and 5th Century RPF: St Augustine, Confessions
Prompt: Written for Tevere
in Yuletide 2012
Notes: I'm sincerely grateful to tazlet,
who suggested both more Alypius and Homoiousios / Homoousios, and to
my redoubtable colleague Richard W, canon beta.
Saint Augustine never refers by name to the mother of his son Adeodatus,
but I couldn't keep calling her X. I've named her Ena, from the Greek,
I'm also really grateful to T.+Nielsen+Hayden, over on AO3, who provided
the link to the Durer etching you'll see at the end of this story.
The Very Secret
Diaries of Saint Augustine
Mother gave me Latin bible. Discovered Christians believe in talking
snakes, bushes and pillars of fire. Also do not know the name of their
prophets grandfather and cannot spell. Suspect believers to be
both illiterate and superstitious. Told Father. Mother angry. Re-read
Hortensius instead, Cicero v. soothing.
Carthage. Discovered Plato, also girls. Think Father may have had a
point. Had horoscope taken, predict will be famous, rich and celibate.
Disaster. Stars lied. Ena pregnant.
Discovered new religion. Have become Manichee. Solves all problems!
All living things duality of good and evil. Wine v. bad. Melons and
cucumbers v. good. Lower half body evil: top virtuous. Instructed to
abstain sex, procreation also evil and forbidden to higher initiates.
Find this thought most attractive, cannot thus be blamed for behaviour
of lower half.
Ena not pleased. Also, still pregnant.
Wrote book on moral beauty of being alone and evils of pluralism. Ena
gone to visit sister, taking Adeodatus with her, has not come back.
Find house lonely.
Feel may regret writing book.
Milan! Have had new business tablets cut Professor of
Mother came too.
Mother and Ena quarrelled. Mother intent on society wedding, wants grandchildren.
Also, Ena does not speak Latin. Said, Adeodatus excellent son and Enas
Greek fine. Mother said, not if you want to make something of yourself,
Aurelius Augustine of Thagaste.
Fish merchant laughed at accent. Students sniggering in back row. Bought
new toga (expense distressing), arranged elocution lessons.
Sent Ena back to Carthage.
Mother ecstatic. Also, have one promising student. Hands in homework
on time, also excellent nose and noble brow.
Bed v. cold, but lower half of body still evil. Ergo, did not resist
professional young lady at baths: found sex without affection stimulating
However, have made appointment for following week.
Missing Ena. Must have looked miserable picked up by citizen
in forum. Turned out to be fellow academic, also Christian. Most enjoyable
exchange if a little messy, although cannot understand why otherwise
intelligent fellow follows such childish story-telling. Agreed to attend
readings. Curious. More importantly, have discovered new religion! Toes
no longer evil, but part of great chain of being. Have returned to taking
baths. Mother happier. Pophyry suggests meatless and sexless diet in
order for soul to attain true knowledge of ultimate Oneness and also,
that divine light illuminates All. Am now Plotinian Neoplatonist.
Have given up fish. (Again.) Sex proving more difficult. Invited Alypius
to move in, but wish Ena was here. Mother parading prospective wives
younger than Adeodatus, with no conversation.
Christian opposition to evident truth surprisingly doughty. Re-reading
Latin bible in order to understand arguments against Neoplatonist ideals,
and am unexpectedly in sympathy with the clearly educated Paul
a man after my own heart, a slave to lust and a seeker for truth. Irritated
with students, unwell, distracted by external world of the body
Plotinus not providing promised revelation of spirit. Feel cursed.
Rejected. Has found new lover. At her age! Says has achieved companionship.
Wracked by jealousy.
Resolved to become Christian martyr, crucified before lions.
Thatll show her.
Mother beside herself. Believes conversion all down to her teaching.
Had to invent moment of revelation to forestall maternal outpourings:
luckily, had bible to hand. Page fell open at Damascene Conversion.
Said to Mother, saw the light. Mother immediately suggested dinner parties
for eligible Christian girls of good family. Told her was going to become
monk. Alypius said, great idea, me too. Also v. pleased no wife interupting
private discussion. Looked shifty.
Discovered Milan aesthetics v. expensive: seasonable habit change required.
Decided to found monastery at home instead. Alypius coming too.
Adeodatus dead. No words but grief.
Went to Hippo for salt and corn. Shortage of Christian priests more
onerous than first thought: kidnapped and ordained. Fled home before
tonsuring. Alypius not pleased.
Incensed. Came across ridiculous translation of scripture from the Hebrew,
uncanonical and without notes. From Hebrew! Discovered to my horror
translator Jerome, of the excellent, scholarly version taken from the
Greek. Wrote. Was exceedingly polite, although broke three styli in
Monastery failed. Went to Hippo, where church v. short staffed. As only
literate member, agreed to be Bishop provided could keep hair. Given
palace, also library. Paid by tithe. Feel may be some advantages to
Jerome replies. Defensive. Pressed case.
Frustrated by reaction to my sermons congregation appear bored,
passing wineskins and spitting olive pits at icons. Concepts of good,
evil and redemption by grace failing to hold attention. Attempted metaphor,
proverb and rhetorical allegory: elegant argument not appreciated. Tried
to relate to life in Hippo. Pirates Union objected, threatened
to take tithe to Donatist heretics. Decided to draw examples from own
life. Congregation enthralled by sexual misdemeanor. Enlarged church.
Bought new set of altar cloths and silver chalice. Wrote book.
Book scandal. Failed to predict orthodox Christian attitude towards
sex before marriage. Oops. Alypius exasperated. However, all publicity
good publicity: sales excellent. Decided to write sequel on Doctrine.
Correspondence Jerome continues. Infuriating. Do not understand why
he does not see my point! Translation of gourd vital to
understanding of gospels.
Encountered the hairy Briton Pelagius in the Forum. Argued re. orthodoxy
and free will Pelagius convinced divine grace excuses sin. Argument
that original sin requires redemption interrupted by drunk sailors shagging
against wall. Pelagius fled, leaving wine half-finished and declaring
Hippo den of iniquity. Attempted to bless sailors. Rebuffed.
Finished wine, masturbated, went to confession. Feel point proved.
Still struggling with Doctrine. Feel multiplicity of interpretations
not conducive to clear thought. Blocked.
Have started new book! Brilliant idea use Rome as metaphor for
City of God, suggesting even if physical presence fades, spiritual one
remains. Also intend to cover history of God, the church and the world
in 22 scrolls. May have my work cut out.
Feel may have bitten off more than I can chew with books. Struggling.
Calamity! Discovered wrote Homoiousios when actually meant
Homoousios. Do not intend to become Arian - would lose all tax benefits.
Made Alypius spell check all tablets. Grumbled.
Finished! Published On Christian Doctrine and The City of
God. Sensation! Am famous. Sales spectacular, only marred by difficulty
in reaching distributors in Rome. Wish war in Italy over and Visigoths
gone home. Am receiving fan mail. Also believe some readers not approaching
texts from right direction quarrelsome priests.
Theologians badger with letters asking to clarify early work
apparently claimed baptism essential for redemption and later also promised
that unbaptised infants would be saved by grace of God. Have no intention
of apologising for practical POV do these people have no congregation?
Wrote Retractions. Did not retract single word. Smug.
War likely Vandal fleet amassing. Many conversions. Feel situational
Revelation! So very tired of Christian carping at theological argument.
Shall start own religion! Will commence immediately seige lifted: feeling
better already. Must get out of bed.
Appear to be Saint. Miracle.