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Translated by J.G. Pilkington. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 1. Edited by Philip Schaff.

  • Chapter 1 He Proclaims the Greatness of God, Whom He Desires to Seek and Invoke, Being Awakened by Him.
  • Chapter 2 That the God Whom We Invoke is in Us, and We in Him.
  • Chapter 3 Everywhere God Wholly Fills All Things, But Neither Heaven Nor Earth Contains Him.
  • Chapter 4 The Majesty of God is Supreme, and His Virtues Inexplicable.
  • Chapter 5 He Seeks Rest in God, and Pardon of His Sins.
  • Chapter 6 He Describes His Infancy, and Lauds the Protection and Eternal Providence of God.
  • Chapter 7 He Shows by Example that Even Infancy is Prone to Sin.
  • Chapter 8 That When a Boy He Learned to Speak, Not by Any Set Method, But from the Acts and Words of His Parents.
  • Chapter 9 Concerning the Hatred of Learning, the Love of Play, and the Fear of Being Whipped Noticeable in Boys: and of the Folly of Our Elders and Masters.
  • Chapter 10 Through a Love of Ball-Playing and Shows, He Neglects His Studies and the Injunctions of His Parents.
  • Chapter 11 Seized by Disease, His Mother Being Troubled, He Earnestly Demands Baptism, Which on Recovery is Postponed— His Father Not as Yet Believing in Christ.
  • Chapter 12 Being Compelled, He Gave His Attention to Learning; But Fully Acknowledges that This Was the Work of God.
  • Chapter 13 He Delighted in Latin Studies and the Empty Fables of the Poets, But Hated the Elements of Literature and the Greek Language.
  • Chapter 14 Why He Despised Greek Literature, and Easily Learned Latin.
  • Chapter 15 He Entreats God, that Whatever Useful Things He Learned as a Boy May Be Dedicated to Him.
  • Chapter 16 He Disapproves of the Mode of Educating Youth, and He Points Out Why Wickedness is Attributed to the Gods by the Poets.
  • Chapter 17 He Continues on the Unhappy Method of Training Youth in Literary Subjects.
  • Chapter 18 Men Desire to Observe the Rules of Learning, But Neglect the Eternal Rules of Everlasting Safety.

Latin English
LIBER PRIMUS The Confessions (Book I)
1.1.1 Magnus es, Domine, et laudabilis valde. Magna virtus tua et sapientiae tuae non est numerus. Et laudare te uult homo, aliqua portio creaturae tuae, et homo circumferens mortalitatem suam, circumferens testimonium peccati sui et testimonium quia superbis resistis; et tamen laudare te uult homo, aliqua portio creaturae tuae. Tu excitas ut laudare te delectet, quia fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te. Da mihi, Domine, scire et intellegere utrum sit prius inuocare te an laudare te, et scire te prius sit an inuocare te. Sed quis te inuocat nesciens te? Aliud enim pro alio potest inuocare nesciens. An potius inuocaris ut sciaris? Quomodo autem inuocabunt, in quem non crediderunt? Aut quomodo credent sine praedicante? Et laudabunt Dominum qui requirunt eum: quaerentes enim inveniunt eum et invenientes laudabunt eum. Quaeram te, Domine, inuocans te et inuocem te credens in te: praedicatus enim es nobis. Inuocat te, Domine, fides mea, quam dedisti mihi, quam inspirasti mihi per humanitatem filii tui, per ministerium praedicatoris tui. 1. Great are You, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Your power, and of Your wisdom there is no end. And man, being a part of Your creation, desires to praise You, man, who bears about with him his mortality, the witness of his sin, even the witness that You resist the proud, — yet man, this part of Your creation, desires to praise You. You move us to delight in praising You; for You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You. Lord, teach me to know and understand which of these should be first, to call on You, or to praise You; and likewise to know You, or to call upon You. But who is there that calls upon You without knowing You? For he that knows You not may call upon You as other than You are. Or perhaps we call on You that we may know You. But how shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe without a preacher? Romans 10:14 And those who seek the Lord shall praise Him. For those who seek shall find Him, Matthew 7:7 and those who find Him shall praise Him. Let me seek You, Lord, in calling on You, and call on You in believing in You; for You have been preached unto us. O Lord, my faith calls on You—that faith which You have imparted to me, which You have breathed into me through the incarnation of Your Son, through the ministry of Your preacher.
1.2.2 Et quomodo inuocabo Deum meum, Deum et Dominum meum, quoniam utique in me ipsum eum vocabo, cum inuocabo eum? Et quis locus est in me quo veniat in me Deus meus, quo Deus veniat in me, Deus, qui fecit caelum et terram? Itane, Domine Deus meus, est quicquam in me quod capiat te? An vero caelum et terra, quae fecisti et in quibus me fecisti, capiunt te? An quia sine te non esset quidquid est, fit ut quidquid est capiat te? Quoniam itaque et ego sum, quid peto ut venias in me, qui non essem nisi esses in me? Non enim ego iam inferi, et tamen etiam ibi es, nam etsi descendero in infernum, ades. Non ergo essem, Deus meus, non omnino essem, nisi esses in me. An potius non essem nisi essem in te, ex quo omnia, per quem omnia, in quo omnia? Etiam Sic, Domine, etiam sic. Quo te inuoco, cum in te sim? Aut unde venias in me? Quo enim recedam extra caelum et terram, ut inde in me veniat Deus meus, qui dixit, 'caelum et terram ego impleo'? 2. And how shall I call upon my God— my God and my Lord? For when I call on Him I ask Him to come into me. And what place is there in me into which my God can come— into which God can come, even He who made heaven and earth? Is there anything in me, O Lord my God, that can contain You? Do indeed the very heaven and the earth, which You have made, and in which You have made me, contain You? Or, as nothing could exist without You, does whatever exists contain You? Why, then, do I ask You to come into me, since I indeed exist, and could not exist if You were not in me? Because I am not yet in hell, though You are even there; for if I go down into hell You are there. I could not therefore exist, could not exist at all, O my God, unless You were in me. Or should I not rather say, that I could not exist unless I were in You from whom are all things, by whom are all things, in whom are all things? Romans 11:36 Even so, Lord; even so. Where do I call You to, since You are in me, or whence canst Thou come into me? For where outside heaven and earth can I go that from thence my God may come into me who has said, I fill heaven and earth? Jeremiah 23:24
1.3.3 Capiunt ergone te caelum et terra, quoniam tu imples ea? An imples et restat, quoniam non te capiunt? Et quo refundis quidquid impleto caelo et terra restat ex te? An non opus habes ut quoquam continearis, qui contines omnia, quoniam quae imples continendo imples? Non enim uasa quae te plena sunt stabilem te faciunt, quia etsi frangantur non effunderis. Et cum effunderis super nos, non tu iaces sed erigis nos, nec tu dissiparis sed colligis nos. Sed quae imples omnia, te toto imples omnia. An quia non possunt te totum capere omnia, partem tui capiunt et eandem partem simul omnia capiunt? An singulas singula et maiores maiora, minores minora capiunt? Ergo est aliqua pars tua maior, aliqua minor? An ubique totus es et res nulla te totum capit? 3. Since, then, You fill heaven and earth, do they contain You? Or, as they contain You not, do You fill them, and yet there remains something over? And where do You pour forth that which remains of You when the heaven and earth are filled? Or, indeed, is there no need that You who contains all things should be contained of any, since those things which You fill You fill by containing them? For the vessels which You fill do not sustain You, since should they even be broken You will not be poured forth. And when You are poured forth on us, Acts 2:18 You are not cast down, but we are uplifted; nor are You dissipated, but we are drawn together. But, as You fill all things, fill them with Your whole self, or, as even all things cannot altogether contain You, do they contain a part, and do all at once contain the same part? Or has each its own proper part— the greater more, the smaller less? Is, then, one part of You greater, another less? Or is it that You are wholly everywhere while nothing altogether contains You?
