 (2nd ed. Freiburg i. Br. 1923) 460-68.
38 Cf. C. Acad. 1.3; Conf. 6.
30 Augustine, Epist. 26 (Ad Licentium); 27 (Ad Paulinum); 32
(Paulinus ad Romanianum et Licentium). Cf. n. 30 to Book Two.
40 Cf. C. Acad. 1. 4, 8, 25; 2. 17, 19 1, 22, 25-29; 3. 6, 45; De b.
vita 6, 8, 29; De ord. 1. 6-8 s 20; 2. 28.
41 Pagan and Christian Rome (London 1892) 14 f.
42 See below, nn. 151, 155, and 157.
43 9. 27.
44 Serm. 356. 3.
45 Cf. Alfaric, op. eft. 8. n. L
46 C. Acad. 2. 3.
47 Augustine, Epist. 32. 5. In his own letter to Paulinus, Epist.
27. 46, Augustine calls Romanianus a kinsman of Alypius.
48 Cf. the Benedictine Vita S. August. 2.45 (PL 32. 108); C.
Acad. 2.4 f.
49 Cf. 2. 8; Conf. 6.24.
50 Cf. C. Acad. 2. 8; De vera rel 12; Epist. 15. 1; 27. 4.
51 Epist. 27. 4; 32 (Paulinus to Romanianus and Licentius).
52 C!L8Suppl. 17226.
5S 3. 14.
54 3. 45.
55 E.g.: 1. 7, 8; 2. 22, 26; 3. 14-16, 31, 35 1, 41, 43, 45.
m See P. Drewniok, De Augustinl contra Academicos libris III
(diss. Breslau 1913). This thesis is vitiated by the assumption that
Augustine is incapable of any originality (cf. 66, 68, 70), by one
egregious blunder (20 f.), and by a too lively imagination in the
noting of verbal correspondence.
57 Alfaric, op. cit. 276, sees very close external correspondence
between the two works. His opinion, however, is based on the view
that Augustine was using the earlier two-book edition of the Aca-
demica. Drewniok's thesis, on the other hand, gives much emphasis
to the assumption that he was using the later four-book edition.
Cf. C. Thiaucourt, *Les Academiques de Ciceron et le Contra
Academicos de saint Augustin,' in Melanges Boissier (Paris 1903)
425 ff. For the general problem of the editions of the Academica,
see O. Plasberg's edition (Leipzig 1922), and J. S. Reid's (London
58 See n. 53 to Book Two.
50 See n. 29 to Book One.
60 See n. 55 to Book Two.
61 See above, n. 16.
62 Codex Monacensis (llth century); Codex Trecensis (llth
68 Retract, L L
64 Codex Parisinus (9th century); Codex Remensis (9th cen-
tury); Codex Harleianus (10th century).
65 Retract 1. 1; cf. De Trin. 15. 12. 21; Enchir. 20.
66 Epist. L L
87 Cf. 2. 11; 3. 10, 31, and Cicero, Acad. 2. 66, 115.
68 Cf. 2. 11; 3. 18, and Cicero, Acad. L 40-42; 2. 18, 77.
69 Cf. 2. 1 1; 3. 22 f., and Cicero, Acad. 2. 91.
70 Cf. 2.11; 3.22f., and Cicero, Acad. 1.45; 2.28, 59 f., 66,
71 Cf. 2. II; 3. 22-32, and Cicero, Acad. L 45; 2. 59, 66, passim.
72 Cf. 2. 12; 3. 33-36, and Cicero, Acad. 2. 24 f ., 33 ff.
73 3. 43: Hoc mihi de Academicis interim probabiliter, ut potui,
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: INTRODUCTION 159
persuasi. Quod si fahum est, nihll ad me, cui satis est lam non
arbitrari non posse ab homine inveniri veritatem. Quisquis autem
putat hoc sensisse Academicos, ipsum Ciceronem audiat. Alt enim
illis morem fuisse occultandi sententiam suam nee earn cuiquam,
nisi qui secum ad senectutem usque vixissent, aperire consuesse.
Quae sit autem ista, deus viderit; earn tamen arMtror Platonis
fuisse. The quotation from Cicero is Academica frg. 21 (Miiller).
There is nothing in Cicero's extant works that would support
Augustine's view (offered, as should be noticed, with little assur-
ance). Some passages do come fairly close e.g.: Acad. 2.60, 98;
De fin. 2. 2; cf. De fato 4; De off. 2. 8; De orat. I. 84; 3. 67, 80;
Tusc. 1.8; 2. 9 but not close enough. Moreover, the quotation
given by Augustine does not cover the theory to which he attaches
it. It merely states: (1) that the Academics were accustomed to
conceal their own view, and, (2) that they revealed it only to those
who lived with them up to old age. It does not authorize the state-
ments that that secret doctrine (1) was Plato's, and (2) that they
deliberately taught an assumed negative one. If Cicero had in fact
expounded such an opinion, Augustine would have quoted him
explicitly to that effect. Of course, the whole tenor of Cicero's
writings is against Augustine in this, as he himself knows; cf.
C. Acad. 2. 29 f.; 3. 41; also the notes to 3. 43.
74 Neo-Platonism was a synthesis of Platonic, Pythagorean,
Aristotelian, and Stoic elements, and was the dominant philosophy
of the third century A.D. down to the time of Justinian (sixth cen-
tury). The outstanding Neo-Platonists were Plotinus (the great-
est), Porphyry, and lamblichus. Their doctrine was a spiritual one,
bordering on, if not actually being, pantheism. Cf. T. Whittaker,
The Neoplatonists (2nd ed. Cambridge 1918); E. R. Dodds,
'Neoplatonism,' OCD 602.
75 Rev. d. deux mondes 85 (Jan. 1888) 43-69; cf. G. Boissier, La
fin du paganisme (3rd ed. Paris 1898) 291-325. A. Naville, Saint
Augustin, Etude sur le deveioppement de $a pensee jusqrfd, I'epoque
de son ordination (Geneva 1872), had already said something on
70 In Augustins Confessionen (2nd ed. Giessen 1895) 17. He
modified his views considerably, however, in Augustin, Reflexionen
und Maximen (Tubingen 1922) xvil
77 S. Loofs, 'Augustinus,' Realenc. f. prot. TheoL u. Kirche 2 (3rd
ed. Leipzig 1897) 266 ff.
78 L. Gourdon, Essai sur la conversion de saint Augustin (Geneva
TO Op. cit.51;cf. also 45.
80 Ibid. 87.
81 W. Thimme, Augustins geistige Entwicklung in (j^en ersten
Jahren nach seiner Bekehrung (386-391) (Berlin 1908) "ll.
82 Intro, vlli. Augustine does refer to his impending baptism in
De ord. 2. 27.
85 527; cf. also 361, 381 f., 393, 398, 518, 525.
86 Alfaric, ihU 400,406.
si f f Worter, Die Geistesentwicklung des hi Aurelius Augustinus
88 J. Martin, 'St. Augustin a Cassiciacum, veille et lendemain de
sa conversion,* Ann. de philos. chret., nouv. ser. 39 (1898) 307 iff.
89 E. Portalie, 'Augustin/ DTC 1. 2 (1903) 2273 f.
90 J. Mausbach, Die Ethik des hi. Augustinus (2nd ed. Freiburg
I. Br. 1929) 1.6-16; 2.390-400.
91 W. Montgomery, St. Augustine, Aspects of his Life and
Thought (London 1914) 2.32-66.
92 A. Hatzfeld, Saint Augustine (English tr. London 1898) 58
93 T. Bret, La conversion de saint Augustin (Geneva 1900).
94 Cf. E. Gilson, Introduction a I 9 etude de saint Augustin (Paris
1929) 313: *Dans Fensemble ce travail est le plus pondere et, &
notre sens, le plus juste que Ton ait consacre a cette delicate
95 J. Norregaard, Augustins Bekehrung (tr. from the Danish by
A. Spelmeyer, Tubingen 1923) 15 n. 2.
96 Boyer, op. cit. 203.
07 In particulars the preface to Book Two.
08 See nn. 17, 21, 22, 23, 26 to Book Two, and J. J. O'Meara,
*Neo-Platonism in the Conversion of Saint Augustine,* Dominican
Studies 3 (1950) 331-43.
99 See 3. 43.
100 See 3. 43 and n. 66 to Book Three.
101 See 3. 43.
102 A.D. 204/5-269/70. Plotinus was born, according to Eunapius
and Suidas, at Lycopolis in Egypt, and lived at Rome until his death
which took place in Campania. He taught philosophy and had
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: INTRODUCTION 161
many followers, the most notable of whom were Porphyry and
Amelius. Towards the end of his life he circulated among his pupils
some essays in which he treated of his philosophical system. These
were edited by Porphyry in six books with nine essays to each book
(hence the name Enneads). It is possible that another pupil,
Eustochius, also edited independently his own set of notes. Ploti-
nus' doctrine is at once systematic, rational, and at the same time
highly mystical. Cf. E. R. Dodds, Tlotinus,' OCD 705 f; E.
Brehier, La philosophie de Plotin (Paris 1928). There is clear evi-
dence that Augustine had read some of Plotinus 5 work in transla-
tion, and possibly also in the original Greek, In 386; cf. Conf. 7. 13;
8. 3; C. Acad. 3.41; De b. vita 4; Solil 1. 9; Epist. 6. 1. On the
question of Augustine's knowledge of Greek, cf. Courcelle, op. cit.
137-53, 182, 194. His general conclusion (194) is that Augustine
was just barely able to check translations from the Greek by con-
trolling them from the Greek text. It was not until the end of his
life that he was able to read and translate Greek with any ease. B.
Altaner, however, in one of his most recent studies on the question,
'Die Beniitzung von original griechischen Vatertexten durch Au-
gustinus,' Zeitschr. f. ReL-u. Geistesgesch. (1948) 77 n. 20, dis-
agreeing with Courcelle, suggests that Augustine seriously occupied
himself with Greek well before the year 415. In the present study
it is concluded that by 386 Augustine had read at least some sec-
tions of the Enneads: e.g.: 1. 6; 3. 2; 4. 3; 5. 1; whether in Greek
or not, we cannot say. See nn. 11, 14, 15 to Book One; nn. 8, 26 to
Book Two; and nn. 3, 61 to Book Three.
loa A.D. 232/3 - ca. 305. He was born at Tyre, studied under
Longinus at Athens, and became the faithful follower and disciple
of Plotinus, whose biography he wrote and whose works he edited
about 300. He was, himself, a prolific writer, regarding it as his mis-
sion to popularize the doctrine of his master. The works of his most
relevant to our present study are the Ile/x r?js IK AoyiW <f>ikoo-o<t>ia<s )
Uposr *Ai//3ct>, Ilcpt rov jiuav clvat TTJV UAaTwos icat 'ApLcrrorlXov^ atpccrtv,
and, above all, the De regressu animae. These works were well
known to Augustine in later life, and the case is made here (see
nn. 32, 34, 49 to Book One; nn. 10, 17, 24, 26, 29, 63 to Book Two;
and nn. 10, 11, 61 to Book Three) that they were probably known
to him in 386 and may have had decisive influence on him. It
should be noted that Porphyry received more extensive notice from
Augustine than any other Neo-Platonist (cf. De civ. Dei 10 [all];
11.2; 12.21, 26; 13.19; 19.23; 20.24; 22.3, 12, 25-28), and is
also more highly praised than any other (cf. De civ. Dei 19. 22;
20. 24; 22. 3), and in particular as against Plotinus, who is
always commended as being an interpreter of Plato, and not (as
Porphyry!) as an original philosopher (cf, C. Acad. 3.41; De civ.
Dei 9. 10; 10.2). We must not allow our present day persuasion
as to the relative merits of Porphyry and Plotinus to distort our
vision of the position as it presented itself to Augustine. As Cour-
celle says, op. cit. 114: la philosophic porphyrienne ... la philoso-
phie regnante'; 394: *une seule philosophic subsiste, la neo-pla-
tonicienne; le maltre des esprits est Porphyre'; cf. ibid. 33 f.; 61-65;
394-96. One work of Porphyry's made its author especially in-
famous among Christians, his Kara Xpmai/w, a work which Augus-
tine might have known before his baptism (Courcelle's arguments
to the contrary, op. cit. 165, 169, 175, 395, are singularly uncon-
vincing). For Porphyry's life and works, see J. Bidez, Vie de
Porphyre, le philosophe neoplatonicien (Ghent- Leipzig 1913);
E. R. Dodds, Torphyry, 9 OCD 719 f.
104 Op. cit. 375.
105 In: Schriften der Konigsberger Gel. Ges. 10. 1 (Halle).
106 Op. cit 2, 4 L
107 P. Henry, Plotin et ^Occident: Firmicus Maternus, Marius
Victorinus, saint Augustin et Macro&e, Spic. sacr. Lov. 15 (Louvain
1934); cf, the same, 'Augustine and Plotinus,' Jour, of Theol. Stud.
38 (1937) 1-23. Courcelle, op. cit. 160 f., also criticizes Theiler's
108 Plotin et rOccident 94; 'Augustine and Plotinus' 8.
109 See nn. 11, 14, 15 to Book One; nn. 8, 26 to Book Two; and
nn. 3, 61 to Book Three.
110 See nn. 32, 34, 49 to Book One; nn. 10, 17, 24, 26, 29, 63 to
Book Two; and nn. 10, 1 1, 61 to Book Three.
111 Seen. 158.
112 D. Ohlmann, De sancti Augustini dialogis in Cassiciaco
scriptis (diss. Strasbourg 1897).
118 J, H. Van Haeringen, De Augustini ante baptismum rusti-
cantis operibus (diss. Amsterdam: Groningen 1917).
114 R. Hirzel, Der Dialog (Leipzig 1895) 2. 376-80.
115 Cf. A. Gudeman, *Sind die Dialoge Augustins historisch?' in
Silvae Monacenses (Munich 1926) 16-27; also the article of the
same title by R. Philippson, Rhein. Mus. 80 (1931) 144-50.
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: INTRODUCTION 163
116 Cf. Alfaric, op. cit 400 n. L
117 Cf. Ohlmann, op. cit. 79.
118 Retract. 1.2.
119 He appeals also to Conf. 9. 7, but admits that this text is not
120 C. Bindemann, Der hi Augustinus (Berlin 1844) 1. 294.
121 Ohlmann, op. cit. 13 ff.
122 Ibid. 14, 79. To prove that the dialogues are not successful
when judged by traditional models, is not, in any case, to prove
that they are historical.
123 Ibid. 16, 17: ex eo quod dialogi hi ficti sunt, illos fictos non
esse pro certo concludam.
124 Ibid. 27.
125 L. S. le Nain Tillemont, Memoir es pour servir a fhistoire
ecclesiastique des six premiers siecles 13 (Paris 1702) 88 f.
126 CSEL 63. 2 n. L He fails to notice Van Haeringen's work.
127 Op. cit. 36.
128 Op. cit n. 5 (p. 960). Cf. also Boyer, Christianisme et Neo-
Platonisme dans la formation de saint Augustin, 9 n. 4.
120 Cf. op. cit. 15-24.
130 He appeals (unnecessarily cf. C. Acad. 1.4) to T. Dokkum,
De constructionis analyticae vice accusativi cum infinitivo fungentis
usu apud Augustinum (Sneek 1900) to 'prove 5 this.
131 Loc. cit.
132 Op. cit. 79.
183 P. de Labriolle, in the introduction to his edition of the Con-
fessions (Paris 1925) xv-xvi, and Boyer, op. cit. 16 f., rightly insist
upon this point,
184 See below, n. 166.
185 detract. 1.2.
186 Augustine refers (Epist. 162. 2) to his De lib. arb. as quae te
(his addressee) conference mecum ac sermocinante conscripsi. It
is clear from the context and the book itself that this phrase is
used merely to indicate that the work in question is in dialogue
form. Ohlmann, op. cit. 16 f., rightly regards the De lib. arb. as
fictional although Van Haeringen, op. cit. 10, denies this. The
phrase libri disputati cum praesentibus et cum ipso me solo of Conf.
9. 7 is an even clearer instance of reference to a literary form. And
so also is the term disputatio as used here.
137 Cf. Retract. 1. 9 as against Ohlmann, op. cit. 16.
138 See Intro. 5 A.
139 Cf. 3. 15.
140 Cf. the prologue.
141 Ohlmann encounters two of them, op. cit. 19 f. In his efforts
to solve them he makes assumptions that are purely gratuitous.
Other difficulties against Ohlmann's scheme are discussed by Van
Haeringen in the course of his own work. They are concerned
with the part of Monnica in the debates, the changing attitude
towards philosophy of Licentius, and the sequenc'e implied by the
beginning of De ord. 2.
