Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren
Article 231: De ciuitate dei
De ciuitate dei
De ciuitate dei could possibly be dated from 4112 since it was written in response to charges against the Christian religion concerning the fall of Rome (408–410).3 However there is every reason to believe Augustine did not begin writing it earlier than 413. He had not yet conceived its plan when he treated the same subject in 412 in his letters to Volusianus and Marcellinus; indeed these letters may have been the occasion of De ciuitate dei. At that time Marcellinus had exhorted Augustine to write not merely letters but entire books against the pagans. Such a work would be of incalculable benefit to the entire Church.4 For the moment Augustine was content with several letters.5 At the same time he asked Marcellinus to apprise him of the topics necessary to treat with the pagans. He could then meet the challenge in either letters or books, deo uolente. Quite possibly this correspondence with Marcellinus involved him gradually in undertaking his magnum opus. In fact De ciuitate dei is addressed to Marcellinus himself. He is the one from whom the idea of a response to pagans came and to whom Augustine had promised the work.6
Augustine says zeal for the Lord’s house stirred his desire to refute the pagan charges.7 However from this particular topic he proceeded to explicate the city of God and the city of man, that is, the society of the good whose leader is...