1.4.4 Quid es ergo, Deus meus? Quid, rogo, nisi Dominus Deus? Quis enim Dominus praeter Dominum? Aut quis Deus praeter Deum nostrum? Summe, optime, potentissime, omnipotentissime, misericordissime et iustissime, secretissime et praesentissime, pulcherrime et fortissime, stabilis et incomprehensibilis, immutabilis mutans omnia, numquam nouus numquam uetus, innouans omnia et in uetustatem perducens superbos et nesciunt. Semper agens semper quietus, colligens et non egens, portans et implens et protegens, creans et nutriens et perficiens, quaerens cum nihil desit tibi. Amas nec aestuas, zelas et securus es, paenitet te et non doles, irasceris et tranquillus es, opera mutas nec mutas consilium, recipis quod invenis et numquam amisisti. Numquam inops et gaudes lucris, numquam auarus et usuras exigis, supererogatur tibi ut debeas: et quis habet quicquam non tuum? Reddis debita nulli debens, donas debita nihil perdens. Et quid diximus, Deus meus, vita mea, dulcedo mea sancta, aut quid dicit aliquis cum de te dicit? Et uae tacentibus de te, quoniam loquaces muti sunt. 4. What, then, are You, O my God— what, I ask, but the Lord God? For who is Lord but the Lord? Or who is God save our God? Most high, most excellent, most potent, most omnipotent; most piteous and most just; most hidden and most near; most beauteous and most strong, stable, yet contained of none; unchangeable, yet changing all things; never new, never old; making all things new, yet bringing old age upon the proud and they know it not; always working, yet ever at rest; gathering, yet needing nothing; sustaining, pervading, and protecting; creating, nourishing, and developing; seeking, and yet possessing all things. You love, and burn not; You are jealous, yet free from care; You repent, and have no sorrow; You are angry, yet serene; You change Your ways, leaving unchanged Your plans; You recover what You find, having yet never lost; You are never in want, while You rejoice in gain; You are never covetous, though requiring usury. Matthew 25:27 That You may owe, more than enough is given to You; yet who has anything that is not Yours? You pay debts while owing nothing; and when You forgive debts, lose nothing. Yet, O my God, my life, my holy joy, what is this that I have said? And what says any man when He speaks of You? Yet woe to them that keep silence, seeing that even they who say most are as the dumb.
1.5.5 Quis mihi dabit adquiescere in te? Quis dabit mihi ut venias in cor meum et inebries illud, ut obliviscar mala mea et unum bonum meum amplectar, te? Quid mihi es? Miserere ut loquar. Quid tibi sum ipse, ut amari te iubeas a me et, nisi faciam, irascaris mihi et mineris ingentes miserias? Panane ipsa est si non amem te? Ei mihi! Dic mihi per miserationes tuas, Domine Deus meus, quid sis mihi. Dic animae meae, 'salus tua ego sum': sic dic ut audiam. Ecce aures cordis mei ante te, Domine. Aperi eas et dic animae meae, 'salus tua ego sum.' Curram post vocem hanc et apprehendam te. Noli abscondere a me faciem tuam: moriar, ne moriar, ut eam videam. 5. Oh! How shall I find rest in You? Who will send You into my heart to inebriate it, so that I may forget my woes, and embrace You my only good? What are You to me? Have compassion on me, that I may speak. What am I to You that You demand my love, and unless I give it You art angry, and threatenest me with great sorrows? Is it, then, a light sorrow not to love You? Alas! Alas! Tell me of Your compassion, O Lord my God, what You are to me. Say unto my soul, I am your salvation. So speak that I may hear. Behold, Lord, the ears of my heart are before You; open them, and say unto my soul, I am your salvation. When I hear, may I run and lay hold on You. Hide not Your face from me. Let me die, lest I die, if only I may see Your face.
1.5.6 Angusta est domus animae meae quo venias ad eam: dilatetur abs te. Ruinosa est: refice eam. Habet quae offendant oculos tuos: fateor et scio. Sed quis mundabit eam? Aut cui alteri praeter te clamabo, 'ab occultis meis munda me, Domine, et ab alienis parce seno tuo?' credo, propter quod et loquor, Domine: tu scis. Nonne tibi prolocutus sum adversum me delicta mea, Deus meus, et tu dimisisti impietatem cordis mei? Non iudicio contendo tecum, qui veritas es, et ego nolo fallere me ipsum, ne mentiatur iniquitas mea sibi. Non ergo iudicio contendo tecum, quia, si iniquitates obsenaveris, Domine, Domine, quis sustinebit? 6. Cramped is the dwelling of my soul; expand it, that You may enter in. It is in ruins, restore it. There is that about it which must offend Your eyes; I confess and know it, but who will cleanse it? Or to whom shall I cry but to You? Cleanse me from my secret sins, O Lord, and keep Your servant from those of other men. I believe, and therefore do I speak; Lord, You know. Have I not confessed my transgressions unto You, O my God; and You have put away the iniquity of my heart? I do not contend in judgment with You, Job 9:3 who art the Truth; and I would not deceive myself, lest my iniquity lie against itself. I do not, therefore, contend in judgment with You, for if You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
1.6.7 Sed tamen sine me loqui apud misericordiam tuam, me terram et cinerem sine tamen loqui. Quoniam ecce misericordia tua est, non homo, inrisor meus, cui loquor. Et tu fortasse inrides me, sed conversus misereberis mei. Quid enim est quod volo dicere, Domine, nisi quia nescio unde venerim huc, in istam dico vitam mortalem an mortem vitalem? Nescio. Et susceperunt me consolationes miserationum tuarum, sicut audivi a parentibus carnis meae, ex quo et in qua me formasti in tempore: non enim ego memini. Exceperunt ergo me consolationes lactis humani, nec mater mea vel nutrices meae sibi ubera implebant, sed tu mihi per eas dabas alimentum infantiae secundum institutionem tuam et divitias usque ad fundum rerum dispositas. Tu etiam mihi dabas nolle amplius quam dabas, et nutrientibus me dare mihi velle quod eis dabas: dare enim mihi per ordinatum affectum volebant quo abundabant ex te. Nam bonum erat eis bonum meum ex eis, quod ex eis non sed per eas erat. Ex te quippe bona omnia, Deus, et ex Deo meo salus mihi universa. Quod animadverti postmodum, clamante te mihi per haec ipsa quae tribuis intus et foris. Nam tunc sugere noram et adquiescere delectationibus, flere autem offensiones carnis meae, nihil amplius. 7. Still suffer me to speak before Your mercy— me, dust and ashes. Genesis 18:27 Allow me to speak, for, behold, it is Your mercy I address, and not derisive man. Yet perhaps even You deride me; but when You are turned to me You will have compassion on me. Jeremiah 12:15 For what do I wish to say, O Lord my God, but that I know not whence I came hither into this— shall I call it dying life or living death? Yet, as I have heard from my parents, from whose substance You formed me—for I myself cannot remember it—Your merciful comforts sustained me. Thus it was that the comforts of a woman's milk entertained me; for neither my mother nor my nurses filled their own breasts, but You by them gave me the nourishment of infancy according to Your ordinance and that bounty of Yours which underlies all things. For You caused me not to want more than You gave, and those who nourished me willingly to give me what You gave them. For they, by an instinctive affection, were anxious to give me what You had abundantly supplied. It was, in truth, good for them that my good should come from them, though, indeed, it was not from them, but by them; for from You, O God, are all good things, and from my God is all my safety. Proverbs 21:31 This is what I have since discovered, as You have declared Yourself to me by the blessings both within me and without me which You have bestowed upon me. For at that time I knew how to suck, to be satisfied when comfortable, and to cry when in pain— nothing beyond.
1.6.8 Post et ridere coepi, dormiens primo, deinde vigilans. Hoc enim de me mihi indicatum est et credidi, quoniam sic videmus alios infantes: nam ista mea non memini. Et ecce paulatim sentiebam ubi essem, et voluntates meas volebam ostendere eis per quos implerentur, et non poteram, quia illae intus erant, foris autem illi, nec ullo suo sensu valebant introire in animam meam. Itaque iactabam membra et voces, signa similia voluntatibus meis, pauca quae poteram, qualia poteram: non enim erant vere similia. Et cum mihi non obtemperabatur, vel non intellecto vel ne obesset, indignabar non subditis maioribus et liberis non senientibus, et me de illis flendo vindicabam. Tales esse infantes didici quos discere potui, et me talem fuisse magis mihi ipsi indicaverunt nescientes quam scientes nutritores mei. 8. Afterwards I began to laugh—at first in sleep, then when waking. For this I have heard mentioned of myself, and I believe it (though I cannot remember it), for we see the same in other infants. And now little by little I realized where I was, and wished to tell my wishes to those who might satisfy them, but I could not; for my wants were within me, while they were without, and could not by any faculty of theirs enter into my soul. So I cast about limbs and voice, making the few and feeble signs I could, like, though indeed not much like, unto what I wished; and when I was not satisfied— either not being understood, or because it would have been injurious to me— I grew indignant that my elders were not subject unto me, and that those on whom I had no claim did not wait on me, and avenged myself on them by tears. That infants are such I have been able to learn by watching them; and they, though unknowing, have better shown me that I was such an one than my nurses who knew it.