142 He is aware of some of them himself, and seeks to explain
them away but quite unsuccessfully. Cf. op. cit. 37, 44. He, too,
has to make gratuitous assumptions. A further difficulty, not
indicated by Van Haeringen, is that in his sequence Licentius,
although he forswears allegiance to the Academy in C. Acad. 2. 27,
and De ord. L 10, is represented in De b. vita 14 (a later disputa-
tion according to Van Haeringen's sequence) as being still an
Academic. This involves Van Haeringen in the same trouble as
beset Ohlmann. It is to be noted that all the indications of sequence
within the dialogues are equally guaranteed by the record of the
notariu$ poor guarantee in a dialogue!
143 By the time Augustine came to write his dialogues, there had
not only been many models which he could follow, but these models
had been discussed, the dialogue defined, and various types classi-
fied; cf. the introduction to Plato's dialogues by Albinus (2nd cent.
A. D.), EW.ywy^ ci's TOV? HAaTcovos StaAoyovs (ed. C. F. Hermann,
Platon 6. 147, Leipzig 1892).
144 Augustine always refers to them as his own works; cf. Epist.
1, Conf. 9.7, De Trin. 15.21, Enchir. 7, Retract 1. 1, 2, 3. They
were his <nr/ypaju,ju,ara, not his virofjLvijjiiaTa (cf. W. Bousset, Judisch-
christlicher Schulbetrieb [Gottingen 1915] 4 f., and A. J. Festugiere,
<Le "logos" hermetique d'enseignement, 3 REG 55  96).
145 Cf. De ord. I. 14, 30, 31; 2. 17; SoKZ. 2. 28.
146 Cf. De ord. 1.31.
147 Cf. J. Guitton, Le temps et I* eternite chez Plotin et saint Au-
gustin (Paris 1933) xi. *Ces genres ne sont pas d'ailleurs un ha-
billement; deja ils imposent a Fesprit certains tours et certains plis.
... En choisissant un genre, on a deja reconnu ses maitres: on se
rattache & une tradition ..... on accepte une compagnie.'
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: INTRODUCTION 165
148 This is said to be an Aristotelian feature; cf. Cicero, Ad Att.
4. 16. 2; also Proclus, In Farm. 1. 659 (Cousin).
140 There are some small correspondences between the introduc-
tory letters of the Dialogues of Cassidacum and Plato's famous
seventh epistle. In both there is autobiography by way of an
apologia; the intervention of Providence is noted (Epist. 7. 326e:
C. Acad. L 1; 2. 1; De b. vita 1); and it is asserted that philoso-
phy does not reveal herself except to those who dedicate themselves
to her entirely (340c, d, e; 34 la : C. Acad. I. I; 2. 8).
150 The protreptic was an exhortation to philosophy. See P.
Wendland, Anaximenes von Lampsakos (Berlin 1905) 81 ff. An-
tisthenes, Aristotle, Epicurus, Cleanthes, Posidonius, Clement of
Alexandria, among many others were authors of such invitations to
philosophy. Cf. A. J. Festugiere, La revelation d 3 Hermes Trisme-
giste (Paris 1944) L324ff., and A. D. Nock and Festugiere, CH
14. 1; 16. 1; Asclepius 1, for examples of such protreptic introduc-
tory letters. Cf. Festugiere, 'Le "logos," ' REG 55 (1942) 77 f., for
an analysis of a typical instance. Festugiere's remark (ibid. 78):
'Certes, rien n'est plus commun a Y epoque hellenistique que la
courte homelie morale adressee a un ou plusieurs auditeurs et que
les manuels nomment diatribe,* reminds us forcibly that Augustine
was following closely a well-established literary genre. The in-
stances cited above may well have been known to Augustine. Cf.
Nock and Festugiere, op. eft. 259, 264 ff., 277, 279 f. There was, of
course, one protreptic whose influence upon the C. Acad. we can
immediately trace: the famous Hortensius of Cicero, which had
made such an impression on Augustine (cf. Conf. 3. 7f.; 6. 18;
8. 17). This book was being used by him in the autumn of 386
in his efforts to make his young friends and pupils interested in
philosophy (cf. C. Acad. 1. 4). It is not surprising, then, that frag-
ments of the Hortensius have been recovered from the C. Acad.
Similarly, the C. Acad. contains echoes of the lost npoTpeTrrwcos of
Aristotle, on which the Hortensius was based; cf. R. Walzer,
Aristotelis dialogorum fragmenta (Florence 1934).
151 Cf. Plato's Charmides, Euthydemus, Lysis, Phaedo, Philebus
(cf. Festugiere, 'Le "logos" 3 90-92), and Theaetetus (cf. 168e and
C. Acad. 2. 22: in Plato's dialogue Socrates plays the role adopted
by Augustine in the C. Acad., Theaetetus that by Licentius, and
other disciples that by Trygetius). Cf. Cicero's De finibus and De
152 Cl C. Acad. 1. 11, 16, 24 f.; 2. 10, 25, 29, and Cicero, De
am. 3. 5.
ws Cf. C. -Acad. L 15, 25; 2. 30; 3. 14.
154 Cf. C. .Acad. 2. 10, and Plato, Timaem 17b. For a proceeding
somewhat similar, cf. C. Acad. 1.4, 25; Nock and Festugiere, CH
14. 1; Festugiere, <Le "logos" ' 94.
155 Cf. C. Acad. 2. 10-14, 17, 22, 24 i, 29; 3.4; De b. vita 16;
De ord. L 5; 2, ?.
156 Cf. C. Acad. 1.6, 16; Plato, Protagoras 338a, Symposium
175e; Tacitus, D*W. 4.
1OT ClDeord. 1. 16, 17, 19.
158 Cf. C. Acad. L 4, 15; 2. 17, 22, 29; 3. 15, 44; De b. vita 15, 18;
De ord. 1. 5, 14, 20, 26 f., 29 ff., 33; 2. 17, 21. Both Ohlmann and
Van Haeringen fail to take account of all the items on this list.
Some instances of such guarantees in previous non-historical dia-
logues are; Plato, Euthydemus 272d, 275b; Phaedo 59c, d;
Phaedrus, 228a-c, 230e> 234d, 236e, 242d, 243c, 262d, 263e; Mene-
xenus 236b, c, 246c 9 249; Symposium 173e, 174a; Timaeus 20e;
Theaetetus 143a-c; Cicero, Tusc. 2. 9; Macrobius, Sat. 1. L 5, 6;
1.6. 13; Sulpicius Severus, Dial 3. 17. Hirzel, op. cit. 2.376-80,
notes the second-century Gnostic text, Pistis Sophia, as making a
claim very like that made in the Dialogues of Cassiciacum. But
the nearest instances we have noted are: (1) Plato's (?) Epinomis
980c s d (ci Festugiere, <Le "logos" * 93 and 96 n. 5, and Liddell &
Scott, new ed.  s.v. foro/tu^a. The record-taking of the C. Acad.
is not less likely to be a fiction than the note-taking of the Epi-
nomis, especially in view of the prevalence of record-taking in the
fourth century A.D.); and (2) Thessalos* record of the revelation
granted to him (a document of the first century A. D. cf.
Festugiere, 'Inexperience religieuse du medecin Thessalos,' Rev.
Bibl 48  45 ff.). Thessalos provided himself with paper and
ink to take down the revelation as it occurred! A. D. Nock, Con-
version (Oxford 1933) 289, cites the case of Lucius as found in
Apuleius, Met. 6. 25 ff. an instance which, in view of Augustine's
schooling at Madauros, the home of Apuleius, may well have been
known to Augustine and have given him yet another impulse to
employ the idea. There is nothing unusual, then, in the claims of
faithful reporting made by Augustine in the Dialogues of Cas-
siciacum. But even if there were, his fiction would be but plausible.
159 Cf. Augustine, De 6. vita 6, and Plato, Gorgios 447a; Repub-
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: INTRODUCTION 167
lie 327 ff.; Porphyry, Vita Plot. 2. 15 (Porphyry wrote a poem,
*O eepos ya^os, no. 74 in Bidez's list, in honour of the anniversary of
Plato's birthday); Cicero, De fin. 2. 102.
160 Cf. De ord. 1.8, 10, 11, 13, 16, 17, 19, 2G S 21, 28; 2. 12, 17;
and, referring to Socrates, Plato, Cratylus 396d, e; Phaedrus 235d,
236c, 238c, d, 244, 262d, 265a, b; and, referring to poets, Apology
22a, b; Euthydemus 280a; Hipp. Min. 365; Ion 542a; Laws 888e;
Lysis 214, 215; Phaedrus 260a, Protagoras 347e; Theaetetus 152k
161 Cf. C. Acad. 3. 45, and Cicero, De fin. 4. 8ff; Plato, Theaetetus
162 Cf. De &. wte 35, 36, and Plato, Phaedrus 279b; Nock and
Festugiere, CH 1. 30 f.; 13. 13 ff.; Asclepius 40 f.
168 C. Acad. 3. 15; De ord. 2. 12-17, 23-52.
164 Even Plato himself is said to have had difficulty; see the
anonymous (papyrus) commentary to Plato's Theaetetus in Ber-
liner Klassikertexte 2 (1905) 28; cf. Sophist. 21 7d. For Cicero, see
Defin. 1.29; 2. 17.
165 One should note that the Dialogues of Cassidacum end with as
little reference to the addressee as do those of Plato or Cicero.
166 Op. cit. 79. If Augustine invented the mouse incident, then
there does not seem to be any reason why he should not also have
invented the improbable vigil of Licentius which is connected with
the mouse; the improbable all-night discussion of philosophical
questions; the improbable knowledge of philosophical problems
shown by Licentius so profound that his companions are made to
regard him as being inspired (although till then he had shown but
little interest in such matters). It is extremely likely, in fact, that
he made up the whole episode.
167 Op. cit. 22. Van Haeringen's attempt to prove that Trygetius
surpasses Licentius in erudition is more amusing than convincing
but it also involves a misreading of De ord. 2. 7.
188 There are some small discrepancies which should not arise if
the dialogues were actually based on a record; e.g.: C. Acad. L 6:
s repeto . . . sententiam meam. 5 No such sententia had been attrib-
uted to him. Cf. the inconsistency in the data determining the
order of occurrence of the dialogues. See Intro. 5 A.
169 Cf. the details referred to in Retract. 1. 2. See Intro. 5 A.
170 In the Confessions Augustine was under an obligation not to
misrepresent facts. It was far otherwise in the dialogues.
171 See nn. 17, 21, 22, 23, 26 to Book Two. At most there is.
naturally, a difference of emphasis due to the nature of the form,
the subject-matter, and the time of writing.
172 P. de Labriolle, in the introduction to his edition of the Con-
fessions (Paris 1925) xxv-xxxii; R. Jolivet, in his edition of the
Dialogues of Cassidacum (Paris 1939); and P. Henry, Plotin et
rOcddent (Louvain 1934) 86.
1 For this type of introductory letter, see n, 150 to the Intro.
2 For the addressee, see the Intro. 2 F.
3 In the Retractationes, composed about 427, Augustine reviews
his writings with the intention of correcting impressions which he
did not then wish to be given. Regarding the use of the word
'fortune/ he states (1. 1. 2): 'But I regret that in the same three
books of mine (C. Acad.) I mentioned "fortune" so often. I did not
intend, of course, this word to refer to any goddess, but rather to
the fortuitous outcome of events for good or evil affecting our own
bodies or things external Whence we use the words forte ("by
chance"), forsan ("perhaps"), forsitan, fortasse, fortuito, words
about which we need have no scruple. Nevertheless, we should
seek the explanation of all this in Divine Providence. Even then I
did not neglect to do so, when I said: "Indeed, it may be that what
is commonly called fortune' is governed by a secret ordinance;
and we call 'chance' that element in things for which we can offer
no cause or reason." I said this, it is true; yet I regret that I men-
tioned fortune there in such a way. For I notice that men have a
deplorable habit of saying: "It is the will of fortune," when they
should say: "It is the will of God." ' For the cult of the Latin
Fortuna and the Greek Tyche, see OCD s. vv.; cf. Cicero, Acad.
*Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 139: 'Revocat virtus vei potius reprendit
5 Retract. 1.1.2: 'When I said in a certain place: "The fact is
that, whether because we have deserved it, or because this is neces-
sary by nature, the divine spirit that is united to our mortal bodies
can never reach the harbour of wisdom, etc.," I should either have
said nothing on these two points for the sense could have been
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK ONE 169
complete without them or it would have been enough to say:
"because we deserved it," (a truth apparent from the wretchedness
we have inherited from Adam); and I should not have added "or
because this is necessary by nature," since the dire necessity of our
nature has justly arisen from the evil that went before. 5 The pas-
sage in the text has a Platonic touch, which could have been de-
rived from many sources; cf. for instance, Cicero, Acad. 1. 29. The
principle laid down by R. Reitzenstein (Bibliothek Warburg,
Vortrage 1 [1922-23] 40 n. 13) in the matter of tracing Plotinian
influence (and this holds true for all Platonist influence here) on
Augustine Is important: before assuming influence by Plotinus one
should always ask oneself what may be inspired by Cicero. This
is to be recommended especially in the case of Augustine's Contra
e Augustine says that although at this time he had no settled
views on the question of the soul (De b. vita 5; Solil. 1.7), never-
theless he was deeply interested in the matter (C. Acad. 3. 38; De
b. vita 4; De ord. 2. 24, 44, 47; Solil. 1. 7; 2. 27, 32). In general, he
speaks of the anima (soul) as that which with the body makes up
the human composite (C. Acad. 1.9; De ord. 2.6, 19); of the
animus (spirit) as the intellectual, as opposed to the sensitive or
vegetative, part of the anima (De ord. 2. 6); of the mens (mind) as
a faculty of the animus (Epist. 3. 4), which is capable of a lower
discursive function (De ord. 2. 30, 38, 48, 50) called ratio (reason),
and a higher intuitional function (De ord. 2. 17, 19, 41-42; Epist .
3.4; 8.2) called intellectus (intellection). There is, of course, a
certain fluidity in the terminology (C. Acad. I. 22; De b. vita 8; De
ord. 2. 5, 6, 7, 38, 41, 48, 50; Solil. 2. 33), but never so as to cause
any confusion. Gilson, Introduction a I'etude de saint Augustin
(Paris 1929) 53-54 n. 1, finds a similar scheme for the whole of
Augustine's works. Augustine's animus may remind one of the
Neo-Platonic vote but it is clearly differentiated from it. It is
claimed to be of all things the nearest to God (C. Acad. L 9; De b.
vita. 4), but is also said to be definitely not of the same substance
as God (De ord. 2. 46). In this Augustine emphatically, and for us
significantly, repudiates what forms a fundamental postulate of
Neo-Platonism. He is puzzled as to the origin of the soul (C. Acad.
LI; Deb. vita 1; De ord. 2. 17, 47), but favours the idea of a pre-
existence (C. Acad. 1. 9; 2. 22; De ord. 2. 31; Solil. 2. 31, 35; Epist.
7. 2), and is satisfied that the soul is immortal (Solil 2. 3-5, 23, 32).
T The epithet 'divine* used with 'spirit' is not employed in its
strict significance. Augustine at this time also speaks, for example,
of divina philosophia (Epm. 2. 1; cf. De ordL 2.46). The divinity
of the soul is mentioned not only by Cicero (De fin. 2. 40; De of.
3.44; Tusc. 1. 65; 5. 38, 70) among many others, who may have
meant it in a full sense, but by Ambrose (cf. De Noe et area 92),
who certainly did not attach this meaning to it,
8 A favourite metaphor in Greek and Roman philosophical and
mystical literature: cf. Nock and Festugiere, CH 7. 1 and n. 6;
Cicero, Tusc. 1. 107, 108; De sen. 71; Virgil (?), Catal 8.
Another such expression. It is connected with the famous adage
'know thyself: cf. Nock and Festugiere, CH 1. 18 and n. 47; also
below, nn. 12 and 22 to Book Two.
10 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 1.29.
11 Cf. Plotinus 3. 2. 3, 13. Augustine refers later in De civ. Dei
(10. 14) to this essay of Plotinus. He is also indebted to it in De
ord. 1.1, which is contemporary with C. Acad. Cf. nn. 14, 15 below;
nn. 8 and 26 to Book Two; nn. 3 and 61 to Book Three.
