SEVERAL times in his writings Augustine tells us how the City of God is to be divided, and what is the leading topic of each division. A full consecutive account is to be found in a letter written in the last years of his life, accompanying the gift of a manuscript of the work, to the layman Firmus. This letter was first noted by the Benedictine scholar Dom C. Lambot, of Maredsous Abbey, Belgium, and published by him in Revue Bénédictine, vol. LI, nos. 2–3 (1939). In it Augustine writes as follows:
There are XXII notebooks (quaterniones), too many to combine in a single volume. If you wish to make two volumes (codices) you must so divide them that there are ten in one and twelve in the other. If you want more than two, then you must make five volumes. The first is to contain the five first books (libros), in which I write against those who maintain that the worship of the gods – I would rather say, of the evil spirits (daemones) – leads to happiness in this life. The second is to contain the next five books, written against those who think that suchlike deities are to be worshipped by rites and sacrifices in order to secure happiness in the life to come. The three following volumes should contain four books each. This section I have arranged so that four should describe the origin of that City, four its progress, or rather its development, and the four last the ends (sic) in store for it.
In the City of God itself, the reader will find partial descriptions of the work (Bks II, 2; III, 1; IV, 1–2; VI, preface and ch. 1; XI, 1; XII, 1; XVIII, 1) as also in his Retractations Bk II, 43.
Within each book the topics are often so disparate as to defy broad analysis. In the translation that follows this introduction, the chapter headings (very possibly by Augustine himself) are helpful. Here an attempt has been made to pick out some salient features in each book that a reader might wish to be able to find rapidly for reference.
CITY OF GOD
BOOK I. The gods did not protect Rome. The Christians suffered with others, but disasters overtake both good and bad, and the loss of worldly goods is not always a disaster. The violation of chastity does not harm the unwilling soul. Suicide is not permissible to avoid this.
BOOK II. The pagan gods had no moral teaching to give. Examples of the obscenity of pagan rites drawn from Augustine’s experience. The gods not only tolerated but even demanded obscenity on the stage. Sallust gave a picture of Rome’s decadence. First appearance of Scripio’s definition of a state. Cicero’s judgement. Further account of obscenities in public worship.
BOOK III. The gods failed to protect Ilium or to save Rome. Rome was morally firm in Numa’s day. The subsequent religious depravity.
BOOK IV. The number and futility of Roman gods. Praise of Varro.
BOOK V. The falsity of astrology. God is neither Fate nor Destiny. Roman virtue is responsible for Roman worldly success. A summary of Roman history: ambition for glory; ambition for dominion. God helps the Christian emperors.
BOOK VI. Gods are not worshipped for their gift of eternal life. Varro and ‘mythical’ and ‘civil’ deities. ‘M. Varro, you are the shrewdest of men and without doubt the most erudite’ (Bk VI, 6,). The absurd small gods. They do not even help temporal life.
BOOK VII. The ‘select’ gods. Who are they? How chosen? Is Jupiter supreme? Is a deity the soul of the world?
BOOK VIII. ‘Natural’ theology. A short history of Greek philosophy. The Platonists, ‘raised above the rest by the glorious reputation they so thoroughly deserve’. Platonists are near–Christians. The worship of ‘demons’ rejected (Apuleius – Hermes Trismegistus). The pagan cult of the dead and the Christian cult of martyrs. Pagan sacrifice and the one and only true Christian victim.
BOOK IX. More about demons. Apuleius and the Neoplatonists.
BOOK X. The true worship of God. Porphyry and the false claims of theurgy. The angels. The Christian sacrifice. Platonists refuse to acknowledge Christ, the universal way of salvation.
BOOK XI. The Truth of the Scriptures. Creation. Time. Angels, good and apostate. Wickedness is not natural; nothing created is in itself evil. How are we sure of our own existence?
BOOK XII. Evil is non-existent. Evil has no cause – it is the turning of a limited creature from God to itself. Creation took place long ago. The Cyclic idea of history is false. The world is not eternal.