1.6.9 Et ecce infantia mea olim mortua est et ego vivo. Tu autem, Domine, qui et semper vivis et nihil moritur in te, quoniam ante primordia saeculorum, et ante omne quod vel ante dici potest, tu es et Deus es Dominusque omnium, quae creasti, et apud te rerum omnium instabilium stant causae, et rerum omnium mutabilium immutabiles manent origines, et omnium inrationalium et temporalium sempiternae vivunt rationes, dic mihi supplici tuo, Deus, et misericors misero tuo dic mihi, utrum alicui iam aetati meae mortuae successerit infantia mea. An illa est quam egi intra viscera matris meae? Nam et de illa mihi nonnihil indicatum est et praegnantes ipse vidi feminas. Quid ante hanc etiam, dulcedo mea, Deus meus? Fuine alicubi aut aliquis? Nam quis mihi dicat ista, non habeo; nec pater nec mater potuerunt, nec aliorum experimentum nec memoria mea. An inrides me ista quaerentem teque de hoc quod novi laudari a me iubes et confiteri me tibi? 9. And, behold, my infancy died long ago, and I live. But You, O Lord, who ever livest, and in whom nothing dies (since before the world was, and indeed before all that can be called before, You exist, and are the God and Lord of all Your creatures; and with You fixedly abide the causes of all unstable things, the unchanging sources of all things changeable, and the eternal reasons of all things unreasoning and temporal), tell me, Your suppliant, O God; tell, O merciful One, Your miserable servant — tell me whether my infancy succeeded another age of mine which had at that time perished. Was it that which I passed in my mother's womb? For of that something has been made known to me, and I have myself seen women with child. And what, O God, my joy, preceded that life? Was I, indeed, anywhere, or anybody? For no one can tell me these things, neither father nor mother, nor the experience of others, nor my own memory. Do you laugh at me for asking such things, and command me to praise and confess You for what I know?
1.6.10 Confiteor tibi, Domine caeli et terrae, laudem dicens tibi de primordiis et infantia mea, quae non memini. Et dedisti ea homini ex aliis de se conicere et auctoritatibus etiam muliercularum multa de se credere. Eram enim et vivebam etiam tunc, et signa quibus sensa mea nota aliis facerem iam in fine infantiae quaerebam. Unde hoc tale animal nisi abs te, Domine? An quisquam se faciendi erit artifex? Aut ulla vena trahitur aliunde qua esse et vivere currat in nos, praeterquam quod tu facis nos, Domine, cui esse et vivere non aliud atque aliud, quia summe esse ac summe vivere idipsum est? Summus enim es et non mutaris, neque peragitur in te hodiernus dies, et tamen in te peragitur, quia in te sunt et ista omnia: non enim haberent vias transeundi, nisi contineres eas. Et quoniam anni tui non deficiunt, anni tui hodiernus dies. Et quam multi iam dies nostri et patrum nostrorum per hodiernum tuum transierunt et ex illo acceperunt modos et utcumque extiterunt, et transibunt adhuc alii et accipient et utcumque existent. Tu autem idem ipse es et omnia crastina atque ultra omniaque hesterna et retro hodie facies, hodie fecisti. Quid ad me, si quis non intellegat? Gaudeat et ipse dicens, 'quid est hoc?' gaudeat etiam sic, et amet non inveniendo invenire potius quam inveniendo non invenire te. 10. I give thanks to You, Lord of heaven and earth, giving praise to You for that my first being and infancy, of which I have no memory; for You have granted to man that from others he should come to conclusions as to himself, and that he should believe many things concerning himself on the authority of feeble women. Even then I had life and being; and as my infancy closed I was already seeking for signs by which my feelings might be made known to others. Whence could such a creature come but from You, O Lord? Or shall any man be skilful enough to fashion himself? Or is there any other vein by which being and life runs into us save this, that You, O Lord, hast made us, with whom being and life are one, because You Yourself art being and life in the highest? You are the highest, You change not, Malachi 3:6 neither in You does this present day come to an end, though it does end in You, since in You all such things are; for they would have no way of passing away unless You sustained them. And since Your years shall have no end, Your years are an ever present day. And how many of ours and our fathers' days have passed through this Your day, and received from it their measure and fashion of being, and others yet to come shall so receive and pass away! But You are the same; and all the things of tomorrow and the days yet to come, and all of yesterday and the days that are past, You will do today, You have done today. What is it to me if any understand not? Let him still rejoice and say, What is this? Let him rejoice even so, and rather love to discover in failing to discover, than in discovering not to discover You.
1.7.11 Exaudi, Deus. Vae peccatis hominum! Et homo dicit haec, et misereris eius, quoniam tu fecisti eum et peccatum non fecisti in eo. Quis me commemorat peccatum infantiae meae, quoniam nemo mundus a peccato coram te, nec infans cuius est unius diei vita super terram? Quis me commemorat? An quilibet tantillus nunc paruulus, in quo video quod non memini de me? Quid ergo tunc peccabam? An quia uberibus inhiabam plorans? Nam si nunc faciam, non quidem uberibus sed escae congruenti annis meis ita inhians, deridebor atque reprehendar iustissime. Tunc ergo reprehendenda faciebam, sed quia reprehendentem intellegere non poteram, nec mos reprehendi me nec ratio sinebat: nam extirpamus et eicimus ista crescentes. Nec vidi quemquam scientem, cum aliquid purgat, bona proicere. An pro tempore etiam illa bona erant, flendo petere etiam quod noxie daretur, indignari acriter non subiectis hominibus liberis et maioribus hisque, a quibus genitus est, multisque praeterea prudentioribus non ad nutum voluntatis obtemperantibus feriendo nocere niti quantum potest, quia non oboeditur imperiis quibus perniciose oboediretur? Ita imbecillitas membrorum infantilium innocens est, non animus infantium. Vidi ego et expertus sum zelantem panulum: nondum loquebatur et intuebatur pallidus amaro aspectu collactaneum suum. Quis hoc ignorat? Expiare se dicunt ista matres atque nutrices nescio quibus remediis. Nisi vero et ista innocentia est, in fonte lactis ubertim manante atque abundante opis egentissimum et illo adhuc uno alimento vitam ducentem consortem non pati. Sed blande tolerantur haec, non quia nulla vel pana, sed quia aetatis accessu peritura sunt. Quod licet probes, cum ferri aequo animo eadem ipsa non possunt quando in aliquo annosiore deprehenduntur. 11. Hearken, O God! Alas for the sins of men! Man says this, and You have compassion on him; for You created him, but did not create the sin that is in him. Who brings to my remembrance the sin of my infancy? For before You none is free from sin, not even the infant which has lived but a day upon the earth. Who brings this to my remembrance? Does not each little one, in whom I behold that which I do not remember of myself? In what, then, did I sin? Is it that I cried for the breast? If I should now so cry—not indeed for the breast, but for the food suitable to my years—I should be most justly laughed at and rebuked. What I then did deserved rebuke; but as I could not understand those who rebuked me, neither custom nor reason suffered me to be rebuked. For as we grow we root out and cast from us such habits. I have not seen any one who is wise, when purging John 15:2 anything cast away the good. Or was it good, even for a time, to strive to get by crying that which, if given, would be hurtful— to be bitterly indignant that those who were free and its elders, and those to whom it owed its being, besides many others wiser than it, who would not give way to the nod of its good pleasure, were not subject unto it— to endeavour to harm, by struggling as much as it could, because those commands were not obeyed which only could have been obeyed to its hurt? Then, in the weakness of the infant's limbs, and not in its will, lies its innocency. I myself have seen and known an infant to be jealous though it could not speak. It became pale, and cast bitter looks on its foster-brother. Who is ignorant of this? Mothers and nurses tell us that they appease these things by I know not what remedies; and may this be taken for innocence, that when the fountain of milk is flowing fresh and abundant, one who has need should not be allowed to share it, though needing that nourishment to sustain life? Yet we look leniently on these things, not because they are not faults, nor because the faults are small, but because they will vanish as age increases. For although you may allow these things now, you could not bear them with equanimity if found in an older person.
1.7.12 Tu itaque, Domine Deus meus, qui dedisti vitam infanti et corpus, quod ita, ut videmus, instruxisti sensibus, compegisti membris, figura decorasti proque eius universitate atque incolumitate omnes conatus animantis insinuasti, iubes me laudare te in istis et confiteri tibi et psallere nomini tuo, altissime, quia Deus es omnipotens et bonus, etiamsi sola ista fecisses, quae nemo alius potest facere nisi tu, une, a quo est omnis modus, formosissime, qui formas omnia et lege tua ordinas omnia. Hanc ergo aetatem, Domine, quam me vixisse non memini, de qua aliis credidi et quam me egisse ex aliis infantibus conieci, quamquam ista multum fida coniectura sit, piget me adnumerare huic vitae meae quam vivo in hoc saeculo. Quantum enim attinet ad oblivionis meae tenebras, par illi est quam vixi in matris utero. Quod si et in iniquitate conceptus sum et in peccatis mater mea me in utero aluit, ubi, oro te, Deus meus, ubi, Domine, ego, senus tuus, ubi aut quando innocens fui? Sed ecce omitto illud tempus: et quid mihi iam cum eo est, cuius nulla uestigia recolo? 12. You, therefore, O Lord my God, who gavest life to the infant, and a frame which, as we see, You have endowed with senses, compacted with limbs, beautified with form, and, for its general good and safety, hast introduced all vital energies— You command me to praise You for these things, to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praise unto Your name, O Most High; for You are a God omnipotent and good, though You had done nought but these things, which none other can do but You, who alone made all things, O Thou most fair, who made all things fair, and orders all according to Your law. This period, then, of my life, O Lord, of which I have no remembrance, which I believe in the word of others, and which I guess from other infants, it chagrins me— true though the guess be— to reckon in this life of mine which I lead in this world; inasmuch as, in the darkness of my forgetfulness, it is like to that which I passed in my mother's womb. But if I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me, where, I pray you, O my God, where, Lord, or when was I, Your servant, innocent? But behold, I pass by that time, for what have I to do with that, the memories of which I cannot recall?
