Both St. Augustine's Confessions and Virgil's epic The Aeneid marked a new direction in literature for the West. Each one was inspired by the works of previous authors, but was willing to forge a new literature for their times. In the Aeneid, Virgil established Rome as indebted to the Greek World, but at the same time worthy of its own glory and literature. He fashioned an epic to create and celebrate new heroes for a new empire. Rome was not simply a shadow of Greece, but part of a new era in history. St. Augustine's Confessions was written at the other end of the Empire's long lifespan, and heralded a new consciousness. It marked the beginning of literature exemplifying a new morality and new standards both personal and artistic.
[...] Virgil wanted his poetry to serve the function of tying the heroics of the Greeks and their literature, with the valor and bravery of the Trojans, to forge a Roman culture that would supposedly be an updated version of both. Augustine relies on quotations from the Bible, particularly the books of Psalms and Proverbs to reinforce his points. In the opening paragraphs of Confessions he quotes passages directly, creating a pastiche that runs coherently even though it is taken from different parts of the Bible. [...]
[...] By this time Rome was turning from a republic to an Empire and Virgil was using his epic to give authority to these changes, part of Rome's true nature since its founding. Virgil continues to invoke the muses and condemns Juno for “vengeful sorrow,” and putting upon the hero of the epic “dangers dark and endless for a man who was honorable and like a good Roman, wants to serve only heaven. However, Virgil assures the reader that Aeneas will eventually be successful, history requires it. [...]
[...] Man “desires” to praise, we are made for the Lord, and we have no hubris like in classical tragedy, every person's heart is only “restless until it rests in you These claims will help the reader to understand the trajectory of Augustine's life, from reluctant Christian, to Heretic, to pagan, to Manichean, and finally to a faithful Christian, and to see why he could not simply give himself up to the Lord before being prepared to do so, and when sufficiently “stirred” inside, he would have to become religious. [...]
[...] He is no character created, but one developed by tests and strife, much like Rome, which would undergo several transformations through its history. One of these last changes was the move from a pagan society to a Christian one. By the time that St. Augustine of Hippo was writing in the fifth century, AD, Rome's pagans had already lost most of their influence in politics and although they were present to claim the sack of Rome was the fault of Christians turning away from the gods, St. [...]
[...] It is not an epic in the style of the Iliad or the Aeneid, but it is a deeply philosophical and ponderous work. Still, it is different from previous texts by Plato, Aristotle, and Lucretius, not only in the questions that are asked, but in the way they are presented. Instead of a dialogue, Confessions opens up with a monologue, the author revealing his own doubts along with his certainties. There is no teacher and no student, the roles are collapsed into one, the narrator St. [...]
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