BOOK XIII. The creation of man and its problems. Death and resurrection.
BOOK XIV. The life of the spirit and the life of the flesh. Stoic ‘apathy’ (not human). Only the Creator can undo the results of sin. Two cities.
BOOK XV. Early man. Abel, Cain and the patriarchs. Who were the ‘giants’? Beginning of two cities. Noah and the ark.
BOOK XVI. Noah to Judah. How do we explain human monsters? There are no antipodes.
BOOK XVII. A detailed account of the preparation for Christ by prophecies throughout Scripture.
BOOK XVIII. The earthly city and the city of God down to Christ. There are two sorts of men in the Church, the predestined and the others who will be condemned. There are others besides Jews in the City of God. Job is a supreme example.
BOOK XIX. What is man’s supreme Good? Peace. Everything is directed towards peace, even war.
BOOK XX. The last judgement. Law and order. Scipio’s republic again.
BOOK XXI. HOW is eternal punishment possible? Pain of soul or body? Does temporal punishment exist after death for some?
BOOK XXII. The creation and resurrection. Miracles still occur in the Christian Church. The Vision of God.
THE bibliography of Augustine is immense and there are at least three periodicals, among them the Revue des études augustiniennes, devoted exclusively to his work. Augustine has never been served or understood by historians better than during the past fifty years. For all save the dedicated specialist the bibliography in Peter Brown’s book (below) will be sufficient for biographical and general material, and for Augustine’s theology and thought the notes in Gilson’s work (below) may be consulted.
BIOGRAPHY. The contemporary Life by Augustine’s disciple Possidius has great value, and is available in English, translated from the edition of H. T. Weisskotten (1919), but for all strictly biographical material the work Augustine of Hippo, by Peter Brown (1967) is in a class by itself, including, as a bonus, chronological tables of Augustine’s works and lists of English translations.
THOUGHT. Here a useful work is that of E. Gilson, Introduction à l‘étude de S. Augustin (3rd edition, 1949), of which a shortened version can be found in Gilson’s History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (1955), which contains biographical notes. For a ‘total’ view of Augustine the classic article by E. Portalié in the Dictionnaire de théologie catholique (1903), translated as A Guide to the Thought of St Augustine (1960), still retains its high value. In all the above, and in many other works, the City of God receives some treatment. For Plotinus the best short account is that by A. H. Armstrong in The Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy (1967). S. MacKenna’s translation of the Enneads (3rd edition, 1970, with introduction by P. Henry) is a classic.
For Manicheism, the standard work is H. Puech, Le Manichéisme: son fondateur, sa doctrine (1944). There is an excellent short account in the edition of the Confessions by Gibb and Montgomery (2nd edition, 1927). For the Donatists see W. H. C. Frend, The Donatist Church (1952).
