Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren
Article 336: Speculum
After writing Retractationes Augustine began to review his letters.1 He had already re-read many of them without putting anything in writing. He was obliged to respond to the eight books of Julian. So as not to interrupt work he judged necessary, he gave the day to the one and the night to the other if no other extraordinary business arose. Although he desired to finish this review, he was constrained by the war against the Vandals and finally by his death to leave it unfinished. Possidius and Cassiodorus report only two books of Retractationes.2
Possidius has supplied to some extent for Augustine not treating his letters and sermons by a table of Augustine’s works—books, letters, and sermons.3 Altogether they add up to one thousand and thirty writings without speaking of those which could not be counted because Augustine had not numbered them. Whence it is clear Possidius only counted those works which Augustine had already written when he reviewed them. According to Victor of Vitus, numbering Augustine’s letters and sermons is impossible (easy to believe of a bishop who had been the oracle of the African Church through more than thirty years).4 He was continually forced to speak on the occasions he was present5 and he preached God’s word incessantly up to his last illness.6
Possidius apparently says Augustine wrote Speculum circa the same time as Retractationes, that is shortly before the Vandals had neared Hippo.7 Speculum...