12 The distinction between popular knowledge for the masses
and philosophical knowledge for the few was much stressed in
antiquity. Cf. Aristotle, Eth. End. 1217b, 22, Pol 1278b, 31,
Metaph. 1076a, 28, Eth. Nicom. 1102a, 26. From this naturally
arose the idea of a secret doctrine for the few (cf. Plato, Epist.
7. 341c), which was widespread in Hellenistic times (cf. Nock and
Festugiere, CH 13.22 and n. 62; Asclepius 2; Festugiere, *Le
"Logos" * 86), and which is fully exploited in an interesting way in
the present work. Cf. 2. 29; 3. 38; and n. 61 to Book Three.
1S A synthesis of Christianity and Platonism cf. 3. 43.
14 Nam si divina providentia pertenditur usque ad nos, quod
minime dubitandum est . . . From a comparison of this text with
De ord. 1.1: *aut divinam providentiam non usque in haec ultima
et ima pertendi . . . utrumque impium/ and De ciuj* Dei 10. 14:
*de providentia disputat Plotinus Platonicus eamque a summo deo
. , . usque ad haec terrena et ima pertingere,* it is clear that Augus-
tine was acquainted in 386 with Plotinus 3. 2. 13, to which the
passage in De civ. Dei refers. Cf. also De ord. 2. 12 (and 1.2, 4,
18; 2. 51; Conf. 7. 19 ff.) with Plotinus 3. 2. 7, 17. Cf. nn. 11 above
and 15 below; nn, 8, 26 to Book Two; and nn. 3, 61 to Book Three.
15 Cf. Plotinus L 6. 7; cf. nn, 1 1, 14 above; nn. 8, 26 to Book Two;
and nn. 3, 61 to Book Three.
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK ONE 171
16 That Is, his mens y 'mind. 9
17 The metaphor of waking from sleep is often used in this con-
nection: cf. De b, vita. 35; Solil. 1. 2; Plotinus 1. 6. 8, 9; lamblichus,
Protr. 2. 56; see also in the Bible: 1 Cor. 15. 34; 1 Thess. 5. 6; 1
Peter 5. 8; etc.
18 Manicheism. See Intro. 2 A.
19 Here, too, Augustine was to criticize himself later, Retract.
1. 1.2: * Again, when I stated in that place that "nothing whatever
that is discerned by mortal eyes, or is the object of any perception,
should be worshipped, but everything such should be con-
temned," I should have added some words so that it would read:
"is the object of any perception of the mortal body" For there Is
a perception also of the mind. But I was speaking then as those do
who maintain that perception can be predicated only of the body,
and that only corporeal things can be perceived. Accordingly,
wherever I have spoken in this way, there is danger of my words
being ambiguous except to those who are accustomed to employ
the phrase in question. 9
20 See Intro. 2 A and ibid. n. 8.
21 See Intro. 5 B and ibid. n. 158.
22 Cf. Virgil, Aen. 9.312.
28 Cf. Cicero, Hort. fr. 36 (Muller).
24 In Retract. 1. 1.2, Augustine again remarks: *I said further:
"What else do you think happiness is, but to live in conformity with
that which is best in man?" Now what I meant by "that which is
best in man" I explained shortly afterwards: "Who," said I, "would
think that anything else is best in man but that part of his spirit
whose commands whatever else there is in man must obey? And
this part, lest you ask for another definition, can be termed 'mind'
or Veason. 5 " This, of course, is true; for, as far as man's nature is
concerned, there is nothing better in him than mind and reason.
But he who would be happy should not live in conformity with that
mindfor then he would live according to man, whereas, in order
to arrive at happiness, he ought to live according to God. In order
to achieve happiness, our mind should not be content with itself,
but should subject itself to God."
25 Such an opinion of his has not been given in the text; ci n. 27
below, and Intro. 5 C.
26 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 127.
27 We have not been told that he had been made judge; cf . n. 25
28 The argument is nearly always referred to in the case of the
hypothetical Vise' man. Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 66 ff.
29 Carneades: 214/213 - 129/128 B.C. He was born at Gyrene,
founded the New Academy, made a famous visit to Rome in 156/
155 when he argued so successfully both for and against a problem
concerning justice that the Romans were shocked. He resigned
from the presidentship of his school in 137/136, and left no writ-
ings. He denied the possibility of any certitude whatever, but
evolved a theory of probability in action depending upon degree of
clarity in perception. Cf. H. v. Arnim, 'Karneades,' RE 10 (1919)
30 Cicero, Hort. fr. 101 (Miiller).
31 Cf, Cicero, Acad. 1.43-46.
82 Cum hoc corpus, hoc est, tenebrosum carcerem, dereliquerit:
cf. Plato, Grot. 400c; Gorg. 493a; Phaed. 82e; 114b, c; Phaedr. 250c.
See nn. 34, 49 below; nn. 10, 17, 24, 26, 29, 63 to Book Two; and
nn. 10, 1 1, 61 to Book Three.
83 Here again Augustine later found ground for correction-
Retract 1. 1. 2: 'Although the word ("omen") was said in a joke
and not seriously, nevertheless, I would prefer not to use it. For I
do not remember meeting the word "omen" either in our Sacred
Scriptures or in the written disputation of any churchman; though
the word "abomination" (dbominatio) which occurs often in Holy
Writ is derived from it.' The Benedictine editors note (PL 32. 586) :
'Nevertheless we do read the word "omen" in 3 Kings 20. 33. But
St. Augustine either did not read it in the version which he was
using, or, because the remarks there are attributed to pagans, did
not consider that the use of a profane word should be approved of
from this instance.*
M A b omni corporis lobe: cf. n. 32 above.
35 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 1. fr, 16, where error is spoken of in terms of
travelling on a road.
30 Cf. Cicero, Tusc. 1.1: 'Cum omnium artium, quae ad rectam
vivendi viam pertinerent, ratio et disciplina studio sapientiae, quae
philosophia dicitur, contineretur. . . /
87 Virgil, Aen. 1.401.
88 But the New Academy retained the process of defining terms;
cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 18.
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK ONE 173
39 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 36.
40 This Stoic definition is found, for example, in Cicero, De off.
2. 5 (for which see the note by H. A. Holden, M. Tulli Ciceronis
De offidis tibri ires [Cambridge 1899] 276), and Tusc. 4. 57; cf. also
Seneca, Epist. 14, 1.5.
41 Possibly the proconsul in Africa in 393; cf. O. Seeck, Tlac-
cianus 5 no. 2, RE 6 (1909) 2431. Augustine at any rate knew the
proconsul well; cf. De civ. Dei 18. 23.
42 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 27.
43 Haruspices. The word (Latin hira (?) = ''gut,* and specio =
*I look 5 ) was applied to diviners imported from Etruria (Livy,
1. 56 .4 f.). The Etrusca disciplina of the haruspices was concerned
(cf. Cicero, De div. 1. 12; 2.26) with a) exta: the interpretation
of peculiarities in vital organs, especially the livers and gall-
bladders of sheep; b) monstra: interpretation of prodigies, such as
unusual births; and c) fulgura: interpretation of lightning by fre-
quency, location, and effects. Cf. C. O. Thulin, ^Haruspices,' RE 7
(1912) 2431-68; A. S. Pease, 'Haruspices,' OCD 405 f.
44 Augures. These were the official Roman diviners and formed
a body (collegium) with as many as sixteen members. The ety-
mology of the word is uncertain. Their business was not to foretell
the future, but from the observation of signs, especially as mani-
fested by birds, to tell if the gods approved or disapproved of an
action proposed. Cf. G. Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Romer
(2nd ed. Munich 1912) 523-34; H. J. Rose, 'Augures/ OCD 120.
45 From the time of Alexander the Great astrology, which claimed
to be able to indicate the effect of celestial bodies on human desti-
nies, and, consequently, foretell the future, spread rapidly through-
out the Graeco-Roman world, until in Imperial times it affected
everyone, high and low, everywhere. It influenced philosophy,
especially Stoicism, and medicine profoundly, and in many ways
left its mark on the literature of the time. Cf. F. Boll, Sternglaube
und Sterndeutung (4th ed. by W. Gundel, Leipzig 1931); F. Cu-
mont, Les religions orientales dans le paganisms romain (4th ed.
Paris 1929) 151-79; A. J. Festugiere, La revelation d'Hermes
Trismegiste (Paris 1944) 1.89-186; W. Gundel, the articles
'Astralreligion' and 'Astrologie,' RAG (1943) 810-17-31.
40 The practitioners of dream divination, called e oneirocritics, J
could refer to a literature of their own, practical dream-books as
contained in the extant Oneirocritica of Artemidorus of Ephesus
and similar works by Demetrius of Phalerum, Hermippus of
Berytus, and others. Closely associated with dream divination is
incubation (see ACW 10 [19501 120 n. 173), a practice in which
especially persons afflicted with ill-health slept within the precincts
of certain shrines, hoping to receive divinatory dreams from the
gods Asclepius (god of health), Serapis, or Isis. Cf. T. Hopfner,
'Mantike,' RE 14 (1930) 1268-76; A. S. Pease, 'Divination, 3 OCD
47 Seers, vates, who practise vatidnatio (foretelling, 3 'prophecy')
act as mouthpieces of divine or demonic powers possessing them.
Cf. Pease, art. tit 4.
48 Daemones: Demons (Gr. Safywov) in Homeric times seem to have
been regarded as manifestations of divine powerwhether for good
or for evil rather than as the divinities or gods (who were called
foot ) themselves. But in the writings of Hesiod and regularly from
the time of Plato, demons were conceived of as beings intermediate
between gods and men. In the Bible the term is used to designate
the fallen angels or 'unclean spirits.' Cf. M P. Nilsson, Geschichte
der griechischen Religion 1 (Munich 1941) 201-206; E. Mangenot,
'Demon/ DTC 4. 1 (1911) 321-409; W. Foerster, '8oi>a>v,* TWNT 2
(1935) 1-21. For a study of demons as regarded by an early
Christian writer, see the monograph by E. Schneweis, Angels and
Demons according to Lactantius (SCA 3, Washington 1944).
It is stated here that these 'contemptible 3 beings live in the air
(note also the allusion at the close of the next paragraph) : regard-
ing the ancient Christian belief that the demons dwelt in the air
and in this medium carried on their evil activity, cf. the observa-
tions in ACW 3 (1947) 123 n. 68, and 10 (1950) 112 n. 82.
49 Ab omnibus involucris corporis mentem quantum potest,
evolvit, et seipsum in semetipsum colligit. See nn. 9 and 32 above.
50 Keeping the traditional reading: quae cum essent dicta,
prandium paratum esse annuntiatum est, atque surreximus, as
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 175
1 Vel calumnia vel pertinacia cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 14, 18, 65.
2 Congrua illi tempori ratio cL 2. 29; 3. 38; n. 73 to the Intro.,
and nn. 48, 49, 53, 61 to Book Three.
3 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 46.
4 Cf. Virgil, Aen. 8. 370 S ., 535; 12. 739.
5 Cf. n. 8 to Book One.
6 Cf. I. Cor. 1. 24; cf. De b. vita 34; De quant, an. 76.
7 That is, the Christian mysteries: see the previous note; also De
ord. 2. 27.
8 Multum me ... adiuvabis ... si ... nitaris . . . nobiscum . . .
voluntate atque ilia tua naturali mentis altitudine, propter quam
te quaero, qua singulariter detector, quam semper admiror, quae
in te . . . nubibus quasi fulmen involvitur. . . . Quis enim . . .
tantum . . . lumine mentis emicuit (cf. fulgor virtutis in the same
passage) : here there appear to be reminiscences of Plotlnus cf.
1. 6. 5. See nn. 11, 14, 15 to Book One; n. 26 below; and nn. 3, 61
to Book Three.
9 We know nothing more of this.
10 Rursus proiecto totius corporis onere recurret in caelum: cf.
nn. 32 5 34, 49 to Book One; 17, 24, 26, 29, 63 below; and nn. 10, 1 1,
61 to Book Three.
11 That is, Christ, Cf. 3. 43.
12 Cf. n. 9 to Book One, and n. 22 below.
1B Ad summum ipsum modum perventurum esse. By summus
modus he means God the Father; cf. De b. vita 34: *Sed quid putatis
esse sapientiam, nisi veritatem? Etiam hoc enim dictum est: "Ego
sum Veritas." Veritas autem ut sit, fit per aliquem summum
modum, a quo procedit, et in quern se perfecta convertit. Ipsi autem
summo modo nullus alius modus imponitur. . . . Ut igitur veritas
modo gignitur, ita modus veritate cognoscitur. . . . Quis est Dei
Filius? Dictum est, "Veritas." Quis est qui non habet patrem, quis
alius quam summus modus?' Modus in this connection has more
the idea of 'end' than 'measure,* and corresponds to the Greek rc'Ao* :
cf. Forcellini, Totius lat. lex. s. v.; Cicero, Verr. 2.2. 118; De fin.
1. 2; Aristotle, Metaph. 994b. 9; 996a. 26. As rc'Ao*, then, It can be
used of the final cause and the Good: cf. Aristotle, Eth. Nicom.
I097a. 21-that is, God, or God the Father.
14 The Holy Spirit is meant: cf. De b. vita 35: s Admonitio autem
quaedam, quae nobiscum agit, ut deum recordemur, ut eum quaera-
mus, . . . de ipso ad nos fonte veritatis emanat. . . . Huius est verum
omne quod loquimur, . . . nihilque aliud etiam hoc apparet esse
quam Deum.' For admonitio, cf. vapaKX^o-^ in Acts 13. 15; 1 Cor.
14. 3; 1 Thess. 2. 3; etc.
15 For Augustine's conception at this time of the relations of faith
and reason, see 3. 43, and n. 66 to Book Three.
16 Cf. Conf. 6. 24.
17 Cum ecce tibi libri quidam pleni, ut ait Celsinus, bonas res
Arabicas ubi exhalarunt in nos, ubi illi ftammulae instillarunt
pretiosissimi unguenti guttas paucissimas. . . . Here and in what
follows St. Augustine gives the first extant account of his conver-
sion. It will be seen that it corresponds with that given in Conf.
7. 13 ff. and 8. 1, 28 an agreement which is important. Cf. J. J.
O'Meara, e Neo-Platonism in the Conversion of Saint Augustine/
Dominican Studies 3 (1950) 334-43, and nn. 21, 22, 23, 26
below. Cum ecce: cl Et ecce of Conf. 8. 29. Libri quidam: cf.
quosdam libros (Conf. 7. 13 and 8.3). The books were Platonist
books: cf. Conf. 7. 13, 26; 8. 3. In each of these three references
from the Confessions Augustine uses the same words: Plato-
nicorum libros which by their repetition in such a short space ac-
quire emphasis. He does not say Plotini libros (see n. 20 below),
although he may have said so In De b. vita, where even if he had
said Tlotini libros,' he might easily have meant Porphyry: cf. P.
Henry, Plotin et ^Occident (Louvain 1934) 154-63, for such an
instance. We may conclude with certainty that the works of
Plotinus exclusively are not meant. Libri pleni: cf. Cicero, Tusc.
L 1 L Cf. nn. 24, 26, 29, 63 below and nn. 10, 1 1, 61 to Book Three.
18 Possibly Aulus Cornelius Celsus (cf. Solil L 21; De haer. proL)
who lived under Tiberius and wrote an encyclopedia, the medical
part of which survives; cf. L. Schwabe, c Die Opiniones philoso-
phorum des Celsus/ Hermes 19 (1884), 385-92, and A. Dyroff,
'Der philosophische Teil der Encyclopadie des Cornelius Celsus/
Rhein. Mus. 8"8 (1939) 7-18. M. Schanz, 'Ueber die Schriften des
Cornelius Celsus/ Rhein. Mus. 36 (1881) 369-71, and P. Courcelle,
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 177
Les lettres grecques en Occident (Paris 1948) 178-81, maintain on
the other hand that Celsinus of Castabala, the author of an en-
cyclopedia of philosophy, which may have been translated into
Latin, is referred to.
10 Bonos res Arabicas: bonae res is a usual expression for costly
things or articles of luxury, a meaning further strengthened here by
the addition of Arabicas: cf. Plautus, Pers, 4. 3. 46; Capere urbem
in Arabia plenam bonarum rerum* Cf. A. Otto, Die Sprichworter
und sprichwortlichen Redensarten der Romer (Leipzig 1890) 33 f.
20 Paucissimas: cf. De b. vita 4: *lectis autem (Plotini) paucis-
simis iibris,' which refers to the same event. Henry, op. cit. 89,
regards the reading Plotini as certain. It is probable, but not cer-
tain. Cf. C. Boyer, Christianisrne et neo-platonisme dans la forma-
tion de saint Augustin (Paris 1920) 80 n. 1.
