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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 311: Contra Iulianum



Contra Iulianum

421 A.D.

Alypius carried Contra duas epistolas Pelagianorum addressed to Boniface and De nuptiis et concupiscentia II addressed to Valerius to Italy1 at either the end of 420 or the beginning of 421. Augustine’s desire for a prompt refutation of Julian’s abstract indicates he did not delay in sending Valerius his refutation.

The manner in which Pelagians picture Alypius’ trip indicates it was undertaken against them.2 Emperor Constance was pursuing the Pelagians. According to Julian, Augustine had arranged women and valets for Alypius.3 Alypius had brought eighty horses which had grazed on African soil for the imperial tribunes and officers. By their fear, Catholics witness mistrust of their cause. Not daring to declare their faith, Catholics poured out their adversaries’ blood and fought their opponents by destroying their power by making extravagant presents to important officials, by giving these officials lands and inheritances of aristocratic ladies, by sending with Alypius flocks of horses fed in Africa at a cost to the poor for Roman captains and colonels, by fomenting popular factions in Italy, and by awakening sedition in Rome through bribes. The Catholics had dishonored the reign of a pious prince by a scandalous persecution.

Augustine responds that Julian is either lying or rash.4 If he invented these stories himself he is evil; if he believed them on the authority of others, he is imprudent. No greater impudence can exist than lying in a book which...

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