1.8.13 Nonne ab infantia huc pergens veni in pueritiam? Vel potius ipsa in me venit et successit infantiae? Nec discessit illa: quo enim abiit? Et tamen iam non erat. Non enim eram infans qui non farer, sed iam puer loquens eram. Et memini hoc, et unde loqui didiceram post adverti. Non enim docebant me maiores homines, praebentes mihi verba certo aliquo ordine doctrinae sicut paulo post litteras, sed ego ipse mente quam dedisti mihi, Deus meus, cum gemitibus et vocibus variis et variis membrorum motibus edere vellem sensa cordis mei, ut voluntati pareretur, nec valerem quae volebam omnia nec quibus volebam omnibus, prensabam memoria. Cum ipsi appellabant rem aliquam et cum secundum eam vocem corpus ad aliquid movebant, videbam et tenebam hoc ab eis vocari rem illam quod sonabant cum eam vellent ostendere. Hoc autem eos velle ex motu corporis aperiebatur tamquam verbis naturalibus omnium gentium, quae fiunt uultu et nutu oculorum caeterorumque membrorum actu et sonitu vocis indicante affectionem animi in petendis, habendis, reiciendis fugiendisue rebus. Ita verba in variis sententiis locis suis posita et crebro audita quarum rerum signa essent paulatim colligebam measque iam voluntates edomito in eis signis ore per haec enuntiabam. Sic cum his inter quos eram voluntatum enuntiandarum signa communicavi, et vitae humanae procellosam societatem altius ingressus sum, pendens ex parentum auctoritate nutuque maiorum hominum. 13. Did I not, then, growing out of the state of infancy, come to boyhood, or rather did it not come to me, and succeed to infancy? Nor did my infancy depart (for whither went it?); and yet it did no longer abide, for I was no longer an infant that could not speak, but a chattering boy. I remember this, and I afterwards observed how I first learned to speak, for my elders did not teach me words in any set method, as they did letters afterwards; but myself, when I was unable to say all I wished and to whomsoever I desired, by means of the whimperings and broken utterances and various motions of my limbs, which I used to enforce my wishes, repeated the sounds in my memory by the mind, O my God, which You gave me. When they called anything by name, and moved the body towards it while they spoke, I saw and gathered that the thing they wished to point out was called by the name they then uttered; and that they did mean this was made plain by the motion of the body, even by the natural language of all nations expressed by the countenance, glance of the eye, movement of other members, and by the sound of the voice indicating the affections of the mind, as it seeks, possesses, rejects, or avoids. So it was that by frequently hearing words, in duly placed sentences, I gradually gathered what things they were the signs of; and having formed my mouth to the utterance of these signs, I thereby expressed my will. Thus I exchanged with those about me the signs by which we express our wishes, and advanced deeper into the stormy fellowship of human life, depending the while on the authority of parents, and the beck of elders.
1.9.14 Deus, Deus meus, quas ibi miserias expertus sum et ludificationes, quandoquidem recte mihi vivere puero id proponebatur, obtemperare monentibus, ut in hoc saeculo florerem et excellerem linguosis artibus ad honorem hominum et falsas divitias famulantibus . Inde in scholam datus sum ut discerem litteras, in quibus quid utilitatis esset ignorabam miser. Et tamen, si segnis in discendo essem, uapulabam. Laudabatur enim hoc a maioribus, et multi ante nos vitam istam agentes praestruxerant aerumnosas vias, per quas transire cogebamur multiplicato labore et dolore filiis Adam. Invenimus autem, Domine, homines rogantes te et didicimus ab eis, sentientes te, ut poteramus, esse magnum aliquem qui posses etiam non apparens sensibus nostris exaudire nos et subvenire nobis. Nam puer coepi rogare te, auxilium et refugium meum, et in tuam inuocationem rumpebam nodos linguae meae et rogabam te panus non paruo affectu, ne in schola uapularem. Et cum me non exaudiebas, quod non erat ad insipientiam mihi, ridebantur a maioribus hominibus usque ab ipsis parentibus, qui mihi accidere mali nihil volebant, plagae meae, magnum tunc et grave malum meum. 14. O my God! What miseries and mockeries did I then experience, when obedience to my teachers was set before me as proper to my boyhood, that I might flourish in this world, and distinguish myself in the science of speech, which should get me honour among men, and deceitful riches! After that I was put to school to get learning, of which I (worthless as I was) knew not what use there was; and yet, if slow to learn, I was flogged! For this was deemed praiseworthy by our forefathers; and many before us, passing the same course, had appointed beforehand for us these troublesome ways by which we were compelled to pass, multiplying labour and sorrow upon the sons of Adam. But we found, O Lord, men praying to You, and we learned from them to conceive of You, according to our ability, to be some Great One, who was able (though not visible to our senses) to hear and help us. For as a boy I began to pray to You, my help and my refuge, and in invoking You broke the bands of my tongue, and entreated You though little, with no little earnestness, that I might not be beaten at school. And when You hearded me not, giving me not over to folly thereby, my elders, yea, and my own parents too, who wished me no ill, laughed at my stripes, my then great and grievous ill.
1.9.15 Estne quisquam, Domine, tam magnus animus, praegrandi affectu tibi cohaerens, estne, inquam, quisquam (facit enim hoc quaedam etiam stoliditas: est ergo), qui tibi pie cohaerendo ita sit affectus granditer, ut eculeos et ungulas atque huiuscemodi varia tormenta (pro quibus effugiendis tibi per universas terras cum timore magno supplicatur) ita pani aestimet, diligens eos qui haec acerbissime formidant, quemadmodum parentes nostri ridebant tormenta quibus pueri a magistris affligebamur? Non enim aut minus ea metuebamus aut minus te de his euadendis deprecabamur, et peccabamus tamen minus scribendo aut legendo aut cogitando de litteris quam exigebatur a nobis. Non enim deerat, Domine, memoria vel ingenium, quae nos habere voluisti pro illa aetate satis, sed delectabat ludere et vindicabatur in nos ab eis qui talia utique agebant. Sed maiorum nugae negotia vocantur, puerorum autem talia cum sint, puniuntur a maioribus, et nemo miseratur pueros vel illos vel utrosque. Nisi vero approbat quisquam bonus rerum arbiter uapulasse me, quia ludebam pila puer et eo ludo impediebar quominus celeriter discerem litteras, quibus maior deformius luderem. Aut aliud faciebat idem ipse a quo uapulabam, qui si in aliqua quaestiuncula a condoctore suo victus esset, magis bile atque inuidia torqueretur quam ego, cum in certamine pilae a collusore meo superabar? 15. Is there any one, Lord, with so high a spirit, cleaving to You with so strong an affection— for even a kind of obtuseness may do that much— but is there, I say, any one who, by cleaving devoutly to You, is endowed with so great a courage that he can esteem lightly those racks and hooks, and varied tortures of the same sort, against which, throughout the whole world, men supplicate You with great fear, deriding those who most bitterly fear them, just as our parents derided the torments with which our masters punished us when we were boys? For we were no less afraid of our pains, nor did we pray less to You to avoid them; and yet we sinned, in writing, or reading, or reflecting upon our lessons less than was required of us. For we wanted not, O Lord, memory or capacity, of which, by Your will, we possessed enough for our age—but we delighted only in play; and we were punished for this by those who were doing the same things themselves. But the idleness of our elders they call business, while boys who do the like are punished by those same elders, and yet neither boys nor men find any pity. For will any one of good sense approve of my being whipped because, as a boy, I played ball, and so was hindered from learning quickly those lessons by means of which, as a man, I should play more unbecomingly? And did he by whom I was beaten do other than this, who, when he was overcome in any little controversy with a co-tutor, was more tormented by anger and envy than I when beaten by a playfellow in a match at ball?