21 It is interesting to note the reference to this motive here. See
Intro. 2 A, where the question of Augustine's worldly ambitions is
emphasized. Cf. also A. f. Festugiere, *Les themes du Songe de
Scipion,' Eranos (Melanges Rudberg 1946) 376 f. See nn. 22, 23,
25, 26 below for other instances of correspondence between the
Confessions and the Contra Academicos.
22 p rorsus totus in me cursim redibam: see n. 9 to Book One. Ct
Conf. 7. 16: 'et inde admonitus redire ad memetipsum, 3 and n. 12
above. On this see also the final note in the volume immediately
preceding the present (ACW 11  270 n. 7) on Gregory the
Great's constant stress on 'return to self,' and self-examination. See
n. 21 above.
23 Itaque titubans, properans, haesitans arripio apostolurn
Paulum: cf. Conf. 7. 27: 'Itaque avidissime arripui venerabilem
stilum spiritus tui et prae ceteris Apostolum Paulum 3 ; 8. 29: 'Itaque
concitus redii in eum locum . . .; Ibi enim posueram codicem
Apostoli. . . . Arripui, aperui et legi. . . , The verbal correspondence
between the three accounts is close. See n. 21 above.
24 Huic tanto bono: that is, the teaching of the Platonist books.
It is clear from the context that Augustine feared to find something
in the Scriptures in conflict with the doctrine of the Platonists that
so struck him. Why did he immediately scrutinize St. Paul? The
answer may be that he knew that Porphyry had attacked the
Christians, and especially St. Paul, in his famous polemic Against
the Christians. Augustine certainly knew this work some years
later (rf. De cons. Evang. L 23, 24 (A. D. 399), Epist. 75. 6; 82. 22;
De civ. Del 19. 23) and could have known it in 386. A. DyrofFs
view, *Zum Prolog des Johannes Evangeliums,' Pisciculi (Festschrift
Dolger, Miinster 1939) 88 f., that Augustine had read a transla-
tion of Porphyry's attack on the Christians, which indicated a cor-
respondence between Neo-PIatonism and the prologue of St. John,
and had in this way been led to Christianity, may not be as far
from the truth as Courcelle thinks (op. tit. 165); cf, n. 103 to the
Intro. It is more likely, however, that Porphyry's De regressu
animae or some other books of his may have had this effect. If this
is true and the evidence of the present study points in this direc-
tion (see nn. 26, 29, 63 below, and 10, II, 61 to Book Three) -then
the influence of Porphyry on Augustine at this juncture was para-
mount and decisive.
25 Knoll and Jollvet read castissime, 'most uprightly, religiously,'
for cautissime, "most carefully*; Conf. 8. 29 has /egi in silentio, and
a little earlier: intentissimus cogitare coepi.
26 Tune vero quantulocumque iam lumine asperso, tanta se mihi
philosophiae fades aperuit. . . . That is, the reading of St. Paul
helped rather than hindered his understanding of what he had read
in the Platonist books. He says the same thing in the Confessions
8,29: 'Statim quippe cum fine huiusce sententiae quasi luce
securitatis infusa cordi meo, omnes dubitationis tenebrae dif-
fugerunt 9 ; 7.21: 'Inveni quidquid iliac, (that is, in the Platonist
books) verum legeram, hac (that is, in the Scriptures) cum com-
mendatione gratiae tuae did.'
In going on to explain how the Scriptures helped his understand-
ing of the doctrine which he found in the Platonist books, he lets
us see that Porphyry must have been one of the Platonists if not
in fact the Platonist of greatest importance herewhose books he
read. For he says (Conf. 7. 13 ff.) that the Platonists, even though
their language was not always accurate, recognised the Father and
the Son, but because of their pride, they would not believe in the
Incarnation. They saw the fatherland whither they should travel,
but failed to see the way. This became a favourite theme with
Augustine, and we have irrefutable evidence from the City of God
that tke Platonist most in his mind when he referred to this theme,
was Porphyry. This will be most easily seen by placing the texts
from the Confessions and the City of God side by side:
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two
Conf. 7. 13 ff.
(13) Ibi (that is, in the Plato-
nist books) legi non quidem his
verbis (that is, in the words of
the Scriptures; cf. 8. 28: *Et non
quidem his verbis, sed in hac
sententia. . . .') sed hoc idem
omnino multis et multiplicibus
suaderi rationibus quod in prin-
cipio erat Verbum. ... (14) Sed
quia Verbum caro factum est . . .
non ibi legi. . . . Cothurno tan-
quam doctrinae sublimioris elati
non audiunt dicentem: 'Disci te
a me. . . . Obscuratur insipiens
cor eorum; dicentes se esse
sapientes stulti fiunt. . . .
(27) Et aliud est de silvestri
cacumine videre patriam pacis
et iter ad earn non invenire. . . .
(26) In quos me ... voluisti
incurrere, ut . . . distinguerem,
quid interesset inter . . . videntes
quo eundum sit, nee videntes
qua, et mam ducentem ad beati-
ficam patriam non tantum cer-
nendam sed et habitandam.
The identity of the theme in general and in detail is unmistak-
able. Porphyry is expressly, emphatically, repeatedly, and almost
solely associated with this topic which recurs alone and in conjunc-
tion with other themes again and again throughout Augustine's
works: cf. O'Meara, art. cit. 334 ft
In the City of God there is an added element which is always
associated in Augustine's mind with Porphyry: not only pride
prevented him from recognizing the Incarnation, but also his in-
terest in demonology. Note for instance: *. . . a quibus (theurgis)
De civ. Dei 10. 29.
Praedicas (Augustine is address-
ing Porphyry explicitly) Patrem
et eius filium, quern vocas pa-
ternum intellectum seu mentem.
. . . Ubi, etsi verbis indisdplina-
tis utimini (cf. 10. 23, and 24:
c noluit [of Porphyry] intellegere
Dominum Christum esse prin-
cipium, cuius incarnatione purg-
amur. Hum quippe in ipsa carne
contempsit . . . ea superbia non
intellegens . . .;' cf. also 19. 23;
22.25), videtis (of Porphyry
and other Platonists) . . . quo
nitendum sit, sed incarnationem
. . . qua salvamur . . . non vultis
agnoscere. . . . Videtis . . * pa-
triam in qua manendum est, sed
viam qua eundum est non tenetis.
curiositate deceptus Ista pernidosa et Insana . . . didiclsti* (10. 26),
and *. . . elque (utinam) te potius quam . . . pernidosissimae
cunositati sanandum tutius commisisses 5 (10.27; cf. also 31.32).
That Porphyry Is thus certainly behind the scenes in the C. Acad.,
is corroborated not only by an echo of this topic in 3. 13, but also
by an examination of 3. 38-42. See nn. 32, 34, 49 to Book One;
10, IT, 24 above; 29, 63 below; and nn. 10, 11, 61 to Book Three.
There are also possible echoes of Plotinus 1. 6. 4, 5 and 7 in this
passage. E.g. fi philosophiae facies' and ow^poowjs srpooxoTrov (4),
s amator et sanctns mirans anhelans aestuans advolaret* and
$</*/?os Kal KirXr)w r$la.v KOL woOov KOLL p<ora KO! irroricnv /**$" ^$ow;?, etc. (4,
7), 'erumpere nitens tortuose ac deformiter inter scabra vitiorum*
and aKoAcwrros re *cat aSiKos . . . <j>pQVOv<ra. . . . Ovyra KO! rcuretva, crKoAta
mxvTaxou (5), in veram pulchritudinem' and cpav aA^?/ Ip^ra (7),
*eius incognitae fame* and rw ^v p-fato IBovn opiyt&Qai (7), and
finally 'eminere 5 and irpo<f>aivoL (5). See also nn.~ 11, 14, 15 to Book
One; 8 above; and nn. 3, 61 to Book Three.
27 We know nothing of this adversary. But see the Intro. 2 F.
28 A fashionable resort near Naples, often mentioned by the clas-
20 Later, in Retract. 1. 1.3, Augustine commented rather severely
on this section; 'But in the second book that so-called allegory
about Philocalia and Philosophia is wholly inept and silly. I said
that they were "sisters, born of the same father." Actually, the so-
called Philocalia either is concerned only with trifles, and, there-
fore, can in no way be considered as a sister to Philosophy; or, if the
name is to be honoured because, when translated, it means "love of
beauty," and the beauty of wisdom is the true and highest beauty,
then in things that are immaterial and highest Philocalia is
exactly the same as Philosophia, and in no way can they be, so to
speak, sisters.' The Greek noun <f>iXoKaXia in this meaning is not well
attested, but is found in Diodorus Siculus 1. 51. The verb <t>i\oKa\lv
(= 'to love the beautiful') is found in Thucydides in a famous
connection (2. 40), but on the whole it did not have a wide circula-
tion in classical times.
The present passage is to be compared with one from the
Soliloquies in order to yield further evidence of Augustine's ac-
quaintance with Porphyry at this time:
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two
C. Acad. 2. 7.
Sed ilia (Philocalia) vlsco libidi-
nls detracta caelo suo et inclusa
cavea popular! viciniam tamen
nominis tenuit ad commonen-
dum aueupem, ne illam contem-
nat. Hanc igitur sine pinnis
sordidatam et egentem volitans
libere soror (Philosophia) saepe
agnoscit, sed raro liberal; non
enim philocalia ista unde genus
ducat agnoscit nisi philosophia.
. . . De nullo desperandum est,
de talibus autem minime; om-
nino sunt exempla. Facile evadit,
facile revolat hoc genus avium
multis inclusis multum mirant-
Penitus esse ista sensibilia fugi-
enda, cavendumque magnopere
dum hoc corpus agimus, ne quo
eorum vlsco pennae nostrae im-
pediantur, quibus integris per-
fectisque opus est, ut ad illam
lucem ab his tenebris evolemus:
quae se ne ostendere quidem
dignatur in hac cavea inclusis,
nisi tales fuerint ut ista uel
effracta vel dissoluta posslnt in
auras suas evader 'e.
CL De vera rel. 7 (a text which
for other reasons we connect
with Porphyry. See n. 61 to
Book Three) : *. . . cum istis
sordibus viscoque revolare.' CL
also De TWn. 4. 15 (again a
Porphyrian text. See n. 61 to
Book Three) : *. . . qui non pos-
sunt ad evolandum pennas nu-
In Retract. 1. 4. 3 Augustine makes a remark about this passage
from the Soliloquia which he might equally well have made about
the passage from the Contra Academicos: 'Et in eo quod ibl dictum
est, penltus esse ista sensibilia fugienda, cavendum fuit ne
putaremur illam Porphyrii falsi philosophi tenere sententiam, qua
dixit, omne corpus esse fugiendum. 3 This remark needs careful
interpretation, but it implies this much at least, that Augustine at
the time of writing the Soliloquia and, therefore, the Contra Aca-
demicos, knew Porphyry's view separately and precisely, and very
probably knew it as Porphyry's (Courcelle, op. cit. 167, interprets
this remark in our favour but too much so, and with too little
hesitation). The phrase, omne corpus esse fuglendum > is attributed
over and over again by Augustine to Porphyry: cf. De civ. Dei,
10. 29; 12. 27; 13. 19; 22. 12, 26; Serm. 241. 7 (five times), 8. See
nn. 32, 34 and 49 to Book One; nn. 10, 17, 24, 26, 63 to Book Two;
and nn. 10, 11, 61 to Book Three.
30 A sample of his poetry, 154 hexameters of rather bombastic
quality, survives in certain old manuscripts of St. Augustine's
letters, under Epist. 26; cf. O. Bardenhewer, Geschlchte der alt-
kirchlichen Literatur 4 (Freiburg i. Br. 1924) 500; ACW 9.210f.
32 The De vera religion, whidb was either already prepared or
projected at this stage, but was not published until 389-390. See
Augustine's letter to Romanianus, Epist. 15. 1.
83 We know nothing about this Lucilianus. He is mentioned also
in Epist. 5 (Nebridius to Augustine) and 10. 1 (Augustine to
84 Matt 7.7.
35 Nam modus procul dubio divinus est: see n. 13 above.
36 Note the wordplay *. . . dies ita serenus effulserat, ut . . .
serenandis animis nostris congruere videretur. 9 Further on in this
section we again have more wordplay: *. . . ut cum mea mensa
secura sit' In 17, again, we have *. . . ista fundere potius quam
effundere.* Augustine was fond of such wordplay.
87 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 1.45.
38 Cf. im; also 2. 59, 66.
39 Zeno of Cyprus (ca. 335-ca. 263 B.C.) was founder of the
Stoic school at Athens, whither he came in 313. Cf. H. von Arnim,
Stoicorum veterum fragmenta 1 (Leipzig 1921) 3-72; Cicero, Acad.
1. 7, 18, 35, 42, 44; 2. 16, 66, 71, 76 ff., 113, 126, 129 ff. See n. 17 to
40 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 1.40, 41; 2. 18, 34, 40, 77, 83. Such per-
ceptions were called 'irresistible': KaraA^nrueat <j>avTavi<u ; cf. R.
Hirzel, Untersuchungen zu Ciceros philosophischen Schriften 2
(Leipzig 1882) 183 iff.
41 Cf. Cicero, ibid. 2. 14, 55, 116 ff., 147.
42 Cf. ibid. 2. 81, 82.
48 Cf. ibid. 2. 47 3 48, 51 ff., 88 ff.
44 Cf. ibid. 2. 45, 46, 49, 92, 94, 96, 147.
48 Of. ifett 2, 25, 39, 62, 108.
46 Cf. ibid. 2. 32, 99, 100,110.
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK Two 183
40 She took no part In the discussions of the C. Acad., but in the
De b. vita (27) her contribution to the debate is praised by
50 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 13 L For the view that there was no dif-
ference between the New and the Old Academy, cf. ibid. 1. 13, 46.
Cf. iKd. 1.16, 44; 46.
52 Cf. ibid. 2. 59.
53 Arcesilas (Arcesilaus) of Pitane (ca. 315-241/40 B. C.) as head
of the Academy so vigorously opposed the dogmatic teaching of
the Stoics on the grounds that their 'irresistible* impressions (cf.
n. 40 above) could be misleading, that he was regarded as found-
ing the New Academy. He left no writings. Cf. Cicero, Acad. L 44;
K. O. Brink, 'Arcesilaus' (1), OCD 79.
54 Philo (Philon) of Larissa (160/159 - ca. 80 B. C.) became head
of the Academy in 110/9, and came to Rome in 88 (cf. Cicero,
Brut. 306), where he had many illustrious hearers, among them
Cicero. Cf. Cicero Acad. 1. 13; 2. 11, 17, 18, 32, 78; K. O. Brink,
'Philon' (3), OCD 684.
55 Antiochus of Ascalon (ca. 130/120 - ca. 68 B. C.) was a pupil
of Philo, and later his opponent, and also came to Rome in 88. He
was the head of the Academy at Athens in 79-78, where Cicero and
Atticus attended his lectures. He insisted in his teaching that the
Academic, Peripatetic, and Stoic philosophies were fundamentally
one. Cf. Cicero, Acad. 1. 7, 16-24, 29, 31 ff., 35; 2. 16 if., 20, 30, 37,
49, 123, 126, 131 ff.; W. D. Ross, 'Antiochus' (10), OCD 61.
56 That is, especially Cicero's Academica; cf. 3. 45.
57 This episode may appear somewhat strange to the modern
reader. Augustine deliberately introduced the reference to Ro-
manianus. We must believe, then, either that he wished to cause
pain to Licentius, or and this is much more likely, and favouring
the view that the Dialogues are not historical he sought some
rhetorical effect. Augustine was a rhetorician and is capable of
rhetorical flourishes which may have been acceptable in his time,
but which now strike us as being bizarre indeed. Of course, one
must always keep in mind differences in temperament in different
ages and different countries.
68 Virgil, Aen. 11.424.
59 Virgil, Aerc. 4.173 f., 181 f.
60 Cf. Cicero, In Verr. act 1. 34 f.
61 Satis sit quod cum istis adulescentibus praelusimus, ubi libenter
noliscum philosophia quasi iocata esf. Cf. the excellent parallel in
Plato, Theaet. 168e. See n. 151 to the Intro.
62 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 65.
