The Example Of A Woman Essay Research — страница 4

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alwayslonged for.> The fascinating detail about Augustine’sdescription in Contra Academicos is that he conceivesthe entire process, from beginning to end, as aphilosophical pilgrimage. It is after his encounter withPaul that philosophy beckons him home (tunc . . . mihiphilosophiae facies aperuit).> Augustine sets hisexperience in the framework established by Cicero’sHortensius: Catholic Christianity is the way tophilosophy, the love of wisdom. Again Augustine leaves out any mention of adramatic conversion. In fact, the pilgrimage could notbe more straightforward. Here too the only intimation ofdifficulties comes in the oblique reference to the factwhen he got hold of certain books he no longer desiredhonor and fame, and did not care to simply make a fewamends to his

life. But that is not saying very much inthe way of drama. Like the narrative in De beata vitathe account in Contra Academicos lacks the palpableregret one finds in Soliloquia, another one of theCassiciacum dialogues, where the subject of Augustine’sdisavowal of marriage is more conspicuous. “What about a wife?” Reason poses this question forAugustine. The response is emphatic. “However much youwish to paint her and to pile up on her every attraction, it will be of no account to me. I intendvery much to be continent.” Augustine goes on:I think that nothing unbars the door to a man’s mindmore than feminine charm and that contact with a woman’sbody which is so essential to having a wife.Consequently, if, as part of his duty, a wise man –whoI have not yet

discovered– takes heed to have childrenand has sexual relations on account of this, as far as Iam concerned, it is to be seen as an amazing thing, butno one should imitate him. For these dangers are able tobeguile more than any happiness they might give. Forthis reason it is sufficient, I believe, rightly andprofitably, for the freedom of my soul that I haveordered myself not to desire, not to seek, not to marrya wife.> Augustine’s reasoning is based on the requirementsof the philosophical life. And he finds it amazing thata wise man would consider having children as part of hisduty and would then endure the great peril that issleeping with a woman just for the sake of fulfillinghis obligation. Augustine sees living with a woman as agreat threat to intellectual life, it

throws open thesafe of a man’s mind (ex arce deiciat animum virilem).However, reading between the lines the real problemseems to be one of self-control, the ability to guardthe doorway of one’s soul. So even though thephilosophical rationale predominates, it is largelysecondary to the self-legislation that Augustine hasimposed on himself for the good of his soul (utiliterpro libertate animae meae). Astonishingly, Augustine also unabashedly refers towisdom as a woman, a lover, a theme that is at oncebiblical and Plotinian.> And as Reason tries to findout what kind of lover Augustine is a problem emerges.>Despite Augustine’s confidence he is not quite healthyenough for all this talk about embracing wisdom in sucha way that there is nothing that stands between them(nullo

interposito velamento quasi nudam). He is soonreminded by Reason that for all his aplomb his life ofcontinence is riddled with difficulties. In the previousdays reflections he had sounded out confidently that awoman’s embrace was too sordid a prospect tocontemplate. And yet while he ruminated with himselfduring the night it all seemed so very different.Augustine continued to be tempted by the bittersweetness (amara suavitas) of what he had so easilydismissed during the day.> “Be silent, I pray, be silent,” Augustine pleads.”Why do you grieve me? Why do you dig and penetrate sodeeply? I am already inured to tears. From now on Ipromise nothing, I presume nothing. Do not interrogateme about these things.”> The dissonance between what hethinks he has achieved and the

troubles that stillplague him here in the Soliloquies adumbrate similarconcerns in Bk. 10 of the Confessions. His troubles were far from over as he lay in bed atCassiciacum. Still, Augustine had chosen continence overmarriage and he intended to keep to that choice. Thecontinuing distress about his life of continencedemonstrates the peculiarity of Augustine’s equation ofcontinence and conversion in the months leading up tothe dramatic scene in the garden in Milan (Conf. 8.8.19-8.12.30). The highly textured fashion in which theConfessions portray Augustine’s anxieties is essentialto understanding this equation. Continence and A Possible Conversion to ChristianityAugustine’s conversion narrative proper begins inConfessions Bk. 7. In a retrospective, reminiscent ofthe account