1.10.16 Et tamen peccabam, Domine Deus, ordinator et creator rerum omnium naturalium, peccatorum autem tantum ordinator, Domine Deus meus, peccabam faciendo contra praecepta parentum et magistrorum illorum. Poteram enim postea bene uti litteris, quas volebant ut discerem quocumque animo illi mei. Non enim meliora eligens inoboediens eram, sed amore ludendi, amans in certaminibus superbas victorias et scalpi aures meas falsis fabellis, quo prurirent ardentius, eadem curiositate magis magisque per oculos emicante in spectacula, ludos maiorum -- quos tamen qui edunt, ea dignitate praediti excellunt, ut hoc paene omnes optent panulis suis, quos tamen caedi libenter patiuntur, si spectaculis talibus impediantur ab studio quo eos ad talia edenda cupiunt penenire. Vide ista, Domine, misericorditer, et libera nos iam inuocantes te, libera etiam eos qui nondum te inuocant, ut inuocent te et liberes eos. 16. And yet I erred, O Lord God, the Creator and Disposer of all things in Nature,— but of sin the Disposer only—I erred, O Lord my God, in doing contrary to the wishes of my parents and of those masters; for this learning which they (no matter for what motive) wished me to acquire, I might have put to good account afterwards. For I disobeyed them not because I had chosen a better way, but from a fondness for play, loving the honour of victory in the matches, and to have my ears tickled with lying fables, in order that they might itch the more furiously— the same curiosity beaming more and more in my eyes for the shows and sports of my elders. Yet those who give these entertainments are held in such high repute, that almost all desire the same for their children, whom they are still willing should be beaten, if so be these same games keep them from the studies by which they desire them to arrive at being the givers of them. Look down upon these things, O Lord, with compassion, and deliver us who now call upon You; deliver those also who do not call upon You, that they may call upon You, and that You may deliver them.
1.11.17 Audieram enim ego adhuc puer de vita aeterna promissa nobis per humilitatem Domini Dei nostri descendentis ad superbiam nostram, et signabar iam signo crucis eius, et condiebar eius sale iam inde ab utero matris meae, quae multum speravit in te. Vidisti, Domine, cum adhuc puer essem et quodam die pressu stomachi repente aestuarem paene moriturus, vidisti, Deus meus, quoniam custos meus iam eras, quo motu animi et qua fide baptismum Christi tui, Dei et Domini mei, flagitavi a pietate matris meae et matris omnium nostrum, ecclesiae tuae. Et conturbata mater carnis meae, quoniam et sempiternam salutem meam carius parturiebat corde casto in fide tua, iam curaret festinabunda ut sacramentis salutaribus initiarer et abluerer, te, Domine Iesu, confitens in remissionem peccatorum, nisi statim recreatus essem. Dilata est itaque mundatio mea, quasi necesse esset ut adhuc sordidarer si viverem, quia videlicet post lauacrum illud maior et periculosior in sordibus delictorum reatus foret. Ita iam credebam et illa et omnis domus, nisi pater solus, qui tamen non evicit in me ius maternae pietatis, quominus in Christum crederem, sicut ille nondum crediderat. Nam illa satagebat ut tu mihi pater esses, Deus meus, potius quam ille, et in hoc adivuabas eam, ut superaret virum, cui melior seniebat, quia et in hoc tibi utique id iubenti seniebat. 17. Even as a boy I had heard of eternal life promised to us through the humility of the Lord our God condescending to our pride, and I was signed with the sign of the cross, and was seasoned with His salt even from the womb of my mother, who greatly trusted in You. You saw, O Lord, how at one time, while yet a boy, being suddenly seized with pains in the stomach, and being at the point of death— You saw, O my God, for even then You were my keeper, with what emotion of mind and with what faith I solicited from the piety of my mother, and of Your Church, the mother of us all, the baptism of Your Christ, my Lord and my God. On which, the mother of my flesh being much troubled—since she, with a heart pure in Your faith, travailed in birth Galatians 4:19 more lovingly for my eternal salvation—would, had I not quickly recovered, have without delay provided for my initiation and washing by Your life-giving sacraments, confessing You, O Lord Jesus, for the remission of sins. So my cleansing was deferred, as if I must needs, should I live, be further polluted; because, indeed, the guilt contracted by sin would, after baptism, be greater and more perilous. Thus I at that time believed with my mother and the whole house, except my father; yet he did not overcome the influence of my mother's piety in me so as to prevent my believing in Christ, as he had not yet believed in Him. For she was desirous that You, O my God, should be my Father rather than he; and in this You aided her to overcome her husband, to whom, though the better of the two, she yielded obedience, because in this she yielded obedience to You, who so commands.
1.11.18 Rogo te, Deus meus: vellem scire, si tu etiam velles, quo consilio dilatus sum ne tunc baptizarer, utrum bono meo mihi quasi laxata sint lora peccandi. An non laxata sunt? Unde ergo etiam nunc de aliis atque aliis sonat undique in auribus nostris: 'sine illum, faciat: nondum enim baptizatus est.' Et tamen in salute corporis non dicimus: 'sine uulneretur amplius: nondum enim sanatus est.' Quanto ergo melius et cito sanarer et id ageretur mecum meorum meaque diligentia, ut recepta salus animae meae tuta esset tutela tua, qui dedisses eam. Melius vero. Sed quot et quanti fluctus impendere temptationum post pueritiam videbantur, noverat eos iam illa mater et terram per eos, unde postea formarer, quam ipsam iam effigiem committere volebat. 18. I beseech You, my God, I would gladly know, if it be Your will, to what end my baptism was then deferred? Was it for my good that the reins were slackened, as it were, upon me for me to sin? Or were they not slackened? If not, whence comes it that it is still dinned into our ears on all sides, Let him alone, let him act as he likes, for he is not yet baptized? But as regards bodily health, no one exclaims, Let him be more seriously wounded, for he is not yet cured! How much better, then, had it been for me to have been cured at once; and then, by my own and my friends' diligence, my soul's restored health had been kept safe in Your keeping, who gavest it! Better, in truth. But how numerous and great waves of temptation appeared to hang over me after my childhood! These were foreseen by my mother; and she preferred that the unformed clay should be exposed to them rather than the image itself.
1.12.19 In ipsa tamen pueritia, de qua mihi minus quam de adulescentia metuebatur, non amabam litteras et me in eas urgeri oderam, et urgebar tamen et bene mihi fiebat. Nec faciebam ego bene (non enim discerem nisi cogerer; nemo autem inuitus bene facit, etiamsi bonum est quod facit), nec qui me urgebant bene faciebant, sed bene mihi fiebat abs te, Deus meus. Illi enim non intuebantur quo referrem quod me discere cogebant, praeterquam ad satiandas insatiabiles cupiditates copiosae inopiae et ignominiosae gloriae. Tu vero, cui numerati sunt capilli nostri, errore omnium qui mihi instabant ut discerem utebaris ad utilitatem meam, meo autem, qui discere nolebam, utebaris ad poenam meam, qua plecti non eram indignus, tantillus puer et tantus peccator. Ita de non bene facientibus tu bene faciebas mihi et de peccante me ipso iuste retribuebas mihi. Iussisti enim et sic est, ut poena sua sibi sit omnis inordinatus animus. 19. But in this my childhood (which was far less dreaded for me than youth) I had no love of learning, and hated to be forced to it, yet was I forced to it notwithstanding; and this was well done towards me, but I did not well, for I would not have learned had I not been compelled. For no man does well against his will, even if that which he does be well. Neither did they who forced me do well, but the good that was done to me came from You, my God. For they considered not in what way I should employ what they forced me to learn, unless to satisfy the inordinate desires of a rich beggary and a shameful glory. But You, by whom the very hairs of our heads are numbered, Matthew 10:30 used for my good the error of all who pressed me to learn; and my own error in willing not to learn, You made use of for my punishment— of which I, being so small a boy and so great a sinner, was not unworthy. Thus by the instrumentality of those who did not well did You do well for me; and by my own sin You justly punished me. For it is even as You have appointed, that every inordinate affection should bring its own punishment.
1.13.20 Quid autem erat causae cur graecas litteras oderam, quibus puerulus imbuebar? Ne nunc quidem mihi satis exploratum est. Adamaveram enim latinas, non quas primi magistri sed quas docent qui grammatici vocantur. Nam illas primas, ubi legere et scribere et numerare discitur, non minus onerosas poenalesque habebam quam omnes graecas. Unde tamen et hoc nisi de peccato et uanitate vitae, qua caro eram et spiritus ambulans et non reuertens? Nam utique meliores, quia certiores, erant primae illae litterae quibus fiebat in me et factum est et habeo illud ut et legam, si quid scriptum invenio, et scribam ipse, si quid volo, quam illae quibus tenere cogebar Aeneae nescio cuius errores, oblitus errorum meorum, et plorare Didonem mortuam, quia se occidit ab amore, cum interea me ipsum in his a te morientem, Deus, vita mea, siccis oculis ferrem miserrimus. 20. But what was the cause of my dislike of Greek literature, which I studied from my boyhood, I cannot even now understand. For the Latin I loved exceedingly— not what our first masters, but what the grammarians teach; for those primary lessons of reading, writing, and ciphering, I considered no less of a burden and a punishment than Greek. Yet whence was this unless from the sin and vanity of this life? For I was but flesh, a wind that passes away and comes not again. For those primary lessons were better, assuredly, because more certain; seeing that by their agency I acquired, and still retain, the power of reading what I find written, and writing myself what I will; while in the others I was compelled to learn about the wanderings of a certain Æneas, oblivious of my own, and to weep for Biab dead, because she slew herself for love; while at the same time I brooked with dry eyes my wretched self dying far from You, in the midst of those things, O God, my life.