88 This was later subjected to the following criticism Retract
1. 1. 3: c ln another place, when I was dealing with the question
of the spirit, I spoke of it as "safer in its return to heaven." It
would have been safer for me to say "go" instead of "return," be-
cause there are those who think that human spirits in punishment
for their sins have fallen from, or have been cast out of, heaven
and are forced to enter lowly bodies. But I did not hesitate to put
it that way, because I used the expression "to Heaven," as much
as to say, "to God," who is its author and maker. In the same way
the blessed Cyprian did not hesitate to say (De Dom. Orat. 16):
"For, since we have our body from the earth, and our spirit from
Heaven, we ourselves are earth and Heaven." And in the Book of
Ecclesiastes it is written (12.7): "Let the spirit return to God,
who gave it." And this must, of course, be understood in such a
way as not to come into conflict with the Apostle when he says
(Rom. 9. 1 1 ) that those who are not yet born have done neither
good nor evil. Beyond question, therefore, God Himself is a cer-
tain first home uf the spirit's happiness. He did not, indeed, gen-
erate it from Himself, but neither did He make it from anything
else, as, for instance, He made the body from the earth. For, as
regards its origin how it comes about that it is in the body;
whether it has its beginning from him who was first created, when
man was made into a living soul; or whether in the same way for
each individual an individual soul is made this I did not know
then, nor do I know now. 5
The expression, rediturus in caelum, reminds one of Porphyry's
De regressu animae; but cf. Cicero, Tusc. L 24. On the Platonic
and the Neo-PIatonic doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul, see
Augustine's exposition in De civ. Dei 12. 26; also 11. 23 and Epist.
166 (to Jerome), 17. See nn. 32, 34, 49 to Book One; nn. 10, 17, 24,
26, 29 to Book Two; and nn. 10, 11, 61 to Book Three.
64 Virgil, Aen. 8.441.
65 Acutissimis ac doctissimis viris: cf. 3.42, acutissimi et sol-
lertissimi ufn, and Epist. 1 18. 33, acutissimos et sollertissimos; see
3. 42 and notes ad loc.
66 See 2. 29 and 3. 38-42.
67 Cf. Cicero, De fin. 2.39; De leg. 1.53; De or at. I All also
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 185
Plato, Phaedo 9Ia; Rep. 539c; Soph. 237b; Theaet. 164c - 166b 5
68 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 60.
* Cf. ibid. 2. 12.
70 Cicero, ibid. fir. 19 (Miiller).
71 Cf. Cicero,iW2.71.
72 Cf. ibid. 2. 65.
1 See n. 3 to Book One.
2 Daedalus was a legendary artist and craftsman to whom many
inventions were attributed. He is said to have devised two pairs
of wings on which he and his son Icarus were to escape imprison-
ment on Crete by flying to Sicily. The father succeeded, but Icarus
perished in the Aegean Sea when he ventured too near the sun
and the wax of his wings melted. Cf. Ovid, Met. 8. 183-235.
3 If we compare the text which follows (a) with texts from the
Confessions (b) and the City of God (c), the similarities which
may be observed seem to indicate that in all these instances there
are reminiscences of a Plotinian passage extracted below. We thus
have further testimony that at the time the present work was writ-
tenthe year 386 -Augustine knew something of Plotinus. The
passages in Augustine follow:
a) C. Acad. 3. 3 (386). b) Conf. I. 28 (ca. 400).
Nam ut sine navi vel quolibet Non enim pedibus aut spatiis
vehiculo aut omnino, ne vel locorum itur abs te (i.e. deo)
ipsum Daedalum timeam, sine aut reditur ad te, aut vero filius
ullis ad hanc rem accommodatis ille tuus equos aut currus vel
instrumentis aut aliqua occulti- naves quaesivit aut avolavit
ore potentia Aegeum mare nemo pinna visibili aut moto poplite
transmittit, quamvis nihil aliud iter egit. . . . Ibid. 8. 19: Et non
quam pervenire proponat, quod illuc (i.e. ad deum) ibatur navi-
cum ei evenerit, ilia omnia, qui- bus aut quadrigis aut pedibus.
bus advectus est, paratus sit ... Nam non solum ire, verum
abicere atque contemnere. . . , etiam pervenire illuc nihil erat
aliud quam velle ire. . . . Cf. also
Enarr. in Ps. 149. 5.
c) De civ. Dei 9. 17 (cc 415).
Ubi est illud Plotini, ubi ait: fugiendum est igitur ad carissimam
patriam, et Zu pater, et ibi omnla*? 'Quae igitur, 3 inquit, 'classis,
aut fuga? 3
The corresponding passage in Plotinus is found in 1. 6. 8:
>? ; . . . Harpl? $?? T^
Kozl irarfyp occt. Tis ow o crroAos KO! ^ <f>vyy ', Ov TTOCTL Bel Stawcrat .... ouSc crc
o^/xa ^ rt ^aAarrtov Trapacrxcvao-Gt, aAAa rawa Travra a<f>ivai $i
. , . See nn. 11, 14, 15 to Book One; 8 and 26 to Book Two; and
n. 61 below.
4 Quarum rerum in sapiente quidam habitus inest, earum est in
studioso sola flagrantia. Augustine had asked what the difference
was between the 'sapiens* and the 'philosophus.* In his reply
Alypius equates 'studiosus' ('sapientiae') with 'philosophus/ for
which see Cicero, Tusc. 1.1. 'Habitus' corresponds to the Greek
*&*: cf. Cicero, De inv. 1. 36; 2. 30.
5 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 112: 'cum sit enim campus in quo exultare
possit oratio*; Tusc. I. 73.
6 A mountain in Boeotia, Greece, sacred to the divine inspirers of
poetry, Apollo and the Muses. On it were the springs Aganippe
and Hippocrene, the latter of which, legend states, sprang forth
when the rock was struck by Pegasus' hoof; hence Augustine's
reference to Licentius' thirst being slaked by Helicon.
7 Virgil, Ed. 3. 104-107.
8 Baths were a favourite place for philosophical discussion, so
that here Augustine suggests that they should symbolize the proper
attitude in which one should hold such discussion.
e Cf. Cicero, Acad. 1. 45.
10 Proteus was a sea-god about whom there are varying accounts.
The one most relevant to the present text is to be found in Homer,
Od. 4. 63 ff., and Virgil, Georg. 4. 387 ff. He is a seer, but will not
give men the benefit of his gift unless he is forced to do so. When
he is captured, he uses the ruse of changing his form into a lion or
panther or dragon s or even into fire or water, and thus escapes as
his captor, utterly surprised or frightened, relaxes his grip. The
secret is^to hold him firm through all his transformations until he
resumes his natural shape; he is then resigned to give the requested
information. Thus, according to Homer, the wandering Menelaus,
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 187
having been briefed by Proteus' own daughter, Eidothee, succeeds
in obtaining prophetic advice from the god concerning his home
journey. Similarly, following Virgil's account, Apollo's son
Aristaeus, prompted by his mother Gyrene, forces Proteus to advise
him on the loss of his bees and how to obtain a new stock. For
further references to the Protean legend in classical and Christian
literature, cf. A. Otto, Die Sprichworter und sprichwortlichen Re-
densarten der Romer (Leipzig 1890) 289.
*Investigatoresque eius numquam eundein tenuisse nisi Indice
alicuiusmodi numine'; cf. 3. 42: 'animas . . . caecatas . . . numquam
ista ratio . . . revocaret, nisi summus deus. . . .* The parallelism
in the words is also found in the meaning. Only a god could reveal
Proteus and truth. The God in question was Christ; cf. 3. 13 and
3. 42. Augustine probably got the idea of the necessity of a Christ
from Porphyry; for he says repeatedly in the City of God that
Porphyry was looking for such a principium the *rnind of the
Father* and had not found it, although he had considered (and
rejected) Christ; cf. De civ. Dei 10.23, 24, 28, 29, 32. Proteus
occurs again in De ord. 2. 43, and also in De civ. Dei 10. 10, where
Porphyry is very prominent. Cf. nn. 32, 34, 49 to Book One; nn. 10,
17, 24, 26, 29, 63 to Book Two; and nn. 1 1, 61 below.
11 This is the same theme as referred to in the previous note and
in 3. 42. The phrase further down, "deceived by false representa-
tions,' falsis imaginibus deceptus, reminds one of the phrase
curiositate deceptus, used of Porphyry in De civ. Dei 10. 26. Cf. also
De Trin. 4. 13; 13. 24; Conf. 7." 15; De vera rel. 7; De b. vita 3.
12 Cf. Cicero, De am. 20.
13 Augustine's lung and throat trouble had been one of the
reasons given by him for his resignation from his rhetorical office
at Milan: cf. especially Conf. 9. 4. On Augustine's state of health
and its influence on his thought, cf. B. Legewie, 'Die korperliche
Konstitution und die Krankheiten Augustins,' Miscellanea Agosti-
niana 2 (Rome 1931) 5-21; for his weightier reasonsphilosophic
and religious for resigning, see C. Boyer, Christianisme et neo-
platonisme dans la formation de saint Augustin (Paris 1920)
14 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 64.
15 Cf. Cicero, Acad. l.fr;20 (Mfiller). }. S. Reid, M. Tulli
Ciceroni's Academica (London 1885) 167 n. 34, refuses to follow
Halm in accepting as a quotation from Cicero that part of the fr.
which Is given in section 16, on the grounds that 'it has so few
genuine traces of Cicero's style/
ie The Cilician Chrysippus (ca. 280-207/6 B.C.) attended the
lectures of the Academic Arcesilas and those of the Stoic Cleanthes,
whom he succeeded as head of the Stoic school. He was celebrated
for his dialectical acumen and wrote countless works (705 accord-
ing to Diogenes Laertiusl), which were regarded as enshrining
orthodox Stoicism. Cf. K. von Fritz, 'Chrysippus/ OCD 188; for
Zeno, cf. n. 39 to Book Two.
17 Epicurus (342/341 - 271/270 B. C.), founder of Epicureanism,
was born of Athenian parents, probably in Samos. After learning
philosophy in various centres and from various masters, he came
to Athens in 306, to found there his own school which was con-
ducted in a garden (K^TTO?) that he had bought; hence his school
was known as 'the Garden,' just as the school of his great con-
temporary, Zeno (cf. n. 39 to Book Two), was referred to as e the
Porch' (area, hence 'Stoic'), because it was in a porch a kind of
public hall or colonnade that he held his philosophical discus-
sions: cf. n. 39 to Book Two. Epicurus had a large band of devoted
followers, among whom were some women, and led a simple and
harmonious life in his community until his death. A few of his
many writings are preserved. Epicureanism has traditionally been
regarded as an unworthy philosophy inasmuch as it was under-
stood to consider material pleasure as the greatest good, but it has
in recent times received a more sympathetic treatment than hereto-
fore. Cf. A, J. Festugiere, Epicure et ses dieux (Paris 1946).
18 The Greek cloak or mantle (t/wmov, 'pallium') was the dis-
tinctive dress of philosophers. They were often mocked for this by
Christian writers; cf., e.g., Tatian, Or. ad Graec. 25. 1; Minucius
Felix, Oct. 38. 6; Augustine, De civ. Dei 14. 20. The philosophers
also favoured heavy beards cf. Arnobius, Adv. not. 6. 21, and the
passages from both pagan and Christian writers listed ad loc. by
G. E. McCracken, ACW 8. 599 n. 150. The Cynics (see following
note) carried a staff also.
19 The Cynics ( KWKOI ) derived their name either from Antisthenes
(ca. 455 - ca. 360 B. C.) whom some scholars regard as the real
founder of the sect, and who taught at the gymnasium Cynosarges
outside Athens; or from Diogenes of Sinope (ca. 400 - ca. 325 B. C.),
pupil of Antisthenes and more usually regarded as the founder of
Cynicism, who was called *dog' (*iW: hence, xwticot) because he
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 189
flouted all convention and cultivated shamelessness. There was no
organized Cynic school or doctrine, but, nevertheless, there were
very many Cynics in the third century B. C, and later in the East
and in Rome from the first to the sixth century A. D. See D. R.
Dudley, A History of Cynicism from Diogenes to the 6th Century
A.D. (London, 1937).
20 That is, the Academy, a gymnasium in the suburbs of Athens
and named from the hero Academus, who was also called by some
Hecademus (cf. Diogenes Laertius 3.9), a name derived from
ocas + %ju>$ = 'far from the people, 5 'stranger*; hence Augustine's
21 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 112.
22 Cf. Virgil, Aen. 8. 190 ff., where the semihomo is Cacus, a fire-
breathing, predacious monster, living on the Palatine Hill. When
he stole some of the cattle of Geryon, Hercules slew him in his cave.
28 Democritus of Abdera (ca. 460-370 B. C.) is commonly asso-
ciated with the atomic theory, which, however, he took over from
his master, Leucippus. He was wealthy, travelled, and so learned
that he was given the name Wisdom.' Practically nothing survives
of his numerous works. Epicurus incorporated in his own system
much of the atomism of Democritus. Cf. A. J. D. Porteous,
'Democritus,' OCD 266 f.
24 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 55.
25 Declinare: this refers to the distinctive contribution of the
Epicureans to the atomic theory. Instead of moving in a straight
line as Democritus heldthe atoms, according to Epicurus, swerve.
This does away with determinism and leaves room for free will.
The world itself results from the countless collisions of atoms mov-
ing and falling in ever-changing directions. Lucretius (2. 292) calls
this swerve clinamen (Trapey/cAwm ) . Cf. Cicero, De fin. 1. 17-21;
De nat. deor. L 69.
26 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 66, 115.
27 Augustine now divides the contents of philosophy into physics
(cosmology), ethics, and dialectics (logic). The division is tra-
ditional: cf. Cicero, Acad. L 19; 2. 116; De or. L 68.
28 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 91, 97; De nat. deor. L 20 f.
29 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 47 f., 51 ft, 88 ff.
30 Cf. ifciU2.93.
31 Refraction, in the case of an oar dipped in water, and the
examples adduced in the following of the changing colours of, a
bird's neck and of a tower apparently in motion were stock objec-
tions made by the Sceptics against the dependability of sense per-
ception. Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 19, 79 (oar and dove's neck), 81;
Lucretius 4. 438 f. (oar); Seneca, Quaest. not. 1. 3. 9 (oar), 1. 5. 6
(peacock's neck), 1.7.2 (dove's neck). For further passages, cf.
J. S. Reid, op. cit. 269.
82 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 105.
38 A minor philosophic school founded by the elder Aristippus of
Gyrene (/L ca. 400-365 B. C), pupil of Socrates. He taught that
pleasure of the senses is the highest good and the end of life. His
teaching was carried on by his daughter Arete and his grandson
Aristippus the Younger.
85 Cf. ibid. 1. 30-32. The Platonists are referred to.
86 In Retract. 1. 1.4, Augustine quotes this sentence and remarks:
*It would have been more true if I had said "in God." For the mind
enjoys Him as its greatest good, so that it may be happy.*
37 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2.51.
40 That is, a 'Greek' trick, arte Pelasga-d. Virgil, Aen. 2. 106,
41 See in De b. vita 3 the picture of the huge mountain of vain
ambitions that menaces those who would enter the narrow channel
leading to the harbour of philosophy.
42 Hortensius fr. 100 (Miffler) : cf. Acad. 2. 66, 115.
48 Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 25, 39, 62, 108.
44 Cf. Conf. 4. 2.
45 Samardafojcus: a conjurer, trickster, juggler, charlatan,
sharper, vagabondapparently an African word. It recurs in the
Acta S. Quirini Mart. 5, and is also found in Greek: see John
Chrysostom, In Epist. ad Ephes. horn. 17. 3. Cf. Du Cange, in both
the Latin and the Greek GZossanum, s.v.; also A. Souter, A Glos-
sary of Later Latin (Oxford 1949) s.v.
46 Regarding this oath (for the formula, cf. Terence, Eun. 331),
Augustine expresses his regrets in Retract. 1.1.4: 'I am sorry also
for the statement, "I am prepared to swear by all that is holy." *
The Saint often adverts to the habit of swearing (cf. the note by
J. C. Plumpe in ACW 5. 190 n. 137) and states in a sermon
(180. 10) that he was very much addicted to it in his youth.
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 191
47 Cf. Sallust, In Cat. 20.
48 Non quid sciam, sed quid existimem; see Intro. 3, and n. 73 to
the Intro. The theory which he is about to advance is referred to
by him repeatedly but never with confidence: cf. C. A cad. 2. 1, 14,
23, 24, 29, 30; 3. 12, 14, 38, 43; Epist L 3: Illud magls peto dill"
gentius consideres mihique rescribas, utrum approves quod in ex-
treme tertii libri suspiciosius fortasse quam certius, utilius tamen,
ut arbitTor, quam incredibilius putavi credendurn. See also Epist.
118. 20 (A. D. 410), and Conf. 5. 19. There Is no relevant evidence
in favour of Augustine's view; cf. E. Zeller, Die Philosophic der
Griechen 3. 1 (4th ed. Leipzig 1903) 508-510; Hirzel, op. dt.
