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The Life of Augustine of Hippo

Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)

Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren

The seventeenth century was the century of Saint Augustine. In 1695, Louis Sébastien, Le Nain de Tillemont, finished volume 13 of his Mémoires ecclésiastique, entitled La vie de saint Augustin. The volume consisted of approximately 1200 pages wherein Louis Sébastien gathered from the works of Augustine and elsewhere all extant passages relevant to the biography of Augustine of Hippo. Completed in 1695, the biography was published posthumously in 1700. The work lies in the tradition of Jansenism from Port-Royal and the Leuven. Though an ascetic recluse on the family estate for the last twenty years of his life, he was in touch with important French scholars and the ecclesiastical movements of his time. Louis’ work is the first modern biography of Augustine and the most comprehensive of all Augustinian biographies, even today. Modern authors consult him and frequently adopt his theories without citation. His method exercises influence on contemporary Parisian scholarship on Augustine. This English translation has been divided into three volumes covering three time periods: part 1: birth to episcopal consecration (354–396); part 2: the Donatist controversy (396–411); part 3: the Pelagian controversy (411–430).
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Article 232: Arrest of Marcellinus



Arrest of Marcellinus

The revolt of Heraclianus, Count of Africa, occurred in 413. He attacked Rome with a fleet of more than three thousand ships, was defeated by Count Marinus, and executed in Carthage. He had fled there in all likelihood before August 3. Count Marinus then traveled through Africa apparently to execute the law of July 5.1 By this law all those who took part in the rebellion of Heraclianus were to be put to death. Count Marinus lost his reputation and fortune over the death of the tribune Marcellinus who had rendered such great service to the Church against the Donatists. According to Jerome Marcellinus had been killed by heretics.2 He adds he was put to death because he was thought to be involved in the tyranny of Heraclianus, though he was patently innocent. Jerome shows clearly—Orosius says explicitly—Count Marinus put him to death.3 He was impelled to this sentence by private jealousy or corruption by Donatist money.

Details of Marcellinus’ death can be found in Letter 151. Augustine does not mention Marcellinus by name but the details of the letter fit him so unmistakably scholars are not hesitant over this reference—it is taken for granted here. Certainly no one would be more deserving of the grief Augustine expresses over this death and his efforts to prevent it.

Letter 151 is addressed to Caecilianus, an elderly man of ordered life and highly regarded character.4 He...

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