1.13.21 Quid enim miserius misero non miserante se ipsum et flente Didonis mortem, quae fiebat amando Aenean, non flente autem mortem suam, quae fiebat non amando te, Deus, lumen cordis mei et panis oris intus animae meae et virtus maritans mentem meam et sinum cogitationis meae? Non te amabam, et fornicabar abs te, et fornicanti sonabat undique, 'Euge! Euge!' amicitia enim mundi huius fornicatio est abs te et 'Euge! Euge!' dicitur ut pudeat, si non ita homo sit. Et haec non flebam, et flebam Didonem extinctam ferroque extrema secutam, sequens ipse extrema condita tua relicto te et terra iens in terram. Et si prohiberer ea legere, dolerem, quia non legerem quod dolerem. Tali dementi a honestiores et uberiores linerae putantur quam illae quibus legere et scribere didici. 21. For what can be more wretched than the wretch who pities not himself shedding tears over the death of Dido for love of Æneas, but shedding no tears over his own death in not loving You, O God, light of my heart, and bread of the inner mouth of my soul, and the power that weddest my mind with my innermost thoughts? I did not love You, and committed fornication against You; and those around me thus sinning cried, Well done! Well done! For the friendship of this world is fornication against You; James 4:4 and Well done! Well done! is cried until one feels ashamed not to be such a man. And for this I shed no tears, though I wept for Dido, who sought death at the sword's point, myself the while seeking the lowest of Your creatures— having forsaken You— earth tending to the earth; and if forbidden to read these things, how grieved would I feel that I was not permitted to read what grieved me. This sort of madness is considered a more honourable and more fruitful learning than that by which I learned to read and write.
1.13.22 Sed nunc in anima mea clamet Deus meus, et veritas tua dicat mihi, 'non est ita, non est ita.' Melior est prorsus doctrina illa prior. Nam ecce paratior sum oblivisci errores Aeneae atque omnia eius modi quam scribere et legere. At enim vela pendent liminibus grammaticarum scholarum, sed non illa magis honorem secreti quam tegimentum erroris significant. Non clament adversus me quos iam non timeo, dum confiteor tibi quae uult anima mea, Deus meus, et adquiesco in reprehensione malarum viarum mearum, ut diligam bonas vias tuas, non clament adversus me venditores grammaticae vel emptores, quia, si proponam eis interrogans, utrum verum sit quod Aenean aliquando Carthaginem venisse poeta dicit, indoctiores nescire se respondebunt, doctiores autem etiam negabunt verum esse. At si quaeram quibus lineris scribatur Aeneae nomen, omnes mihi qui haec didicerunt verum respondent secundum id pactum et placitum quo inter se homines ista signa firmarunt. Item si quaeram quid horum maiore vitae huius incommodo quisque obliviscatur, legere et scribere an poetica illa figmenta, quis non videat quid responsurus sit, qui non est penitus oblitus sui? Peccabam ergo puer cum illa inania istis utilioribus amore praeponebam, vel potius ista oderam, illa amabam. Iam vero unum et unum duo, duo et duo quattuor, odiosa cantio mihi erat, et dulcissimum spectaculum uanitatis, equus ligneus plenus armatis et Troiae incendium atque ipsius umbra Creusae. 22. But now, O my God, cry unto my soul; and let Your Truth say unto me, It is not so; it is not so; better much was that first teaching. For behold, I would rather forget the wanderings of Æneas, and all such things, than how to write and read. But it is true that over the entrance of the grammar school there hangs a veil; but this is not so much a sign of the majesty of the mystery, as of a covering for error. Let not them exclaim against me of whom I am no longer in fear, while I confess to You, my God, that which my soul desires, and acquiesce in reprehending my evil ways, that I may love Your good ways. Neither let those cry out against me who buy or sell grammar-learning. For if I ask them whether it be true, as the poet says, that Æneas once came to Carthage, the unlearned will reply that they do not know, the learned will deny it to be true. But if I ask with what letters the name Æneas is written, all who have learned this will answer truly, in accordance with the conventional understanding men have arrived at as to these signs. Again, if I should ask which, if forgotten, would cause the greatest inconvenience in our life, reading and writing, or these poetical fictions, who does not see what every one would answer who had not entirely forgotten himself? I erred, then, when as a boy I preferred those vain studies to those more profitable ones, or rather loved the one and hated the other. One and one are two, two and two are four, this was then in truth a hateful song to me; while the wooden horse full of armed men, and the burning of Troy, and the spectral image of Creusa were a most pleasant spectacle of vanity.
1.14.23 Cur ergo graecam etiam grammaticam oderam tali ac antantem? Nam et Homerus peritus texere tales fabellas et dulcissime uanus est, mihi tamen amarus erat puero. Credo etiam graecis pueris Vergilius ita sit, cum eum sic discere coguntur ut ego illum. Videlicet difficultas, difficultas omnino ediscendae linguae peregrinae, quasi felle aspergebat omnes suavitates graecas fabulosarum narrationum. Nulla enim verba illa noveram, et saevis terroribus ac poenis ut nossem instabatur mihi uehementer. Nam et latina aliquando infans utique nulla noveram, et tamen advertendo didici sine ullo metu atque cruciatu, inter etiam blandimenta nutricum et ioca adridentium et laetitias adludentium. Didici vero illa sine poenali onere urgentium, cum me urgeret cor meum ad parienda concepta sua, tet quat non esset, nisi aliqua verba didicissem non ad ocentibus sed a loquentibus, in quorum et ego auribus parturiebam quidquid sentiebam. Hinc satis elucet maiorem habere vim addiscenda ista liberam curiositatem quam meticulosam necessitatem. Sed illius fluxum haec restringit legibus tuis, Deus, legibus tuis a magistrorum ferulis usque ad temptationes martyrum, valentibus legibus tuis miscere salubres amaritudines reuocantes nos ad te a iucunditate pestifera qua recessimus a te. 23. But why, then, did I dislike Greek learning which was full of like tales? For Homer also was skilled in inventing similar stories, and is most sweetly vain, yet was he disagreeable to me as a boy. I believe Virgil, indeed, would be the same to Grecian children, if compelled to learn him, as I was Homer. The difficulty, in truth, the difficulty of learning a foreign language mingled as it were with gall all the sweetness of those fabulous Grecian stories. For not a single word of it did I understand, and to make me do so, they vehemently urged me with cruel threatenings and punishments. There was a time also when (as an infant) I knew no Latin; but this I acquired without any fear or tormenting, by merely taking notice, amid the blandishments of my nurses, the jests of those who smiled on me, and the sportiveness of those who toyed with me. I learned all this, indeed, without being urged by any pressure of punishment, for my own heart urged me to bring forth its own conceptions, which I could not do unless by learning words, not of those who taught me, but of those who talked to me; into whose ears, also, I brought forth whatever I discerned. From this it is sufficiently clear that a free curiosity has more influence in our learning these things than a necessity full of fear. But this last restrains the overflowings of that freedom, through Your laws, O God—Your laws, from the ferule of the schoolmaster to the trials of the martyr, being effective to mingle for us a salutary bitter, calling us back to Yourself from the pernicious delights which allure us from You.
1.15.24 Exaudi, Domine, deprecationem meam, ne deficiat anima mea sub disciplina tua neque deficiam in confitendo tibi miserationes tuas, quibus eruisti me ab omnibus viis meis pessimis, ut dulcescas mihi super omnes seductiones quas sequebar, et amem te validissime, et amplexer manum tuam totis praecordiis meis, et eruas me ab omni temptatione usque in finem. Ecce enim tu, Domine, rex meus et Deus meus, tibi seniat quidquid utile puer didici, tibi seniat quod loquor et scribo et lego et numero, quoniam cum uana discerem tu disciplinam dabas mihi, et in eis uanis peccata delectationum mearum dimisisti mihi. Didici enim in eis multa verba utilia, sed et in rebus non uanis disci possunt, et ea via tuta est in qua pueri ambularent. 24. Hear my prayer, O Lord; let not my soul faint under Your discipline, nor let me faint in confessing unto You Your mercies, whereby You have saved me from all my most mischievous ways, that You might become sweet to me beyond all the seductions which I used to follow; and that I may love You entirely, and grasp Your hand with my whole heart, and that You may deliver me from every temptation, even unto the end. For lo, O Lord, my King and my God, for Your service be whatever useful thing I learned as a boy— for Your service what I speak, and write, and count. For when I learned vain things, You granted me Your discipline; and my sin in taking delight in those vanities, You have forgiven me. I learned, indeed, in them many useful words; but these may be learned in things not vain, and that is the safe way for youths to walk in.