Suggested Further Reading
(a short selection from an immense literature)
1. On the General Background
G. Boissier, La fin du paganisme, Paris, 1891
C. N. Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture, Oxford, 1940
S. Dill, Roman Society in the Last Century of the Western Empire, London, 1899
E. R. Dodds, Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety, Oxford, 1965
P. de Labriolle, La réaction paienne, 10th edition, Paris, 1950
A. Momigliano (ed.), The Conflict between Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century, London, 1963
A. D. Nock, Conversion. The Old and the New in Religion from Alexander the Great to Augustine of Hippo, Oxford, 1933
2. On Augustine’s Life and Thought
R. Battenhouse (ed.), A Companion to the Study of St. Augustine, New York, 1955 (contains a short essay on the City of God by E. R. Hardy)
G. Bonner, St Augustine of Hippo. Life and Controversies, London, 1963
J. Burnaby, Amor Dei, London, 1938
P. Courcelle, Les Lettres grecques en Occident de Macrobe à Cassiodore, Paris, 1958; Recherches sur les ‘Confessions’ de S. Augustin, Paris, 1950
R. A. Markus, Saeculum: History and Society in the Theology of St Augustine, London, 1970
H. Marrou, Augustin et la fin de la culture antique, Paris, 1938
R. O’Connell, St Augustine’s Confessions, Harvard, 1969
J. J. O’Meara, The Young Augustine, London, 1954, 1980
E. Teselle, Augustine the Theologian, New York, 1970
F. van der Meer, Augustine the Bishop, London and New York, 1961
3. On the City of God
R. H. Barrow, Introduction to St Augustine, The City of God, London, 1950 (selections in Latin and English, with an analysis and a running commentary)
N. H. Baynes, The Political Ideas of St Augustine’s De Civitate Dei, London, 1936
Bibliothèque Augustinienne, vols 33–37, La Cité de Dieu, Paris, 1959–60 (the most useful modern edition)
S. Burleigh, The City of God. A Study of St Augustine’s Philosophy, London, 1950
H. A. Deane, The Political and Social Ideas of St Augustine, London and New York, 1963
J. N. Figgis, The Political Aspects of St Augustine’s City of God, London (reprinted 1963)
J. C. Guy, Unité et structure logique de la ‘Cité de Dieu’ de Saint Augustin, Paris, 1961
H. I. Marrou, Théologie de l’histoire, Paris, 1968
J. J. O’Meara, Charter of Christendom, London, 1967
J. E. C. Welldon, S. Aurelii Augustini… De Civitate Dei…, 2 vols London, 1924 (the only annotated edition in English with full notes and a useful introduction and appendices)
THE text I have used is the Teubner text of Bernard Dombart and Alphonse Kalb (fourth edition 1928–9) reprinted, with some correction, in the series Corpus Christianoratn (Turnhout, 1955). In a very few places I have adopted a variant reading; but I have not thought it necessary to mark these places.
Quotations from Scripture are not taken from any standard version. It often happens that St Augustine’s argument depends on an interpretation which differs from that of any of the existing English translations; and for this reason I have used my own versions, thus giving myself freedom to allow St Augustine to make his points, without having recourse to footnotes.
Our author is pleased, on occasion, to air his somewhat scanty knowledge of the Greek language; and where he quotes in that tongue, I have transliterated the words, with the usual indication of long vowels.
It will be observed that Augustine referring to St Paul, generally follows the convention of the Church Fathers in designating him ‘the Apostle’.
Abbreviations Used in References
A. To Books of Scripture
S.of S. The Song of Songs
LXX The Septuagint: the Greek Version of the Old Testament, produced in Alexandria in the second century B.C.
Vulg. The Vulgate: the Latin version of the Bible (editio vulgata), compiled by St Jerome; completed c. 404. St Augustine’s Bible was one of the ‘Old Latin Versions’. The Old Testament in this was a translation of the Septuagint, which often differs widely from the Hebrew text. Some of the notable discrepancies are indicated in the notes to this translation by the addition of (LXX) after the reference.
B. To Secular Authors
As a general rule references are given only by author’s name when only one work of that author is extant, e.g. Plin. = Pliny, Naturalis Historia.
Ambr. – Ambrose of Milan (bishop and theologian, c. A.D. 339–c. 397)
De Virg. – De Virginibus ad Marcellinam Sororem
Ep. – Epistolae
Ammianus Marcellinus (Roman historian, fi. c. A.D. 390)
Apollod – Apollodorus (Greek mythologist, fl. c.140 B.C.)
Bibliotheca (spurious; first or second century A.D.)
Appian (Greek historian, fl. c. A.D. 160)
De Bell. Civ. De Bello Civui
De Bell. Mithr. – De Bello Mithridatico
Apul. – Apuleius (philosophical writer, and novelist, fl. c. A.D. 150)
Apol. – Apologia Pro Se (De Magia)
De Deo Socr. – De Deo Socratis
De Mund. – De Mundo
Met. – Metamorphoses (The Golden Ass)
[Apul] – Pseudo–Apuleius
Asclep. – Asclepius
Arist. – Aristotle (Greek philosopher, 384–322 B.C.)
