The Example Of A Woman Essay Research — страница 5

  • Просмотров 700
  • Скачиваний 6
  • Размер файла 37

in De beata vita, he recounts the variousturns he had taken since adolescence: First theManichees, then astrology, Academic skepticism, Neo-Platonism, and finally Paul and the Scriptures.Chronologically he goes over material that he hasalready described in Bks. 4-6. However, Bk. 7 gives acoherent and tidy account of the various errors fromwhich he was converted, preparing the way for theclimactic overture in Bk. 8. Yet the intellectualodyssey in Bk. 7 seems to have little bearing on thetheme of sexual renunciation which concludes Bk. 8. In Bk. 7 Augustine speaks of the chains in which hewas shackled as he sought desperately to find an answerfor the question about the origin of evil. This washardly an academic issue for him, he was suffering manyinner torments which no one else

knew.> Much of thelanguage here tends to link his chains with pride, withthe effect that his intellectual difficulties remain atthe forefront. However, by linking the language ofcensure and self-deprecation with his desire to serveGod and thereby master his body,> he offers a vagueallusion that perhaps beside the managed air ofintellectual problems that befuddle him there is anothermore fundamental problem. When he tries to work his wayto think of God in non-corporeal terms other images seemto shout back, accusing him of being vile and unworthy(indigne et sordide).> Augustine does not begin to unravel his existentialcrisis until the opening lines of Bk. 8, withintellectual certainties on the one hand and avacillating will on the other:Of thy eternal life I was now

certain, though I saw itin a figure and as through a glass. Yet I ceased todoubt that there was an incorruptible substance, whencewas all other substances; nor did I now [desire] to bemore certain of Thee, but more steadfast in Thee. Butfor my temporal life, all was wavering, and my heart hadto be purged from the old leaven. The Way, the SaviourHimself, well pleased me, but as yet I shrunk from goingthrough its straitness.> So many people throng to the Church, but Augustinestill leads a secular life (agabam in saeculo). The wayseems too narrow, too constricting. Only now he has lostthe desire for honor and attainment.> So he is doublymiserable, displeased with himself, and his life aburden to bear (oneri mihi). He cannot quite keep awayfrom the Church, but as yet he is

hesitant. He stillfinds himself chained, as it were, to his desire for awoman’s embrace (sed adhuc tenaciter conligabar exfemina). He adds that the apostle (that is, Paul) does notforbid him marriage (nec me prohibebat apostolusconiugari) but he finds himself so self-indulgent thathe cannot attain to the higher calling of continence.And then he notes that Truth (that is Jesus) teaches himsimilarly, quoting Matthew 19.12 about those who makethemselves eunuchs for the kingdom of God. All this isto show Augustine in a less than admirable position: helanguishes in his weakness (ego imfirmior). It is analmost unrecognizable image of the man who had soadamantly urged against Alypius that for him marriageand a philosophical life went hand in hand, and moreoverhe could not envision a

happy life without a woman’sembrace (Conf. 6.13-14). Here, we catch a glimpse of hisdepression:But I being weak, chose the more indulgent place; andbecause of this alone, was tossed up and down in allbeside, faint and wasted with withering cares, becausein other matters I was constrained against my will toconform myself to a married life, to which I was givenup and enthralled.> By this time Augustine had already been through theexperience of seeing his first concubine sent back toAfrica, and unwilling to observe continence he had takenanother concubine (Conf. 6.15.25). In the meantime hewaited to get married to someone of his own social classand rank. Although marriage was all but certain,Augustine seemed to be wearying of the idea. As we readhim here, he seems to think that

marriage isinconsistent with his conversion to Christianity. Heacknowledges that he is not obliged to reject themarried state, but he seems to think that marriage forhim would be an honorable self-indulgence at best. Augustine defines his problem in terms of the manin the parable in the Gospels who finds a pearl of greatprice and sells everything to acquire it. Except that inhis case he hesitates.> And to Simplicianus he goes,desperate for help, desperate for resolution. He expectsto be helped on the way because by dint of age andexperience Simplicianus would know what proper coursesomeone in Augustine’s situation needed to take (undemihi ut proferret uolebam conferentis secum aestusmeos).> Augustine’s emphasis here is on his uncertaintyand lack of resolve (aestus).