3. 216 ff.; V. Brochard, Les sceptiques grecs (Paris 1887) 115-8;
Van Haeringen, op. dt. 100-110; Jolivet, op. eft. 213 n. 27; E.
Brehier, Histoire de la philosophic (Paris 1927) 1. 348-85. See n. 2
to Book Two and nn. 49, 53, 61 below.
49 For this meaning of consilium, cf. also Epist 118. 20: eorum
(Platonicorum) quidem consilium, which J. G. Cunningham
(NPNF l.ser. 1.445) mistranslates 'nature of their teaching,'
Similarly, the manuscript reading of Epist. I. I, Dei veri artem,
does not need emendation. The providential concealment of their
doctrine by the Academics was an ars Dei; cf. O'Meara, art, cit. 342.
50 They formed a religious-political society founded at Croton by
Pythagoras (see the following note). It became almost extinct in
the second half of the fifth century B. C. s but was revived soon
afterwards, especially at Tarentum, only to become practically
extinct again at the end of the fourth century B. C. This society,
which had male and female followers, devoted itself to asceticism
and mathematics. A famous Pythagorean was Archytas of Taren-
tum, known to have been visited by Plato about 387 B. C. See
H. Diels, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (5th ed. Berlin 1934) L 96-
51 Pythagoras, son of a cameo cutter, was born about 570 B. C. on
the island of Samos. The most learned man of his time, he exerted
great influence for many centuries. Besides being an eminent
mathematician, astronomer, and reputed discoverer of the theorem
named after him, he was a religious reformer, as is evidenced by his
founding of a religious sect (see previous note). As a philosopher
he differed from his predecessors in that he was not satisfied with
explaining the phenomena of nature, but sought to establish from
nature, its cosmic order and harmony, norms of human behaviour.
He saw in number a mysterious force that controls the entire cosmos
and pervades all the activities of men. He also believed in metemp-
sychosis, regarding the body (<r%a) as the temporary tomb (o%ta)
of the soul. It is doubtful if he put down anything in writing. Cf.
Diels, op. eft. I. 96-113, 440-80; J. Burnet, Early Greek Philosophy
1: Thales to Plato (London 1914) 80-112, 276-309.
52 Pherecydes of Syros (or Syra, one of the Cyclades Islands)
was a mythologist and cosmologist who lived in the first half of the
sixth century B. C. The ancients regarded him as the earliest
writer of Greek prose and the first to compose a work on philosophy.
Cf. Diels, op. cit. 1. 43-51.
58 ... pro mysteriis custodita. It was a widespread fashion in Hel-
lenistic times to attribute secret doctrines to philosophical sects. The
idea easily arose from such texts as Plato, Phaedo 62b, Phaedr.
275d~78c, Theaet. 152c-55c, 180bc, Tim. 28c (tr. by Cicero: cf. his
Timaeus fr. 11), Epist. 2.312d, 313c, 314a; 7.341c, 344c; Ocellus
Lucanus, Text und Kommentar ed. R. Harder (Berlin 1926) 40 ff.
Numenius of Apamea wrote a work entitled, On the Secret Doc-
trines in Plato. Galen states as a matter of course that Plato held
two opposing sets of doctrines; cf. 4. 757 (Kuhn). The same was
said of Aristotle: cf. Galen, loc. dt. Something similar was also
said of Speusippus (Diog. Laert. 4.2) and Menedemus (Diog.
Laert 2. 135). Plotinus, Herennius, and Origen are supposed to
have made a pact not to reveal the teachings of Ammonius
(Porphyry, Vita Plot 3). Clement (Strom. 5.9.57) and the
Gnostics of Alexandria made great use of secret doctrines. When
it was brought to the notice of lamblichus that he was credited
with a secret teaching, he said: 'The compliment is gracious, but it
is not so' (Eunapius, Vit. soph.). Cf. Cicero, Acad. 2. 60, and also
Nock and Festugtere, CH 13. 200, 203 and n. 3, 206, 215 and n. 62,
Asclepius 297, 341, 357 and n. 10, 390 and n. 289; Festugiere, 'Le
"Logos" hermetique d'enseignement/ REG (1942) 55, 85 f. See
n. 73 to the Intro.; n. 2 to Book Two; and nn. 48, 49 above, and 61
54 Polemo (Polemon) of Athens was converted from a dissolute
life by Xenocrates whom he succeeded as head of the Academy,
which he guided from 314 (313?) to his death in 270 B. C. Cf.
Zeller, op. eft. 2. 1.9931
55 St. Augustine disapproved of this in Retract. 1. 1.4: 'I like-
wise regret what I said of the Academics, namely, that they knew
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 193
the truth, the likeness of which they were wont to call "what-is-
like-truth," and also that I said that that "what-is-like-truth,"
which they approved of, was not true. What I said was wrong for
two reasons; first, that I said that that which was in any way like
any truth was not true, because this, in its own degree, is indeed
true; and second, that I said that they approved of those things
that were not true, which things they were wont to call ts what-is~
like- truth": they actually appproved of nothing and affirmed that
the wise man approved of nothing. But since they also called
"what-is-like-trath" the "probable," it came about that I spoke
thus of them/
56 Cf. n. 55 to Book Two.
57 Cf.n. 17 above.
58 Cf . n. 54 to Book Two.
50 Metrodorus of Stratonicea (ca. 150-71 B.C.) from being an
Epicurean became a follower of Carneades. He so hated all Romans
that he entered the service of Mithridates the Great of Pontus. Cf.
Diogenes Laertius 10. 9; Cicero, De orat. 1. 45, 2. 360, 3. 75; Tusc.
60 A pupil of the great Stoic Panaetius (ca. 185-109 B. C).
61 In the remainder of this and in the following section Augus-
tine outlines for the first time a master theme which is at once a
chief interest of the C. Acad. and recurs again and again throughout
his works. Parts of this theme have already been mentioned in the
C. Acad. for example, the concealment of their true teaching by the
Academy (see 2. 29; 3. 38) and the necessity for the help of a deity
before one can receive truth (3. 11, 13). Here the theme is fully
developed. For a complete understanding of all the various parts
of this theme and for its full significance as w^ell as for some light
on its provenance and personal importance for Augustine, one
must examine other instances of its occurrence. The one most
closely approximating to the present one is that found in Epist.
118. 17-33 (A. D. 410). The passage is too long to quote, but here
is a summary:
The pre-Christian Platonists, Augustine writes, knew the truth
of a spiritual God, but had not sufficient authority to impose that
truth on the masses who were blinded by love of earthly things and
enthralled by the flesh. Accordingly, they concealed their own
opinions, and contented themselves with arguing against the
Epicureans and Stoics. Augustine does not know what their plan
was, but he remarks that the controversy between the Platonists
and their opponents persisted until the coming of Christ, at whose
command the truth which the Platonists feared to publish was im-
mediately believed. There was no such controversy now. The
Platonists had changed such of their opinions as Christian teaching
condemned, and submitted to Christ in accepting the Incarnation.
Augustine mentions especially the school of Plotinus at Rome. In
this school were men of great acuteness and ability. But some of
them were corrupted by curious inquiries into magic. Others
accepted the Incarnation. Therefore the supremacy of authority
and light of reason were joined together in Christ and His Church.
If the texts are placed side by side, their mutual relationship
C. Acad. 3.41-43.
(41) Adeo post ilia tempora (sc.
Ciceronis) non longo intervallo
omni pervicada pertinaciaque
demortua, os illud Platonis . . .
dimotis nubibus erroris emicuit,
maxime in Plotino. . . .
(42) Itaque nunc philosophos
non fere vidimus nisi aut Cy-
nicos aut Peripateticos autHato-
nicos. . . . Quod autem ad
eruditionem doctrinamque atti-
net et mores, . . . quia non
defuerunt acutissimi et soller-
tlssimi viri, qui docerent dispu-
tationibus suis Aristotelem ac
Platonem it a sibi concinere . . .
multis quidem saeculis multisque
contentionibus, sed tamen eli-
quata est . . . una verissimae
philosophiae disciplina. Non
enim est ista huius mundi phi-
losophia, quam sacra nostra
meritissime detestantur, sed al-
tering intelligibilis, cui animas
Epist. 118. 17-33.
(21) Demonstratum errores gen-
tium . . . durasse . . . usque in
tempora Christiana. . . .
(33) Cum iam Christi nomen
. . . crebresceret.
(21) Quos (errores) iam certe
nostra aetate . . . obmutuisse
(33) Emergere coeperant ad
proferendum atque aperiendum,
quid Plato sensisset.
(33) Tune Plotini schola Romae
floruit habuitque condiscipulos
multos acutissimos atque soller-
tissimos viros. . . .
(20) Eo rem successione tem-
porum esse devolutam. . . .
(19) (Platonici dicebant) id
solum vere esse, atque id solum
posse percipi, quia incommuta-
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE
bile et sempiternum est, precipi
autem sola intellegentia. , . .
(17) Non valentes ill! auctori-
tate turbas terrenarum reram
dilectione caecatas ad invisibil-
ium fidem ducere . . . anlmo . . .
purgato ab omni lobe humana-
rum cupiditatum. . . .
(20) . . . Platonic! . . neque
docerent earn! deditos . . . donee
ad eum habitum perduceretur
animus quo Ista capiuntur
(17, cf. 20) Omnibus enim de-
fuit divinae humilitatis exemp-
lum quod . . . per Dominum
nostrum lesum Christum in-
lustratum est. . . .
(33) Platonici . . . non habentes
divinam personam, qua impera-
rent fidem. . . .
(20, cf. 17) Platonici . . .
elegerunt occultare sententiam
(33) Sententiam suam tegere
quaerendam quam polluendam
proferre maluerunt . . . Itaque
totum culmen auctoritatis lu-
menque rationis in illo uno salu-
tari nomine (sc. Christi) atque
in una eius ecclesia recreando et
reformando humano generi con-
It is manifest that these two texts refer to the same topic. While
it is certain that Plotinus is the one Platonist whose name is men-
tioned in Epist. 1 18, it is equally certain that Porphyry is the Plato-
nist meant above any other. For the reference is not to Plotinus
multiformibus erroris tenebris
caecatas et altissimis a corpora
sordibus oblitas numquam ista
ratio subtilissima revocaret, nisi
summus deus popular! quadam
dementia divini intellectus auc-
toritatem usque ad ipsum corpus
humanum declinaret atque sub-
mitteret, cuius non solum prae-
ceptis sed etiam factis excitatae
animae redire in semetipsas et
respicere patriam, etiam sine
disputationum concertatione po~
(43) Hoc mihi de Academicis
interim probabiliter, ut potui,
persuasi. . . . Ait enim (Cicero)
illis morem fuisse occultandi
sententiam suam nee earn cui-
quam, nisi qui secum ad senectu-
tem usque vixissent, aperire con-
suesse. . . . Mihi ergo certum
est nusquam prorsus a Christi
auctoritate discedere. . . . Quod
autem subtilissima ratione per-
sequendum est ... apud Plato-
nicos me interim quod sacris
nostris non repugnet reperturum
but to his school and disciples. There can be no hesitation in saying
that Porphyry was the disciple of Plotinus. It is to be noted that
the very same adjectives, acutissimi et sollertissimi, are applied to
these disciples in C. Acad. as well as in Epist 1 18. Porphyry, then,
as in some other places of the C. Acad. (see nn. 32, 34, 49 to Book
One; nn. 10, 17, 24, 26, 29, 63 to Book Two; and nn. 10, 11 above),
is behind the scenes here too. In any case, we have further evidence
on this point. When Augustine says in Epist. 118, 33 that some of
the disciples of Plotinus were corrupted by curious inquiries into
maglcmagicarum artium depravatiwe are certain that he is re-
ferring mostly to Porphyry. For in De civ. Dei 10. 24-32 he ex-
plicitly accuses Porphyry, and Porphyry alone, of this (cf. also
De Trin. 4 13-15; 13.24; De doctr. Christ. 2.40; De vera rel. 7;
De ord. 2. 27). Moreover, in De civ. Dei 10. 24-32 Augustine deals
with the topic outlined in the passage from C. Acad. and Epist. 118
which we have been comparing, and Porphyry is the Platonist
emphatically associated with the topic (cf. the association of the
universalis via with Porphyry: the phrase occurs twenty times in
the Porphyrian De civ. Dei 10. 32). Finally, the same passages,
from the City of God and Letter 118 deal also with the topic (which
is part of the present one) outlined in Conf. 7. 13 ff., which we have
connected with C. Acad. 2. 6 (see n. 26 to Book Two) and which
also supposes that Porphyry is in question.
From the comparison, then, of texts from the De civ. Dei, Epist.
118, Conf., and C. Acad. we get a full idea of a view which much
occupied Augustine all his life. Its occurrence in the C. Acad. is
of particular importance and significance, for it at once lets us see
how he thought of Neo-Platonism (or Platonism as he called it) vis-
a-vis Christianity, and which Platonist played the vital role in his
conversion. In brief, the full topic is as follows:
The Platonists believed in the Father and the Son, but were con-
vinced that the mass of men were incapable of receiving this true
spiritual doctrine, unless the Son of God came to impose an au-
thoritative way for them. They had not discovered such an
authority as yet, and, consequently, in order to save the masses
from believing in Stoic materialism, the Platonists taught (in pre-
tence) that no teaching whatever could be trusted, since nothing
could be known. Augustine, for his part, and some of the Plato-
nists, had accepted Christ as the Son of God and the way of au-
thority for the masses. Others of the Platonists had refused to
AGAINST THE ACADEMICS: BOOK THREE 197
believe in Christ, because of His Incarnation and His death on the
Cross. Their pride and dealings in demonology had prevented
them from seeing the truth. Now, however, the Platonists could
teach their real doctrine: for men now knew not only where to go
(to their Fatherland), but how to go (through Christ). The syn-
thesis of Christianity and Platonism gave a way that was both one
of faith (authority) and reason. The first step on this way, a c
Augustine had experienced in his own case, was the acceptance o'
the Incarnation. Through it one grew strong enough to learn the
truth. According to Augustine himself, Porphyry had suggested
most of these ideas to him.
Apart from the texts already mentioned, this topic is dealt with
at great length in De vera religions 7 (A. D. 386-390), where some
of the objections against Christianity made by Porphyry are dis-
cussed (cf. also De civ. Dei 10.32; Episf. 75.6; 82.22; 102.8; De
Trin. 4. 13-15 [A. D. 400-416]; De quant an. 76 [A. D. 388];
Solil. L 2, 6, 23, 24; De ord. 2, 16, 27).
From all this it clearly emerges that Augustine in 386 accepted
Christianity without reservation and in opposition to the Neo-
Platonist, Porphyry, who had most helped him, perhaps, at this
stage. At the same time he looked to Neo-PIatonism for help in the
understanding of problems (see 3*43). And, finally, Porphyry
played an important, if not actually a vital, part in his conversion.
Cf. O'Meara, art. cit. 331-43. See n. 73 to the Intro.; n. 2 to Book
Two; and nn. 48, 49, 53 above.
62 The followers of Aristotle. The IlepwraTos was the covered
gymnasium or walking place where Aristotle discussed philosophy.
83 Cf. Cicero, Acad. L 17, 18, 22, 23.
64 Acad.fr. 21 (Miffler).
65 Quae sit autem ista, deus viderit; cf. Cicero, Tusc. L 23: quae
vera sit, deus aliqui viderit.
66 Cf. De ord. 2. 16, 25, 27, Augustine in a number of texts from
the time of the C. Acad. sets forth his views on the relations, as he
then conceived them, between authority and reason. He was very
interested even to excess, as he says (Epist. 3. 3; De ord. 2. 44, 50;
Solil. L 8) in the findings of reason. There is sufficient evidence
to show that when he was writing the C. Acad. he believed: 1) that
authority could dispense entirely with reason (cf. C. Acad. 3. 11,
13, 42; De ord. 2. 16, 26, 27, 46); 2) that authority aided by reason
was more desirable than authority alone (cf. De ord. I. 32; 2. 16,
26); 3) that reason depended on some authority so that it might
begin to operate (cf. De ord. 2.26; Solil. 1. 12-15); and 4) that
reason could arrive at an understanding of everything taught by
authority. The last item may cause some surprise, but, neverthe-
less, it is found in many texts, and especially in the De libero
arbltno (388-391/395) 2.5f.:
'Quamquam haec inconcussa fide teneam, tamen, quia cognltione
nondum teneo, ita quaeramus quasi omnia incerta sint. . . . Nisi
enim aliud esset credere, et allud intellegere, et primo credendum
esset, quod magnum et divinum intellegere cuperemus, frustra
Propheta dixisset: "Nisi credideritis, non intellegetis." Ipse quoque
Dominus noster et dictis et factis ad credendum primo hortatus est,
quos ad salutem vocavit. Sed postea cum de ipso dono loqueretur,
quod erat daturas credentibus, non ait: "Haec est autem vita
aetema ut credant" sed, "Haec est," inquit, "vita aeterna ut cog-
noscant. . . " Deinde iam credentibus dicit: "Quaerite et in-
venietis"; nam neque inventum dici potest, quod incognitum
creditur; neque quisquam inveniendo Deo sit idoneus, nisi ante
crediderit quod est postea cogniturus. . . .'
