| print this
is the story of his years among the Manicheans. It includes the account of
his teaching at Tagaste, his taking a mistress, the attractions of astrology,
the poignant loss of a friend which leads to a searching analysis of grief
and transience. He reports on his first book, De pulchro et apto, and
his introduction to Aristotle's Categories and other books of philosophy
and theology, which he mastered with great ease and little profit.
1. During this period of nine years, from my nineteenth
year to my twenty-eighth, I went astray and led others astray.
I was deceived and deceived others, in varied lustful projects--sometimes
publicly, by the teaching of what men style "the liberal
arts"; sometimes secretly, under the false guise of religion.
In the one, I was proud of myself; in the other, superstitious;
in all, vain! In my public life I was striving after the
emptiness of popular fame, going so far as to seek theatrical
applause, entering poetic contests, striving for the straw
garlands and the vanity of theatricals and intemperate desires.
In my private life I was seeking to be purged from these
corruptions of ours by carrying food to those who were called
"elect" and "holy," which, in the laboratory of their stomachs,
they should make into angels and gods for us, and by them
we might be set free. These projects I followed out and
practiced with my friends, who were both deceived with me
and by me. Let the proud laugh at me, and those who have
not yet been savingly cast down and stricken by thee, O
my God. Nevertheless, I would confess to thee my shame to
thy glory. Bear with me, I beseech thee, and give me the
grace to retrace in my present memory the devious ways of
my past errors and thus be able to "offer to thee the sacrifice
For what am I to myself without thee but a guide to my own
downfall? Or what am I, even at the best, but one suckled
on thy milk and feeding on thee, O Food that never perishes? What indeed is any man, seeing
that he is but a man? Therefore, let the strong and the
mighty laugh at us, but let us who are "poor and needy"
confess to thee.