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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 300: Vincentius Victor



Vincentius Victor

After Quaestiones and Locutiones Augustine dates four books written on the origin of the soul to Vincentius Victor.2 They are usually entitled De anima et eius origine but in Possidius are entitled De natura et origine animi3 Victor was a young man from Caesarean Mauretania, a layman with many natural talents.4 He was eloquent, but with ornamented expression, acceptable, but verbose. His rambling style could have been corrected or at least tolerated, provided he maintained the truth. God had given him genius, but he did not possess the requisite humility; he was not sufficiently mature. In difficulties where he had no insight into solutions, he preferred profession of error to confession of ignorance. Victor knew Scripture verbatim but did not penetrate the sense sufficiently to write on difficult matters. Had he been educated in religion, he would have been a force for good.

He had been involved in the Rogatist sect, a Donatist splinter group near Cartenna, Caesarean Mauretania.5 He had recently left this faction to embrace Catholicism. However, he retained a high regard for Vincentius, the leader of the Rogatist party following its founder Rogatus. Victor regarded Vincentius as a holy and admirable man and therefore took his name and called himself Vincentius Victor.

One day as Victor was at the home of Pedro, a Spanish priest,6 he discovered Augustine’s work in which he in his usual modesty had confessed ignorance concerning the origin of the...

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