De An. – De Anima
De Cael. – De Caelo
Eth. Nic. – Ethica Nicomachea
Met. – Metaphysica
Arnob. – Arnobius (Christian apologist, fl. c. A.D. 300)
Adv. Gent. – Adversus Gentes (or Adversus Nationes)
Arr. – Arrian (Greek historian, c. A.D.95–172)
Anab. – Anabasis (of Alexander the Great)
Aug. – Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354–430)
Adv. Faust. Man. – Adversus Faustum Manichaeum Conf. – Confessiones
De Div. Quaest, ad Simplic. – De Diversis Quaestionibus ad Simplicanum
De Doctr. Christ. – De Doctrina Christiana
De Gen. ad Lit. – De Genesi ad Litteram
De Gen. c. Man. – De Genesi contra Manichaeos
De Haer. – De Haeresibus ad Quodvultdeum
De Nupt. et Conc. – De Nuptiis et Concupiscentia
De Pecc. Mer. et Rem. – De Peccatorum Meritis et Remissione (et de Baptismo Parvulorum)
De Spir. et Lit. – De Spiritu et Littera
De Trin. – De Trinitate
De Ver. Rel. – De Vera Religione
Enarr. in Ps. – Enarrationes in Psalmos
Ep. – Epistolae
Exp. ex Ep. ad Rom. – Expositiones Quarundam Expositionum ex Epistola ad Romanos
Quaest. in Hept. – Quaestiones in Heptateuchum
Retract. – Retracttaiones
Serm. – Sermones
[Aurel. Vict.] – Pseudo-Aurelius Victor
Epit. – Epitome de Caesaribus (wrongly assigned to Aurelius Victor, a fourth-century biographer of the emperors from Augustus to Constantine)
Cic. – Cicero (Roman orator and statesman, 106–43 B.C.)
Acad. Post. – Academica Posteriora
Acad. Prior. – Academica Priora
Ad Fam. – Epistulae ad Familiares
De Am. – De Amicitia
De Div. – De Divinatione
De Fat. – De Fato
De Fin. – De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum
De Har. Resp. – De Haruspicum Responso
De Leg. – De Legibus
De Nat. Deor. – De Natura Deorum
De Off. – De Officiis
De Or. – De Oratore
De Rep. – De Republica
In Cat. – In Catilinam
In Verr. – In Verrem
Philip. – Orationes Philippicae
Pro Lig. – Pro Ligarlo
Pro Rabir. – Pro Rabirio
Pro Scaur. – Pro Scauro
Tim. – Timaeus (translated or adapted from Plato)
Tusc. Disp. – Tusculanae Disputationes
Claudian (Roman poet, fl. c. A.D.400)
Cons. Hon. III – De Tertio Consulatu Honorii Panegyricus
Clem. Al. – Clement of Alexandria (theologian, c. A.D.150–c. 215)
Strom. – Stromateis
Curtius Rufus (Latin historian, fl. c. A.D. 59)
De Gest. Alex. – De Gestis Alexandri Magni
Cyprian of Carthage (bishop and theologian, d. A.D.258)
Ep. – Epistolae
Cyr. Al. – Cyril of Alexandria (patriarch and thelogian, d. A.D. 444)
C. Jul. – Contra Julianum
Dem. – Demosthenes (Athenian orator and statesman, 383–322 B.C.)
De Cor. – De Corona
Dio Cass. – Dio Cassius (Greek historian, c. A.D. 150–235)
Diod. Sic. – Diodorus Siculus (Greek historian, fl. c. 40 B.C.)
Diog. Laert. – Diogenes Laertius (Greek biographer and doxographer, c. A.D. 200–250)
De Clarorum Philosophorum Vitis…
Dion. Hal. – Dionysius of Halicaknassus (Greek literary critic and historian, fl. c. 25 B.C.)