Cf. also C. Acad. L3; 3.43; De ord. 2. 16; 44: "Eruditi nomine
dignissimus non temere iam quaerit ilia divina non iam credenda
solum, verum etiam contemplanda, intellengenda atque retinenda 5 ;
50; SoliL 1.8, 12, 15; Epist. 3.3. Augustine believed that there
could be no conflict between the true conclusions of reason (which
always depended upon God for illumination) and the authority
of Christ: both were guaranteed by the same author, God. They
were independent, but co-ordinated approaches to the same end.
There was no question of subordinating the one to the other. And
while the way of faith and authority was infallible and indis-
pensible, that of reason perfected that of authority. It is in the
light of these principles that we should judge his attitude towards
Christianity and Neo-Platonism. The one was always right; the
other, often. He himself could see that the conclusions of 'reason'
and Neo-Platonism were not always the same (see nn. 6 to Book
One, and 61 above).
67 Regarding this and similar passages (2.24, 3.37), Augustine
remarked in Retract. 1.1.4: 'Rightly, too, am I displeased with the
praise with which I so exalted Plato and the Platonists, or Aca~
BOOK THREE 199
demic philosophers, as should never have been done In the case of
impious men especially since Christian doctrine has to be defended
against their great errors.*
68 That is, Cicero's Academlca.
69 Again Augustine corrected himself, Retract. I. 1.4: 'Further,
as regards my statement that my own arguments were trifling in
comparison with those used by Cicero in his books about the Aca-
demics: I, in fact, refuted his arguments with most cogent reason-
ing; and, though what I said was said by way of a joke and is, of
course, ironical, nevertheless I should not have said it.'
Academics, 63 f ., 73 ff., 77 ff., 82,
85, 97, passim; doctrine, 2,
7, 14-18, 76 ff., 136, 183;
policy, 65, 143 ff., 175, 191,
196; position, 78 ff., 95, 109,
114f., 122 ff.
Academy, place, 189; Old, 14,
79, 80, 148, 183; New, 80, 183;
Aegean, 99, 185
Africa, 8, 12
Albicerius, 54-60, 63
Alexander the Great, 173
Alexandria, 49 f., 192
Alfaric, P., 20, 22, 156, 157, 158,
Altaner, B., 161
Alypius, llf.,39f., 73, 157
Ambrose, St., 9 f.
De Noe et area 92: 170
anima and animus, 169. See soul
Antiochus, 16, 80, 147 f., 183
Antisthenes, 165, 188
Apollo, 186 f.
appearance, 125 f.
Apuleius, Met. 6. 25 ff.: 166
Arcesilas, 15, 115, 120 f., 144-
146, 183, 188
Archytas of Tarentum, 191
Aristippus of Gyrene and Aristip-
pus the Younger, 190
Aristotle, 149, 159, 165, 192, 194,
Eth. End, 1217b.22: 170;
Eth. Nicom. 1097a.21: 176;
1102a. 26: 170; Metaph. 994b.
9, 996a.26: 176; 1076a.28:
170; Pol 1278b.3I: 170;
Arnim, H. v., 172, 182
Arnobius, Adv. nat. 6. 21: 188
Artemidorus of Ephesus, Qneir-
assent, 76 f., 79 f., 109 ff., 122,
128, 134 ff.
astrology, 57 5 173
Athens, 15, 182 f., 188, 192
atomic theory of Democritus, 189
augurs, 57, 173
Augustine, St., events of life up
to 386 A.D., 4-11, 67 L, 150;
debt to Romanianus, 67 ff.;
ambition of, 2, 4 ff., 38, 68, 70,
177; interest in philosophy, 7,
38, 68 f.; interest in divination,
7; belief in dreams, 10; a Ma-
nichee, 38, 156; moral and
intellectual difficulties, 10;
troubled by the arguments of
the Academics, 2, 88; weak
health, 10 f., 38, 114, 187; fear
of death, 10; conversion, 69 f.,
176 f., 196 f.; and Neo-Pla-
tonism, 19, 22, 176f.; debt to
Plotinus, 22 (see Plotinus);
debt to Porphyry, 22 (see
Porphyry) ; synthesis of reason
(Neo-Platonism) and author-
ity (Christianity), 22, 148 ff. s
170, 196 1; differs from Neo-
Platonists, 169; knowledge of
Greek, 161; differs from the
Academics, 89, 96, 103; refuta-
tion of the Academics, 113 ff.,
139 ff.; theory of a secret doc-
trine in the Academy, 90, 95,
113, 143 ff., 147 ff., 159, 191,
195 (see secret doctrine)
Conf. 6, 13, 19 ff., 23 1, 32,
167.-1. 14, 19, 261: 155;
1.28: 185 f.; 2.5f., 8: 155;
3.6-8: 155; 3. 71: 165; 3. 9 f.,
19: 156; 4. If.: 156; 4. 2: 190;
4.3-6, 20-23, 27: 156; 4.29:
157; 5.3, 10-14: 156; 5.19:
191; 5,221: 156; 6: 157;
6.3 ff., 9: 157; 6. 18: 155,157,
165; 6.19: 157; 6:24: 157,
176; 7.8-10: 156; 7. 13 ff.:
161, 176, 178 ff., 196; 7.15:
187; 7.16: 177; 7.19: 170;
7.21: 178; 7.26: 176; 7.27:
177; 8.1: 176; 8.3: 161, 176;
8.17: 155, 165; 8.19: 185;
8.28: 179; 8. 29: 176 ff.; 9.4:
187; 9. 7: 163 1; 9. 27: 157
C.Acad.,2L, 9, 11, 13, 165;
and Cicero's Academica, 14-
18; importance, 181, 21, 23;
form, 28-32; historicity, 23-
32, 166 f. (see Dialogues of
Cassiciacum, below). 1. 1:
165, 169, 198; 1.3: 157; 1.4:
157, 163, 1651; 1.6: 1661;
1.7: 158; 1.8: 1571; 1.9:
169; Lll, 151: 166; 1.22:
169; 1.24: 166; 1.25: 157,
166; 1.45: 182; 2.1: 165, 191;
2.3: 1561; 2.41: 157; 2.6:
196; 2.7: 181; 2.8: 157, 165;
2.10-14: 166; 2.11, 12: 158;
2.14: 191; 2. 17: 157,166,182;
2.191: 157; 2.22: 1571,
1651, 169; 2. 23: 191; 2. 241:
166, 191, 198; 2.25: 166;
2.25-29: 157; 2.26: 158;
2.27: 164; 2.291: 159, 166,
170, 184, 191, 193; 2. 30: 166,
191; 2. 59, 66: 182; 3. 3: 1851;
3.4: 166; 3. 6: 157; 3. 10: 158;
3.11: 193, 197; 3.12: 191;
3.13: 180, 187, 193, 197; 3. 14:
158, 166, 191; 3. 14-16: 158;
3. 15: 164, 1661; 3. 18,22-36:
158; 3.37: 198; 3.38: 1691,
191, 193; 3. 38-42: 180, 184;
3.41: 1581, 1611; 3.41-43:
194; 3. 42: 184, 187, 197;3.43:
158, 160, 170, 1751, 191, 198;
3.44: 166; 3.45: 1571, 167,
C. Petil. 3.25: 157; 3.30:
156 f.; De b. vita, 3, 9, 24 ff.,
32, 176.- 1: 165, 169; 3: 187,
190; 4: 155, 161, 169; 5: 156,
169; 6: 157, 166; 8: 157, 169;
14: 164; 151, 18: 166; 27:
183; 29: 157; 34: 175; 35: 167,
171, 176; 36: 167; De civ. Dei
9. 10: 162; 9. 17: 186; 10: 161;
10,2: 162; 10. 10: 187; 10. 14:
170; 10. 231: 179,187; 10.24-
32: 196; 10.26: 180, 187;
10.27: 180; 10.29: 179, 181,
187; 10.31: 180, 187; 10.32:
180, 187, 1961; 11.2: 162;
11.23: 184; 12.21: 162;
12.26: 162, 184; 12.27: 181;
13. 19: 162, 181; 14.20: 188;
18. 23: 173; 19. 22: 162; 19. 23:
162, 178 L; 20.24 and 22. 3:
162; 22. 12: 162, 181; 22.25-
28: 162, 179; 22.26: 181; De
cons. Evang. 1.231.: 178; De
doctr. Christ. 2.40: 196; De
haer. proL: 176; De lib. arb.
2.5L: l9S;Deord., 3,9, 25 i,
30L-1. If., 4: 170; 1.5: 166;
1.6f.: 157; 1.8: 151, 167,
170; 1.10: 164, 167; 1.11, 13:
167; 1. 14: 164, 166; L 16:
166 f., 197; L 17, 19: 1661;
1.20: 157, 166; 1.26f.: 166;
1.28: 167; 1.29ff.: 166; 1.30:
164; 1.31: 156, 164; 1.32:
197; 1.33: 166; 2. 1 f.: 164,
169; 2.6: 169; 2.7: 166 f.,
169; 2. 12: 167, 170; 2. 16:
197 f.; 2.17: 164, 166 f., 169;
2.19: 169; 2.21: 166; 2.23-
52: 167; 2.24: 169; 2.251.:
197 f.; 2. 27: 160, 196 L; 2. 28:
157; 2. 30 f., 35, 38, 41 f.: 169;
2.43: 187; 2.44: 169, 1971;
2.46: 169, 197; 2.47L: 169;
2.50: 169, 197; 2. 51: 170; De
pulchro et apto, 7; De quant.
an. 76: 175, 197; De Trin.
4 13: 187; 4. 13-15: ' 196 f.;
4. 15: 181; 13.24: 187, 196;
15. 21 : 158, 164; De util cred.
2. 156; De vera re/., 14, 73,
182.-7: 181, 187, 196 f.; 12:
Dialogues of Cassiciacum,
3ff., 111., 19, 167; form, 28-
32; historicity, 23-32, 166L,
183; order, 3, 25 f.; correspond-
ence with Confessions, 21,
176 f., 179; points in common
with Plato's 7th Epist. 165
Hnarr. in Ps. 149.5: 185;
Enchir. 7: 164; 20: 158; Epist.
I: 164; 1.1: 158, 191; 1.3:
191; 2. 1: 170; 3.3: 197 L;
3.4: 169; 5: 182; 6. 1: 161;
7. 2 and 8. 2: 169; 10. 1: 182;
15. 1: 157, 182; 26: 157, 182;
27 and 32: 157 f.; 75.6 and
82.22: 178, 197; 102.8: 197;
118: 196; 118. 17-33: 193 &.;
118.20: 191; 118.33: 184,
196; 162.2: 163; 166. 17: 184;
Retract. proL, 28, 164; 1. L 1:
2, 158; 1. 1.2: 164, 168, 1711;
1.1.3: 164, 180, 184; 1.1.4:
2, 190, 192, 198 f.; 1.2:24,27,
32, 163 f., 167; 1.4.3: 181;
1.9: 164; Serm. 180. 10: 190;
24L7f.: 181; 356.3: 157;
SoZiJ. 3, 20, 25.-1. 2: 171,197;
1.6: 197 f.; 1.7: 169; 1.8:
197; 1.9: 161; 1. 12-15: 198;
L 17: 155; 1.21: 176; 1.23:
197; 1.24: 181, 197; 2.3-5:
169; 2,23: 157, 169; 2.27:
169; 2.28: 164; 2.31-33, 35:
Ausonius, 8, 156
authority, auctoritas, 22, 150,
195 flf. See synthesis
Bardenhewer, O., 157, 182
baths, 107, 186
Bauto, 9, 157
beauty, 70 f .
Bible, the, 6, 10, 174. See
Bidez, J., 162
Bindemann, C., 25, 163
body, the, 30, 45, 61, 67, 172,
Boissier, G., 19, 159
Boll, R, 173
Bousset, W., 164
Boyer, C. 9 21, 160, 163, 177, 187
Brehier, R, 161, 191
Bret, T., 21, 160
Brink, K. O., 183
Brochard, V., 191
Burnet, J., 192
Carneades, 15, 43, 65, 76, 93,
116, 122 ff., 146 f., 172, 193
Carthage, 5 ff., 11 f., 54, 67
Cassiciacum, 3, 11 ff., 19, 31
Celsinus, 69, 176L
certitude, 93. See perception
chance, 35 f., 57, 66, 168. See
Christ, 16, 18, 66 f., 74, 150, 175,
178,187, 194 ff. See Son
Christianity, 22, 148 ff., 170, 178,
Christians, 162, 174, 177 f.
Chrysippus, 114, 122, 146, 188
Chrysostom, St. John, In Epist.
ad Ephes. horn. 17.3: 190
Church, the Catholic, 10, 20, 22,
Cicero, M. T., 15 f., 18, 30, 43 ff.,
62 f., 65, 87, 92, 114ft, 136,
169, 187 L, 192, 194 f., 199
Academic^ 14-18, 151, 158,
199.-1.7: 182f.;l. 13, 16-24:
183; L 17: 197; L 18: 182,
197; 1.19: 189; 1.22L: 197;
1.29: 168 ff., 183; 1.30-32:
190; 1.31ft: 183; 1.35, 40-
42: 182 L; 1.40-42: 158; 1.43-
46: 172; 1.44: 182, 183; 1. 45:
158, 186; 1.46: 183; 2.11:
183; 2. 12: 185; 2. 14: 175,
182; 2. 16: 1821; 2. 17: 183;
2.18: 158, 172, 175, 182 f.;
2.19: 190; 2. 20: 183; 2. 24 f.:
158; 2.25: 182, 190; 2.27:
173; 2.28: 158; 2.30: 183;
2.32: 182 L; 2.33ff.: 158;
2.34: 182; 2.36: 173; 2.37:
183; 2.39: 182, 190; 2.40:
182; 2.45: 182, 190; 2.46:
175, 182; 2.47!.: 182, 189;
2.49: 182 f.; 2.51ft, 55: 182,
189 f.; 2. 59 L: 158, 183; 2. 60:
158, 185, 192; 2. 62: 182, 190;
2.64: 187; 2.65: 175, 184 L;
2.66: 158, 172, 182, 189 L;
2.71: 182, 185, 190; 2.73:
182; 2. 76 ff.: 182; 2.77: 158,
182; 2.78: 183; 2.79: 190;
2.81: 190; 2.81-83: 182;
2.88ff.: 182, 189; 2.91: 158,
189; 2.92: 182; 2.93: 189;
2.94: 182, 190; 2.96: 182;
2.97: 189; 2. 98: 158; 2. 99 f.:
182; 2. 105: 190; 2. 108: 182,
190; 2.110: 182; 2.112: 186,
189; 2. 113: 182; 2.115: 158,
189!.; 2. 116: 182, 189; 2. 123:
183; 2. 126: 182 f.; 2. 127: 171;
2.129ft: 182; 2.131: 183;
2. 139: 168; 2. 147: 182; fr.
16: 172; fr. 19: 185; fr. 20:
114f., 149 f., 187;fr.21: 159,
Ad Alt. 4. 16.2: 165; Brut.
306: 183; De am. 3, 5: 166;
20: 112, I87;Dediv. 1. 12 and
2.26: 173;Defato4: 159; De
/m., 165.-1. 2: 175 f.; 1.17-21:
189; 2.2: 159; 2.39: 184;
2.40: 170; 2.102: 167; 4. 80:
167; De inv. 1.36 and 2.30:
186; De leg. 1.53: 184; De
not. dear. 1. 20 L, 69: 189; De
off. 2.5: 173; 2. 8: 159; 3. 44:
170; De orat, 165.- L 45: 193;
1.47: 184; 1.68: 189; 1.84:
159; 2.360: 193; 3.67: 159;
3.75: 193; 3. 80: 159; De sen.
71: 170; Hortensius, 6, 10, 39 9
105, 136, 156, 165; fr. 36: 171;
fr. 100: 136, 190; fr. 101: 43,
172; Tim. fr. 11: 192; Tusc.
