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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 309: Julian of Eclanum (3)



Julian of Eclanum (3)

According to Gennadius, Julian possessed a “lively and ardent spirit,” knowledge of Scripture, and erudition in Greek and Latin letters.1 Julian was proud of his secular learning.2 He was subtle in Aristotelian logic but used it in a churlish and pedantic manner.3 This knowledge inflates instead of being useful, and gave him an air of arrogance rendering him ridiculous.4 Julian’s arrogance appears frequently in his abundance of fiery, inflated, and ineffective phrases. Augustine and others have remarked on his rhetoric.5 Prosper calls him the most pedantic defender of the Pelagian heresy.6 According to Augustine, Julian had more skill in language than understanding;7 in his discourses he speaks pompously over nothing.8 He was a charlatan in disputes and a hypocrite in piety. He used ineffective discourse to satisfy his yen to speak,9 and caused others to see poverty in abundance. In effect had he not written a multitude of useless words, why would he write eight books against Augustine’s mere one?10 “His eloquence was as blind as it was vain.” To make his eloquence apparent he at times contradicts himself.11 This tendency may have caused an attribution of infantile rashness. According to Mercator, to show his rhetoric and knowledge by flowing phrases intended to astonish the ignorant he clearly errs.12 Using an expression of Virgil against an excessive lover of poetry, Augustine calls him a presumptuous and proud young man.13 Prosper attributes to him the swelling of fatted...

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