Ant. Rom. – Antiguitates Romanae
Epict. – Epictetus (Greek philosopher, c. A.D 60–140)
Ench. – Enchiridion (edited by Arrian)
Eur. – Euripides (Greek tragedian, c. 480–406 B.C.)
Frag. – Fragmenta
Iph. T. – Iphigenia in Tauris
Euseb. – Eusebius of Caesarea (bishop and historian, c. A.D. 260–c. 340)
Dem. Ev. – Demonstrato Evangelica
Praep. Ev. – Praeparatio Evangelica
Chronicon – The Chronicle of Eusebius, continued by Jerome
Eutrop. – Eutropius (Roman historian, fl. c. A.D. 370)
Breviarium ab Urbe Condita
Flor. – Florus (Roman historian, fl. c. A.D. 100)
Epit. – Epitome
Festus (Latin epitomist, second century A.D.)
De Verb. Sign. – De Verborum Significatu (epitome of Verrius Flaccus, grammarian in reign of Augustus)
Gell. – Aulus Gellius (Roman essayist, fl. c. A.D. 160)
Hes. – Hesiod (Greek poet, probably eighth century B.C.)
Theog. – Theogonia
Hier. – Jerome (biblical scholar, c. A.D. 347–420)
Comm. in Dan. – Commentarium in Danierem
Comm. in Ez. – Commentarium in Ezekielem
Ep. – Epistolae
Praef. in Is. – Praefatio in Isaiam
Praef. in Mal. – Praefatio in Malachiam
Quaest. Hebr. in Gen. – Questiones Hebraicae in Genesin
Hom. – Homer (Greek epic poet, probably ninth century B.C.)
Il. – Iliad
Od. – Odyssy
Hor. – Horace (Roman poet, 65–8 B.C.)
Carm. – Carmina (Odes)
Ep. – Epistulae
Epod. – Epodes
Joseph. – Josephus (Jewish historian, A.D. 37–c. 100)
Ant. Jud. – Antiquitates Judaicae
Bell. Jud. – Bella Judaica
Jul. Obs. – Julius Obsequens (Latin epitomist, probably fourth century A.D.)
Prod. – Liber Prodigiorum
Justin (Latin epitomist, first or second century A.D.)
Epitome (of the Historiae Philippicae of Trogus Pompeius, fl. under Augustus)
Justin Martyr (Greek Christian apologist, A.D. 109–165)
Apol. – Apologia contra Gentiles
Dial. – Dialogus cum Tryphone Judaeo
Juv. – Juvenal (Roman satirist, c. A.D. 250 – c. 320)
Lact. – Lactantius (Latin rhetorician and Christian apologist, c. A.D. 250–c. 320)
De Ira Dei
Div. Inst. – Divinae Institutions
Liv. – Livy (Roman historian, 59 B.C.-A.D. 17)
Ab Urbe Condita (references given without title)
Epit. – Epitome (an abridgement of the above)
Perioch. – Periochae (short abstracts of each book) (Of the 142 books of Livy’s History of Rome only thirty-five survive. The Epitome of twelve books has been recovered, and we have the Periochae of all but two of the books.)
Luc. – Lucan (Roman epic poet, A.D. 39–65)
Phars. – Pharsalia
Lucr. – Lucretius (Roman philosophic poet, c. 99–c. 55 B.C.)
De Rerum Natura
Macrob. – Macrobius Theodosius (Roman philosophic writer, fl. c. A.D. 400)
Martianus Capella (Latin allegorist, early fifth century A.D.)
De Nuptiis Mercurii et Philologiae
Minucius Felix (Christian apologist, second or third century A.D.)
Origen (Alexandrian biblical scholar and theologian, c. A.D. 185–c. 254)
C. Cels. – Contra Celsum
In Gen. Hom. – In Genesin Homiliae
De Princ. – De Principiis ()
Oros. – Orosius (Latin historian, early fifth century A.D.)