1.16.25 Sed uae tibi, flumen moris humani! Quis resistet tibi? Quamdiu non siccaberis? Quousque volues Euae filios in mare magnum et formidulosum, quod vix transeunt qui lignum conscenderint? Nonne ego in te legi et tonantem Iovem et adulterantem? Et utique non posset haec duo, sed actum est ut haberet auctoritatem ad imitandum verum adulterium lenocinante falso tonitru. Quis autem paenulatorum magistrorum audit aure sobria ex eodem puluere hominem clamantem et dicentem: 'fingebat haec Homerus et humana ad deos transferebat: divina mallem ad nos'? Sed verius dicitur quod fingebat haec quidem ille, sed hominibus flagitiosis divina tribuendo, ne flagitia flagitia putarentur et ut, quisquis ea fecisset, non homines perditos sed caelestes deos videretur imitatus. 25. But woe unto you, you stream of human custom! Who shall stay your course? How long shall it be before you are dried up? How long will you carry down the sons of Eve into that huge and formidable ocean, which even they who are embarked on the cross (lignum) can scarce pass over? Do I not read in you of Jove the thunderer and adulterer? And the two verily he could not be; but it was that, while the fictitious thunder served as a cloak, he might have warrant to imitate real adultery. Yet which of our gowned masters can lend a temperate ear to a man of his school who cries out and says: These were Homer's fictions; he transfers things human to the gods. I could have wished him to transfer divine things to us. But it would have been more true had he said: These are, indeed, his fictions, but he attributed divine attributes to sinful men, that crimes might not be accounted crimes, and that whosoever committed any might appear to imitate the celestial gods and not abandoned men.
1.16.26 Et tamen, o flumen tartareum, iactantur in te filii hominum cum mercedibus, ut haec discant, et magna res agitur cum hoc agitur publice in foro, in conspectu legum supra mercedem salaria decernentium, et saxa tua percutis et sonas dicens: 'hinc verba discuntur, hinc adquiritur eloquentia, rebus persuadendis sententiisque explicandis maxime necessaria.' Ita vero non cognosceremus verba haec, 'imbrem aureum' et 'gremium' et 'fucum' et 'templa caeli' et alia verba quae in eo loco scripta sunt, nisi Terentius induceret nequam adulescentem proponentem sibi Iovem ad exemplum stupri, dum spectat tabulam quandam pictam in pariete ubi inerat pictura haec, Iovem quo pacto Danae misisse aiunt in gremium quondam imbrem aureum, fucum factum mulieri? Et vide quemadmodum se concitat ad libidinem quasi caelesti magisterio:At quem Deum! Inquit qui templa caeli summo sonitu concutit. Ego homuncio id non facerem? Ego vero illud feci ac libens.non omnino per hanc turpitudinem verba ista commodius discuntur, sed per haec verba turpitudo ista confidentius perpetratur. Non accuso verba quasi uasa electa atque pretiosa, sed vinum erroris quod in eis nobis propinabatur ab ebriis doctoribus, et nisi biberemus caedebamur, nec appellare ad aliquem iudicem sobrium licebat. Et tamen ego, Deus meus, in cuius conspectu iam secura est recordatio mea, libenter haec didici, et eis delectabar miser, et ob hoc bonae spei puer appellabar. 26. And yet, you stream of hell, into you are cast the sons of men, with rewards for learning these things; and much is made of it when this is going on in the forum in the sight of laws which grant a salary over and above the rewards. And you beat against your rocks and roarest, saying, Hence words are learned; hence eloquence is to be attained, most necessary to persuade people to your way of thinking, and to unfold your opinions. So, in truth, we should never have understood these words, golden shower, bosom, intrigue, highest heavens, and other words written in the same place, unless Terence had introduced a good-for-nothing youth upon the stage, setting up Jove as his example of lewdness:— Viewing a picture, where the tale was drawn, Of Jove's descending in a golden shower To Danaë's bosom . . . with a woman to intrigue. And see how he excites himself to lust, as if by celestial authority, when he says:— Great Jove, Who shakes the highest heavens with his thunder, And I, poor mortal man, not do the same! I did it, and with all my heart I did it. Not one whit more easily are the words learned for this vileness, but by their means is the vileness perpetrated with more confidence. I do not blame the words, they being, as it were, choice and precious vessels, but the wine of error which was drunk in them to us by inebriated teachers; and unless we drank, we were beaten, without liberty of appeal to any sober judge. And yet, O my God—in whose presence I can now with security recall this—did I, unhappy one, learn these things willingly, and with delight, and for this was I called a boy of good promise. Of Jove's descending in a golden shower To Danaë's bosom . . . with a woman to intrigue. And see how he excites himself to lust, as if by celestial authority, when he says:— Great Jove, Who shakes the highest heavens with his thunder, And I, poor mortal man, not do the same! I did it, and with all my heart I did it. Not one whit more easily are the words learned for this vileness, but by their means is the vileness perpetrated with more confidence. I do not blame the words, they being, as it were, choice and precious vessels, but the wine of error which was drunk in them to us by inebriated teachers; and unless we drank, we were beaten, without liberty of appeal to any sober judge. And yet, O my God—in whose presence I can now with security recall this—did I, unhappy one, learn these things willingly, and with delight, and for this was I called a boy of good promise.
1.17.27 Sine me, Deus meus, dicere aliquid et de ingenio meo, munere tuo, in quibus a me deliramentis atterebatur. Proponebatur enim mihi negotium, animae meae satis inquietum praemio laudis et dedecoris vel plagarum metu, ut dicerem verba Iunonis irascentis et dolentis quod non posset Italia Teucrorum avertere regem, quae numquam Iunonem dixisse audieram. Sed figmentorum poeticorum uestigia errantes sequi cogebamur, et tale aliquid dicere solutis verbis quale poeta dixisset versibus. Et ille dicebat laudabilius in quo pro dignitate adumbratae personae irae ac doloris similior affectus eminebat, verbis sententias congruenter uestientibus. Ut quid mihi illud, o vera vita, Deus meus, quod mihi recitanti adclamabatur prae multis coaetaneis et collectoribus meis? Nonne ecce illa omnia fumus et ventus? Itane aliud non erat ubi exerceretur ingenium et lingua mea? Laudes tuae, Domine, laudes tuae per scripturas tuas suspenderent palmitem cordis mei, et non raperetur per inania nugarum turpis praeda volatilibus. Non enim uno modo sacrificatur transgressoribus angelis. 27. Bear with me, my God, while I speak a little of those talents You have bestowed upon me, and on what follies I wasted them. For a lesson sufficiently disquieting to my soul was given me, in hope of praise, and fear of shame or stripes, to speak the words of Juno, as she raged and sorrowed that she could notLatium barFrom all approaches of the Dardan king, which I had heard Juno never uttered. Yet were we compelled to stray in the footsteps of these poetic fictions, and to turn that into prose which the poet had said in verse. And his speaking was most applauded in whom, according to the reputation of the persons delineated, the passions of anger and sorrow were most strikingly reproduced, and clothed in the most suitable language. But what is it to me, O my true Life, my God, that my declaiming was applauded above that of many who were my contemporaries and fellow-students? Behold, is not all this smoke and wind? Was there nothing else, too, on which I could exercise my wit and tongue? Your praise, Lord, Your praises might have supported the tendrils of my heart by Your Scriptures; so had it not been dragged away by these empty trifles, a shameful prey of the fowls of the air. For there is more than one way in which men sacrifice to the fallen angels.
1.18.28 Quid autem mirum, quod in uanitates ita ferebar et a te, Deus meus, ibam foras, quando mihi imitandi proponebantur homines qui aliqua facta sua non mala, si cum barbarismo aut soloecismo enuntiarent, reprehensi confundebantur, si autem libidines suas integris et rite consequentibus verbis copiose ornateque narrarent, laudati gloriabantur? Vides haec, Domine, et taces, longanimis et multum misericors et verax. Numquid semper tacebis? Et nunc eruis de hoc immanissimo profundo quarerentem te animam et sitientem delectationes tuas, et cuius cor dicit tibi, 'quaesivi uultum tuum.' Vultum tuum, Domine, requiram: nam longe a uultu tuo in affectu tenebroso. Non enim pedibus aut a spatiis locorum itur abs te aut reditur ad te, aut vero filius ille tuus minor equos vel currus vel naves quaesivit, aut auolavit pinna visibili, aut moto poplite iter egit, ut in longinqua regione vivens prodige dissiparet quod dederas proficiscenti, dulcis pater quia dederas, et egeno redeunti dulcior: in affectu ergo libidinoso, id enim est tenebroso, atque id est longe a uultu tuo. 28. But what matter of surprise is it that I was thus carried towards vanity, and went forth from You, O my God, when men were proposed to me to imitate, who, should they in relating any acts of theirs— not in themselves evil— be guilty of a barbarism or solecism, when censured for it became confounded; but when they made a full and ornate oration, in well-chosen words, concerning their own licentiousness, and were applauded for it, they boasted? You see this, O Lord, and keepest silence, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth, as You are. Will You keep silence for ever? And even now You draw out of this vast deep the soul that seeks You and thirsts after Your delights, whose heart said unto You, I have sought Your face, Your face, Lord, will I seek. For I was far from Your face, through my darkened Romans 1:21 affections. For it is not by our feet, nor by change of place, that we either turn from You or return to You. Or, indeed, did that younger son look out for horses, or chariots, or ships, or fly away with visible wings, or journey by the motion of his limbs, that he might, in a far country, prodigally waste all that You gave him when he set out? A kind Father when You gave, and kinder still when he returned destitute! Luke 15:11-32 So, then, in wanton, that is to say, in darkened affections, lies distance from Your face.
