The Example Of A Woman Essay Research — страница 9

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have been a fitting denouement to his earlierassessment of Ambrose’s celibacy. The absence of anyreference to this lost work in the Confessions istherefore a bit of a problem. But there is something else. Augustine rarely, ifever, uses the superiority of Christian asceticism as anargument against the philosophers. He reserves much ofthat ammunition for the Manichees, the first installmentof which comes in De moribus ecclesiae Catholicae. Asfor the philosophers, and the Platonists in particular,he continues to praise them even as late as the writingof De civitate Dei. His main objection against them istheir pride and lack of humility, not theirunwillingness or inability to undertake rigorousasceticism. When he does criticize the philosophers, aswe find him doing in De civitate

Dei, Augustine chidesthem for having acquiesced to the religious practices ofRoman society despite the high claims of theirphilosophies. It would be an intriguing idea if indeedAugustine is taking up a challenge put forth by Ambrosefor those who would seek the happy life. However, theunfolding of the narrative in the Confessions seems topoint in a direction away from Ambrose. There had always been the personal example ofAlypius. If there was a model that Augustine had hadbefore him for a good part of his life it was Alypius.Part of the Alypius portrait in the Confessions preparesthe way for the whole problem of marriage, sexualrenunciation and the desire for philosophical rest. Inthe midst of all their concerns about worldly honors(Conf. 6.6) Augustine and his friends sought a

way oflife, a true guide for their troubled souls. They hadhoped to find it in philosophical leisure. The planfaltered because they were sure the women would notagree to the arrangement. Augustine tells us that Alypius prevented him frommarrying because they feared losing the intimacy oftheir friendship.> But in his studied intransigenceagainst Alypius Augustine continued to maintain that thepursuit of wisdom did not rule out a woman’s love oreven a wife. Alypius almost lost his ground whencuriositas got the better of him, trying to figure outexactly what made Augustine’s desire for a woman such anecessity.> If Ambrose’s De philosophia helped in anyway it brought Augustine back to the views Alypius hadalways maintained. It is a measure of Augustine’s stubborn will

thathe could keep on living the way he did with Alypius fora friend and Monnica for a mother. While Alypius wasmaking no headway and faltering while trying tounderstand Augustine, Monnica’s arrival in Milan wouldprove more precipitous. When she arrived she sawAugustine nearer her Catholic faith than ever she hadseen him, and so meant to help her son on the way.Marriage seemed a good idea to make Augustine’s passageless turbulent. Monnica knew better than to suggestcontinence as the way for Augustine. Augustine’s concubine would be the casualty ofMonnica’s intervention. Augustine had lived with hisconcubine for about fourteen years in virtual defianceof his mother. When Monnica took the lead in arrangingfor a proper marriage for him the period of Augustine’sdefiance

appeared to have come to an abrupt end. Thelanguage describing his attitude towards Monnica’sintervention are much too passive, suggesting thatAugustine may not have reached this judgment on his owninitiative, and would probably not have taken decisivesteps without the urging of his mother.> With the departure of his concubine a mist descendson Augustine’s soul. In this state of uncertainty abouta possible marriage Augustine asks his mother to pray toGod for a vision about the future he was embarking on.What else explains Augustine’s anxiety about marriagethan the desire for dreams?> His youthful fascinationwith astrology may have reared its ugly head as hesought desperately to know his future. Monnicaapparently did have some dreams but they were of such anature that

she did not think much of them. Augustine,in his usual sense of tact, does not say what they were;only that Monnica assured her that she could always tellwhich dreams were from God and which ones were simplythe products of her own anxieties, fears and imaginings.Perhaps one should not be surprised at Monnica here.What is surprising is that Augustine sought suchassurances. And it appears to be the first indication oftrouble (Conf. 6.13.23). Augustine’s depression continued. The helplesscreature of habit had meant to weather the storm bytaking another concubine, as he waited to be married.But he found himself deeply troubled. By the time wemeet him at Conf. Bk. 8.6.13 he is in the throes of hisanxieties, distraught over the prospect of having toconsider a life of continence as an