Ovid (Roman elegiac poet, 43 B.C.–A.D.18)
Fast. – Fasti
Met. – Metamorphoses
Paus. – Pausanias (Greek geographer, fl. c. A.D. 150)
Hellados Periêgêsis (Descriptio Graeciae)
Pers. – Persius (Roman satirist, A.D.34–62)
Pind. – Pindar (Greek lyric poet, c. 520–c. 440 B.C.)
Nem. – Nemean Odes
Plat. – Plato (Greek philosopher, c. 427–348 B.C.)
Apol. – Apologia Socratis
Crat. – Cratylus
Legg. – Leges
Phaed. – Phaedo
Phaedr. – Phaedrus
Prot. – Protagoras
Rp. – De Republica
Symp. – Symposium
Tim. – Timaeus
Plaut. – Plautus (Roman comic playwright, c. 254–184 B.C.)
Amph. – Amphitruo
Plin. – Pliny the Elder (Roman natural historian, A.D. 23–79)
Plot. – Plotinus (Neoplatonist philosopher, A.D. 205–270)
Enn. – Enneadcs
Plut. – Plutarch (Greek biographer and essayist, c. A.D. 46–c. 120)
Ages. – Vitae Parallelae, Agesilaus
Alex. – Vitae Parallelae, Alexander
Caes. – Vitae Parallelae, Julius Caesar
C. Gracch. – Vitae Parallelae, Caius Gracchus
Cat. – Vitae Parallelae, Cato
De Fort. Rom. – De Fortuna Romanorum
Num. – Vitae Parallelae, Numa
Quaest. Rom. – Quaestiones Romanae
Pyrrh. – Vitae Parallelae, Pyrrhus
Sull. – Vitae Parallelae, Sulla
Sall. – Sallust (Roman historian, 86–35 B.C.)
Cat. – Catilina (Bellum Catilinae)
Hist. – Historiae Fragmenta
Iug. – Jugurtha (Bellum Iugurthinum)
Sen. – Seneca (Roman essayist c. 4 B.C.-A.D. 65)
Contr. – Controversiae
De Clem. – Dialogas de Clementia
De Ira – Dialogus de Ira
Ep. – Epistulae
Socr. – Socrates (Greek Church historian, c. A.D. 380–450)
Soph. – Sophocles (Greek dramatist, 496–406 B.C.).
Oed. Tyr. – Oedipus Tyrannus
Strab. – Strabo (Greek geographer, c. 64 B.C. – A.D. 10)
Suet. – Suetonius (Roman biographer, c. A.D.70–c. 160)
De Vita Caesarum
Tac. – Tacitus (Roman historian, c. A.D. 55–c. 115)
Hist. – Historiae
Ter. – Terence (Roman comic playwright, c. 195–159 B.C.)
Ad. – Adelphi
Andr. – Andria
Eun. – Eunuchus
Terentian. – Terentianus Mauras (Latin grammarian and metrist, late second century A.D.)
De Metr. – De Litteris Syllabis et Metris Horatii
Tert. – Tertullian (African Church Father, c. A.D. 160–c. 220)
Ad Nat. – Ad Nationes
Ap. – Apologia
De Res. Mort. – De Resurrectione Mortuorum
De Spect. – De Spectaculis
Thdt. – Theodoret (bishop, theologian, and historian, c. A.D. 393–c. 458)
H.E. – Historia Ecclesiastica
Val. Max. – Valerius Maximus (Latin anecdotist, fl. c. A.D. 30)
Factorum et Dictorum Memorabilium Libri IX
Varro (Roman polymath, 116–27 B.C.)
De Ling. Lat. – De Lingua Latina
De Re Rust. – De Re Rustica
Velleius Paterculus (Roman historian, fl. c. A.D. 20)
Virg. – Virgil (Roman epic, bucolic and didactic poet, 70–19 B.C.)
Aen. – Aeneid
Eel. – Eclogae
Georg. – Georgica