1.18.29 Vide, Domine Deus, et patienter, ut vides, vide quomodo diligenter obseruent filii hominum pacta litterarum et syllabarum accepta a prioribus locutoribus, et a te accepta aeterna pacta perpetuae salutis neglegant, ut qui illa sonorum uetera placita teneat aut doceat, si contra disciplinam grammaticam sine adspiratione primae syllabae hominem dixerit, magis displiceat hominibus quam si contra tua praecepta hominem oderit, cum sit homo. Quasi vero quemlibet inimicum hominem perniciosius sentiat quam ipsum odium quo in eum inritatur, aut uastet quisquam persequendo alium gravius quam cor suum uastat inimicando. Et certe non est interior litterarum scientia quam scripta conscientia, id se alteri facere quod nolit pati. Quam tu secretus es, habitans in excelsis in silentio, Deus solus magnus, lege infatigabili spargens poenales caecitates supra illicitas cupiditates, cum homo eloquentiae famam quaeritans ante hominem iudicem circumstante hominum multitudine inimicum suum odio immanissimo insectans vigilantissime cavet, ne per linguae errorem dicat, 'inter hominibus', et ne per mentis furorem hominem auferat ex hominibus, non cavet. 29. Behold, O Lord God, and behold patiently, as You are wont to do, how diligently the sons of men observe the conventional rules of letters and syllables, received from those who spoke prior to them, and yet neglect the eternal rules of everlasting salvation received from You, insomuch that he who practises or teaches the hereditary rules of pronunciation, if, contrary to grammatical usage, he should say, without aspirating the first letter, a uman being, will offend men more than if, in opposition to Your commandments, he, a human being, were to hate a human being. As if, indeed, any man should feel that an enemy could be more destructive to him than that hatred with which he is excited against him, or that he could destroy more utterly him whom he persecutes than he destroys his own soul by his enmity. And of a truth, there is no science of letters more innate than the writing of conscience— that he is doing unto another what he himself would not suffer. How mysterious are You, who in silence dwellest on high, Isaiah 33:5 Thou God, the only great, who by an unwearied law dealest out the punishment of blindness to illicit desires! When a man seeking for the reputation of eloquence stands before a human judge while a thronging multitude surrounds him, inveighs against his enemy with the most fierce hatred, he takes most vigilant heed that his tongue slips not into grammatical error, but takes no heed lest through the fury of his spirit he cut off a man from his fellow-men.
1.19.30 Horum ego puer morum in limine iacebam miser, et huius harenae palaestra erat illa, ubi magis timebam barbarismum facere quam cavebam, si facerem, non facientibus inuidere. Dico haec et confiteor tibi, Deus meus, in quibus laudabar ab eis quibus placere tunc mihi erat honeste vivere. Non enim videbam voraginem turpitudinis in quam proiectus eram ab oculis tuis. Nam in illis iam quid me foedius fuit, ubi etiam talibus displicebam fallendo innumerabilibus mendaciis et paedagogum et magistros et parentes amore ludendi, studio spectandi nugatoria et imitandi ludicra inquietudine? Furta etiam faciebam de cellario parentum et de mensa, vel gula imperitante vel ut haberem quod darem pueris ludum suum mihi quo pariter utique delectabantur tamen vendentibus. In quo etiam ludo fraudulentas victorias ipse uana excellentiae cupiditate victus saepe aucupabar. Quid autem tam nolebam pati atque atrociter, si deprehenderem, arguebam, quam id quod aliis faciebam? Et, si deprehensus arguerer, saevire magis quam cedere libebat. Istane est innocentia puerilis? Non est, Domine, non est. Oro te, Deus meus: nam haec ipsa sunt quae a paedagogis et magistris, a nucibus et pilulis et passeribus, ad praefectos et reges, aurum, praedia, mancipia, haec ipsa omnino succedentibus maioribus aetatibus transeunt, sicuti ferulis maiora supplicia succedunt. Humilitatis ergo signum in statura pueritiae, rex noster, probasti, cum aisti, 'talium est regnum caelorum.' 30. These were the customs in the midst of which I, unhappy boy, was cast, and on that arena it was that I was more fearful of perpetrating a barbarism than, having done so, of envying those who had not. These things I declare and confess unto You, my God, for which I was applauded by them whom I then thought it my whole duty to please, for I did not perceive the gulf of infamy wherein I was cast away from Your eyes. For in Your eyes what was more infamous than I was already, displeasing even those like myself, deceiving with innumerable lies both tutor, and masters, and parents, from love of play, a desire to see frivolous spectacles, and a stage-stuck restlessness, to imitate them? Pilferings I committed from my parents' cellar and table, either enslaved by gluttony, or that I might have something to give to boys who sold me their play, who, though they sold it, liked it as well as I In this play, likewise, I often sought dishonest victories, I myself being conquered by the vain desire of pre-eminence. And what could I so little endure, or, if I detected it, censured I so violently, as the very things I did to others, and, when myself detected I was censured, preferred rather to quarrel than to yield? Is this the innocence of childhood? Nay, Lord, nay, Lord; I entreat Your mercy, O my God. For these same sins, as we grow older, are transferred from governors and masters, from nuts, and balls, and sparrows, to magistrates and kings, to gold, and lands, and slaves, just as the rod is succeeded by more severe chastisements. It was, then, the stature of childhood that You, O our King, approved of as an emblem of humility when You said: Of such is the kingdom of heaven.
1.20.31 Sed tamen, Domine, tibi excellentissimo atque optimo conditori et rectori universitatis, Deo nostro gratias, etiamsi me puerum tantum esse voluisses. Eram enim etiam tunc, vivebam atque sentiebam meamque incolumitatem, uestigium secretissimae unitatis ex qua eram, curae habebam, custodiebam interiore sensu integritatem sensuum meorum inque ipsis paruis paruarumque rerum cogitationibus veritate delectabar. Falli nolebam, memoria vigebam, locutione instruebar, amicitia mulcebar, fugiebam dolorem, abiectionem, ignorantiam. Quid in tali animante non mirabile atque laudabile? At ista omnia Dei mei dona sunt. Non mihi ego dedi haec, et bona sunt, et haec omnia ego. Bonus ergo est qui fecit me, et ipse est bonum meum, et illi exulto bonis omnibus quibus etiam puer eram. Hoc enim peccabam, quod non in ipso sed in creaturis eius me atque caeteris voluptates, sublimitates, veritates quaerebam, atque ita inruebam in dolores, confusiones, errores. Gratias tibi, dulcedo mea et honor meus et fiducia mea, Deus meus, gratias tibi de donis tuis: sed tu mihi ea serva. Ita enim servabis me, et augebuntur et perficientur quae dedisti mihi, et ero ipse tecum, quia et ut sim tu dedisti mihi. 31. But yet, O Lord, to You, most excellent and most good, Thou Architect and Governor of the universe, thanks had been due unto You, our God, even had You willed that I should not survive my boyhood. For I existed even then; I lived, and felt, and was solicitous about my own well-being—a trace of that most mysterious unity from whence I had my being; I kept watch by my inner sense over the wholeness of my senses, and in these insignificant pursuits, and also in my thoughts on things insignificant, I learned to take pleasure in truth. I was averse to being deceived, I had a vigorous memory, was provided with the power of speech, was softened by friendship, shunned sorrow, meanness, ignorance. In such a being what was not wonderful and praiseworthy? But all these are gifts of my God; I did not give them to myself; and they are good, and all these constitute myself. Good, then, is He that made me, and He is my God; and before Him will I rejoice exceedingly for every good gift which, as a boy, I had. For in this lay my sin, that not in Him, but in His creatures— myself and the rest— I sought for pleasures, honours, and truths, falling thereby into sorrows, troubles, and errors. Thanks be to You, my joy, my pride, my confidence, my God— thanks be to You for Your gifts; but preserve them to me. For thus will You preserve me; and those things which You have given me shall be developed and perfected, and I myself shall be with You, for from You is my being.


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