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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 333: Count Boniface (3)

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ARTICLE 333

Count Boniface (3)

According to Procopius, Aetius betrayed his conscience and honor to advance his fortunes.1 He rendered Boniface suspect to Placidia and Placidia to Boniface. This intrigue caused Placidia to send for Boniface. When he refused to come, Placidia and Aetius declared war against him. Only a short time passed between Boniface’s return to Africa after his marriage and the beginning of this war. In Augustine’s letter of 427, he writes despite his desire to do so he had been unable to speak or write to Boniface earlier.2 However, Boniface came to Hippo to visit Augustine. By then Augustine was so weak in body he could scarcely speak; thus he could not instruct Boniface on his salvation.

Boniface’s war against the Roman Empire produced several personal evils. Placidia and others had been wrong to attack him but his love of material goods and secular grandeur placed him in a precarious position. He committed several faults and suffered others to be committed in his behalf.

To give but one example, do you not see how many people are attached to you either to protect you or to maintain your authority, all of whom dream to arrive by means of you to secular goods? Only the spirit of the world, not the spirit of God, causes them to express their love for you. Instead of repressing and extinguishing your cupidity you are reduced to satisfying others’ desires. To that purpose is...

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