1.1: 172, 186; 1.8: 159; 1. 11:
176; 1.23: 197; 1.24: 184;
1.59: 193; 1.65: 170; 1.73:
186; L 107 1: 170; 2.9: 159,
166; 4. 57: 173; 5. 38, 70: 170;
Verr. 1.34L: 183; 2.2.118:
Claesen, A., 156
Claudian, Paneg. M. Theod.
Cleanthes, 165, 188
Clement of Alexandria, 165
Strom. 5. 9. 57: 192
colours, changing, 128, 130,
Cornelius, Romanianus, 14
Courcelle, P., 156, 161 f., 176 ff.,
Cumont, R, 173
Cunningham, J. G., 191
Cyclades Islands, 192
Cynics, the, 116, 148, 188 9 194
Cyprian, St., De Dora. Oral. 16:
Cyrenaics, the, 129
Cyrene, mother of Aristaeus, 187
Daedalus, 100, 185
definition, process of, 53
Demetrius of Phalerum, 174
Democritus, 124, 189
demons, daemones, 30, 58 f., 174,
179 f., 196
dialectics, logic, 131 ff., 143. See
dialogue, as a literary form, 28-
Diels, H., 191 f.
Dill, S., 156
Diodorus Siculus, I. 51: 180
Diogenes Laertius, 188
2.135: 192; 3.9: 189; 4, 2:
192; 10. 9: 193
Diogenes of Sinope, 188
disjunctive propositions, 120 f.,
divination, 56, 58 ff., 173
divine, spirit, 170
Dodds, E. R., 159, 161 f,
Dokkum, T., 163
dove's neck, colour of, 128, 130
dreams, 57, 63, 77, 131
Drewniok, P., 158
Dudley, D. R., 189
Dyroff, A., 176, 178
Egypt, monks of, 10
end of man, 46
Epicureans, the, 147, 193
Epicurus, 114L, 124, 140, 165,
error, 47ft, 63, 76, 136, 138,
140 ff.; of senses, 77, 128 ft
ethics, 130 L, 143, 189
Vit. Soph., 192
faith, 150, 176, 195 ff. See au-
Father, 175, 178, 196. See God
fatherland, 1781, 186, 195-197
Festugiere, A. J., 155, 164 ff.,
167, 170, 173, 177, 188, 192
Flaccianus, 55, 58
Foerster, W., 174
fortune, 35 f., 57, 64, 66, 69,
98 ff., 168
Fritz, K. v., 188
Galen, 4. 757: 192
Garden, the (Epicureans), 115,
Garvey, M. P., 32
Gibb, J., 157
Gilson, K, 160, 169
Gnostics, the, 192
God, 35, 38, 45, 59, 61, 84, 1 10 ff.,
119, 123, 145, 149, 151, 169,
171, 175, 178, 184, 187, 190,
193, 196 ff. See Father, Son
Gourdon, L., 19, 160
Grace, 4, 17
Greeks, the, 71
Gregory the Great, St., 177
Gudeman, A., 162
Guitton, J., 164
Gundel, W., 173
habitus, 101 f., 186
Haeringen, J. H. Van, 23 ff.,
162 ff., 166 f., 191
Halm, C, 187
happiness, 37, 40 ff., 45 f., 61 ff.,
81,98, 114f., 171
Harder, R., 192
Harleianus, codex, 158
Harnack, A., 19
haruspices, 57, 173
Hatzfeld, A., 21, 160
Helicon, 105, 186
Henry, P., 22, 32, 162, 168, 176 f.
Hercules, 116,123, 189
Hermann, C. F., 164
Hermippus of Berytus, 174
Hierius, 7 f .
Hirzel, R., 23, 27, 162, 166, 182,
Holden, H. A., 173
Homer, Od. 4.63 ff.: 186
Hopfner, T., 174
hypothetical propositions, 132
lamblichus, 159, 192
Protr. 2. 56: 171
Incarnation, 17, 22, 149, 178 i,
intelligible world, 144, 149, 194
John, St., prologue of, 178
Jolivet, R., 32 1, 168, 178, 191
Kaibel, G., 31
KaraXrjprTiKal <f>avracriai , 182
Kavanagh, D. J., 33
Knoll, P., 26, 32, 174, 178
'know thyself,' 30
knowledge, 56, 84, 101, 129 f.,
Labriolle, P. de, 32, 163, 168
Lanciani, R., 12
Legewie, G., 187
Licentius, 6, II f., 14, 38 f., 71 L,
74, 105, 158, 164, 165, 167,
186; poetry of, 182
Liebenam, W., 157
Livy, 1. 56.41.: 173
logic, dialectics, 131 ff., 189
Loofs, S., 19, 159
Lucilianus, 73, 182
Lucretius, 2.292: 189; 4.438L:
Macrobius, Sat. 1.1.5, 6 and
1.6. 13: 166
Madauros, 5, 166
Mangenot, E., 174
Manicheism, 6 f., 10, 12, 73, 171,
Manichees, the, 6
Mar ini anus, 8
Martin, J., 21, 160
materialism, Stoic, 146
Mausbach, J., 21, 160
McCracken, G. E., 188
measure, modus, the highest
(that is, God the Father), 68,
mens, 169, 171, 175. See mind
Metrodorus, 147, 193
Milan, 3, 81, 11, 13, 187
mind, ratio, 41, 45 L, 171. See
Minucius 'Felix, Oct. 38. 6: 188
modus, summus, 1 75. See measure
Monacensis, codex, 158
monks, of Egypt, 10
Monnica, 4, 6, 10 f., 13, 78, 155,
Montgomery, W., 21, 157, 160
Muses, the, 186
mysteries, sacred, 144, 149 f. See
Naples, 140, 180
Navigius, 13, 40 f.
Naviile, A., 159
Neo-Platonism, 19-22, 148 f.,
156, 153. See Platonism
Neo-Platonists, 19, 159, 161. See
Nock, A. D., 155, 1651, 167,
Norregaard, J., 21, 160
Nilsson, M. P., 174
noterius, 24, 27, 29, 39, 114, 164,
j>oik , 169
Numenius of Apamea, 192
oar, refraction of, 128, 189
Ohlmann, D., 23 ff., 162 ff., 166
O'Meara, ]. J., 160, 176, 179,
opinion, 129, 136, 144
Otto, A., 177, 187
Ovid, Met. 8. 183-235: 185
Parisinus, codex, 158
Patricius, 4 f.
Patricius, nephew of St. Augus-
Paul, St., 10,70, 177 f.
Paulinus of Nola 9 13, 157 f.
Pease, A. S., 173 f.
Pelasgic, trick, 134, 190
perception, 79 f., 118, 120 ff.,
171 f., 182, 190
perfect man, the, 42 ff., 62
Peripatetics, the, 148, 183, 194,
Pherecydes, 143, 192
Philippson, R., 162
Philo(n),80, 147 f., 183
Philocalia, 71, 180 f.
philosopher, the, 101 f.
philosophers, dissensions among,
philosophy, 30, 66, 119, 143 f.,
149, 165, 180, 189
physics, 124 f., 143, 189
Pistis Sophia, 166
Plasberg, O., 158
Plato, 15, 17,30,79, 118, 1431,
146 ff., 1491, 159, 162, 164 f.,
1671, 169, 174, 1911, 194,
Apol 22a, b: 167; Charm.,
165; Cm*. 396dl: 167; 400c:
172; Epist. 2. 312d, 313c,
314a: 192; 7. 326e, 340c-e,
341a: 165; 7.341c: 170, 192;
7.344c: 192; Epm. 980cl:
166; 280a: 167; Gorg. 447a:
166; 493a: 172; Hipp. Mm.
365: 167; Ion542a: 167; Laws
888e: 167; Lysis, 165; 2141:
167; Menex 236bl, 246c,
249: 166; Phaedo, 165; 59cl:
166; 62b.: 192; 82e: 172; 91a:
185; 114bl: 172; Phaedr.
228a-c, 230e, 234d, 235d,
236c, e, 238c: 167; 242d, 243c:
166; 244, 260a; 167; 250c:
172; 262d: 166 f.; 263e: 166;
265a, 279b: 167; 275d-278c:
192; Phil, 165; Prot. 338a:
166; 347e: 167; Rep. 327 ff.:
166f.;539c: 185; Sz/mp. 173e,
174a, 175e: 166; Soph. 152c-
55c, 180b: 192; 217d: 167;
237b: I?5; Theaet. 143a-c:
166; 152b: 167; 164c-166b 9
167e, 169e: 185; 168e: 165,
184; 171cL: 167; Tim. 17b,
20e:, 166; 28c: 192
Platonism, 148f. See Neo-Pla-
Platonist books, 10, 69 S 157,
Platonists, the, 150, 193 ff., 196,
198. See Neo-PIatonists
Plautus, Pers. 4. 3. 46: 177
pleasure, as an end, 114 5 130,
Plotinus, 20, 22 L, 148, 157,
159 ff., 162, 169 f., 176 ff.,
185 f., 192, 194 ff.
Enneads, 161; 1.6: 161, 171,
175, 180, 186; 3. 2: 161, 170;
4. 3 and 5. 1: 161
Plumpe, J. C, 190
poetry, and philosophy, 112
Polemo, 144 , 192
Porch, the (Stoics), 114, 188
Porphyry, 22 f., 157, 159, 161 ,
176 ff., 181, 187, 192, 195 ff.
De regr. an., 161, 178, 184;
/sag., 157; Kara Xpicmai/wv,
162, 177 f.; Vita Plot. 2. 15:
167; other works, 161, 167
Portaiie, E., 21, 160
Porteous, A. J. D., 189
possession, by a deity, 30, 167,
Possidius, VitaS. August. I: 156
pre- existence of soul, 169
pride, 87, 178 f.
probable, the, 77 S 82, 84, 86, 89,
92 ff., 97, 102!., 134, 137 ff.,
Proclus, In Farm. L 659: 165
propositions, hypothetical, 132
Proteus, 110, 112, 186 f.
protreptic, the, 29, 165
Pythagoras, 143, 159, 191
Pythagoreans, 143, 191
reality, 125 f.
reason, ratio, 22, 150, 169, 176,
195ff. See synthesis
Reid, J. S., 158, 187, 190
Reitzenstein, R., 169
religion, 14, 70, 73, 112, 1491,
Remensis, codex, 158
return of the soul, 30, 67, 88.
Romanianus, 2, 6, 11 f., 13 f., 35,
64 ft, 72 f., 75, 82 , 85, 157 ,
Rome, 7 f., 11, 183, 194
Rose, H. J., 173
Ross, W. D., 183
Ruben, A., 156
Sallust, In Cat. 20: 190
samardafojcus, 138, 190
Saviour, the, 17. See Christ, Son
Sceptics, the, 190
Schanz, M., 156, 176
Schneweis, E., 174
Schwabe, L., 176
Scripture, 172, 178. See Bible
secret doctrine, 90, 95, 113,
143 ff., 147 ff., 159, 170, 192,
195. See Augustine
seers, 57, 174
Seeck, O., 156 f., 173
self, knowledge of, 35, 144, 170;
return to, 35, 61, 68, 70, 149,
174, 177, 195
Seneca, Epist. 14.1.5: 173;
Quaest. not. L 3. 9, 1.5.6,
and L 7. 2: 190
sense- perception, 127 ff., 190
senses, errors of, 77, 125
sensible world, the, 144, 149, 194
Severus, Sulpicius, Dial. 3. 17:
sin, 140 ff.
Socrates, philosopher, 79, 143,
165, 167, 190
Socrates, historian, Hist. Eccl.
6. 5, 7: 157
Son of God, the, 66, 196. See
soul, the, 145, 184; pre-existence,
169. See return of the soul
Souter, A., 156, 190
Spelmeyer, A., 160
Stoics, the, 17, 79, 114t, 144,
146, 148, 159, 173, 188, 193,
Stroux, J., 156
Symmachus, 8, 156
synthesis, of Neo-Platonism
(reason) and Christianity
(authority), 22, 150, 176, 178,
194, 1961 See reason, au-
Syra, Syros, 143, 192
Tacitus, Dial, 4
Tagaste, 4 ff., lit, 13 f.
Tatian, Or. ad Graec. 25. 1: 188
Terence, Bun. 331: 190
Theiler, W., 22, 162
Theodorus, Flavius Manlius, 8,
Thiaucourt, C, 158
Thimme, W., 19, 31, 160
Thucydides, 2.40: 180
Thulin, C. O., 173
Tillemont, L. S. le Nain, 26, 163
towers, moving, 128, 190
Trecensis, codex, 158
truth, 40 ff., 76 f., 80, 88, 95,
97 f., 144, 175
Trygetius, 12 f,, 39, 40 ff., 167
Tullius, 89, 113, 140, 142, 147 f.
Tuscan arguments, 107
uninitiated, the, 36
verbal controversy, 89 ff., 132
via univer sails, 196
Victorinus, Gains ML, 10, 157
Virgil, 53, 55, 74, 98, 186 f.
Aen. 1.401:52, 172; 2. 106,
152: 190; 4.1731, 181 ff.:
183; 8. 190 ff.: 189; 8. 370 ff.,
535: 175; 8.441: 88, 184;
9.312: 39, 171; 11.424: 84,
183; 12.739: 175; Catal
8. 170; Eel 3. 104-107: 107,
186; Georg. 4. 387: 186
virtue, 35, 1 14 f.
virtues, the cardinal, 57; the
Walzer, R. 5 165
Wendland, P., 165
c what-is-like-truth, 3 77, 80, 82,
85 f., 89, 92 ff., 97, 1371,
146 f., 193
Whittaker, T., 159
wisdom, 30, 35, 43 ff., 51 1, 54,
60 f., 63, 65, 71, 100, 124,
134 ff., 1431, 168, 170, 175
wise man, the, 42 ff., 62 ff., 76 L,
80, 97 ff., 101 ff., 106 ff.,
114ff., 118ff., 124, 129 ff,,
134 ff., 172, 186
Wissowa, G., 173
Worter, F., 21, 160
, 164, 166
Zeller, E., 191 f.
Zeno, 76, 79, 114f., 118, 120 L
1441, 182, 188
THE WORKS OF THE FATHERS IN TRANSLATION
I QUASTEN, S.T.U, and j. c. PLUMPE, PH. a
1. THE EPISTLES OF ST. CLEMENT OF ROME AND ST. IGNATIUS
OF ANTIOCH. Trans, "by JAMES A. KLEIST, S. J., PH.D. Pages x + 162,
2. ST. AUGUSTINE, THE FIRST CATECHETICAL INSTRUCTION.
Trans, by JOSEPH P. CHRISTOPHER, PH. D. Pages vi -f- 171. 1946.
3. ST. AUGUSTINE, FAITH, HOPE, AND CHARITY. Trans, by Louis A.
ARAND, S. S., S.T. D. Pages vi -f 165. 1947.
4. JULIANUS POMERIUS, THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE. Trans, by SR.
MARY JOSEPHINE SUELZER> PH. D. Pages vi -f 220. 1947.
5. ST. AUGUSTINE, THE LORD'S SERMON ON THE MOUNT. Trans.
by JOHN J. JEPSON, S, S., PH. D, Pages vi 4- 227. 1948.
6. THE DIDACHE, THE EPISTLE OF BARNABAS, THE EPISTLES AND
THE MARTYRDOM OF ST. POLYCARP, THE FRAGMENTS OF
PAPIAS, THE EPISTLE TO DIOGNETUS. Trans, by JAMES A. KLEIST,
S. J., PH. D. Pages vi + 235. 1948.
7. ARNOBIUS, THE CASE AGAINST THE PAGANS, Vol. I. Trans, by
GEORGE E. MCCRACKEN, PH.D., Pages vi -f- 372. 1949.
8. ARNOBIUS, THE CASE AGAINST THE PAGANS, Vol. 2. Trans, by
GEORGE E. MCCRACKEN, PH. D. Pages vi -f 287. 1949.
9. ST. AUGUSTINE, THE GREATNESS OF THE SOUL AND THE
TEACHER. Trans, by JOSEPH M. COLLERAN, C. SS. R., PH. D. Pages vi
10. ST. ATHANASIUS, THE LIFE OF SAINT ANTONY. Trans, by ROBERT
T. MEYER, PH. D. Pages vi + 155. 1950.
11. ST. GREGORY THE GREAT, PASTORAL CARE. Trans, by HENRY
DAVIS, S. J., B. A. LOND. Pages vi + 281. 1950.
12. ST. AUGUSTINE, AGAINST THE ACADEMICS. Trans, by JOHN J,
O'MEARA, PH. D. Pages vi -f 213. 1950,