Augustine and his friends are wrong doing, running through fields, and taking people’s fruit. Him and his best friend Alypius get caught behind and have to hide out. Then, they meet up with the others at the center of town they called the Hollow. Here, Augustine told his story he had with a lady, who had a husband. Then an argument occurred.
Augustine’s parents, Monica and Patricius, talk about sending their son away. While talking, they realize that Augustine has become a man. Monica then asks for Patricius to be baptized, and convert to Christianity. He says he can not because he would make a poor follower of Christ, and does not want to upset his local gentry. At the end of this chapter, the conversation ends when Monica goes to pray, and Augustine comes home only to have a word with his father.
Augustine’s talk with his father is not bad. He finds out that he might be going to the university in Carthage. This made Augustine happy, but not Monica. Monica and Augustine talk about the choice she made to not have him baptized, and about his future and how important his education is. Monica ends the night by giving advice to Augustine on women.
A banquet was held for Augustine celebrating the event and the donning of the toga viriles. The family and their guests have a few discussions including one about the emperor, Valentinian. Finally, Augustine made his “debut” and walked in his toga, and read out loud to everyone. The people were amazed by his readings, but not by his own poems.
Augustine talks to his best friends before he leaves. They dispute over the fact that Augustine hates the Greeks. Then, Augustine tells his friends to come to Carthage with him. Alypius agreed to ask his father if he could go. Suddenly, Augustine came filled with anger when he heard women talking about his mother, and the men she encountered. Then, Augustine ran away to where he sees his father, mother, and grandmother. His mother knows of the rumor about her, but tells Augustine not to worry.
Augustine arrives in Carthage a month early, to get some culture out of it. He looks around and acknowledges its beauty after it as rebuilt. In Carthage, he meets Romanianus’ slave, Marcus, who takes him out to see the town. Marcus took him to eat, to the parade, and lastly to a strip club.
Alypius joined Augustine in Carthage in October. As roommates, with Nebridius, the boys invited a lot of people to their dorm. An upperclassman, Octatus, barged in and asked the men if they wanted to come with him. Octatus took them to a professor’s house, in which they wrecked. Augustine and his new friend Honoratus did not like this, so they left and went for a walk.
Augustine wrote a loving letter home to his mother telling her how much he loved Carthage but missed his old self. Augustine and his three roommates go to see a play called The Brothers. After watching the play, they relate themselves and their fathers to the characters involved. They also discuss other issues in the play.
For the first time since he has been to Carthage, Augustine went to the basilica. He first had trouble going into it, and more trouble sitting there and listening. Then, he came to believe that there really was a God. This chapter ends with Augustine seeing this beautiful girl, dressed in purple with a white flower, that he says he must have. She disappears before the mass is over, and Augustine tries to look for her.
In response to his letter, Augustine gets back a couple of letters from his mother back at home. In these letters, Augustine receives back news that his father has passed away. Augustine is upset, but not as upset as he would be if his mother passed away. He tells his mother about the girl he has been looking for, for months, and she suggests he keep his head in his studies. Augustine does not listen and eventually finds the girl. In finding her, he encounters her father, who lets him meet her because he tells him he is a student at the university.
Augustine is led by Leporius, Melanie’s father into their home. They are obviously poor. Augustine expresses his uncertainty about getting married while in school, and gets a chance to talk to Melanie privately. He expresses his obsessive love for her, but she declines his advances and asks him to leave. He does so, with a broken heart.
Augustine, distraught but resolute, decides to win the heart of Melanie. He gets a haircut and brings her a canary. The two get to talking, and despite herself, finds herself attracted to Augustine.
Augustine, with his head still spinning with love, talks to Alypius about love and the possibility of moving out of the apartment and getting his own apartment to live with Melanie in. Augustine goes to see Melanie and finds her in the company of a roman soldier. Augustine promptly hits the soldier, then gets knocked out and awakens to the sight of Melanie kneeling over him. They speak more of love and moving in together.
Augustine later gets a note from Melanie telling him that her father is gone for Syracuse, and he goes to her and she, for the first time professes her love for him.
Now, after some time of living together, tensions are building in the apartment. Augustine first accuses Melanie of being wasteful, then unfaithful. Augustine recalls their two years together as being six months of passion followed by a year and a half of bickering and fighting. Melanie later comes home and explains that the men that she was seen with were merely being polite and chivalrous, and that she has had no relations with any of them. Then Melanie tells Augustine that she is pregnant.
Augustine does not like the idea of having a child, not because of his relationship with Melanie, which would probably strengthen, but because of his mother, who, with her Christian background, would not approve. After reading some passages from
classical writers, he concludes that the missing piece in all of them is Jesus Christ. He promptly starts reading the New Testament, but finds it a bore meant for common people. He overhears a religious debate in which he hears about Manichaeism, a heretical religion which Augustine finds appealing for its straightforward answers to every question posed.
Augustine is discussing Manichaeism in depth with one of its followers, especially about the origin of evil, which Marius believes to lie in the body, not the soul. He refers to Jesus as a sun spirit. He converts Alypius to this religion and sets off to Thagaste to visit Monica, and possibly convert her.
Now, Augustine argues with a much-distressed Monica on the merit of Manichaeism, which she calls a “damnable heresy.” They argue to the point of bringing Monica to tears, at which point Augustine merely decides to be less forceful, instead of letting her practice her Christianity. It comes out that the belief of Manicheans is that since sin is inherent in everyone, sin is not people’s fault and therefore there is no punishment. Monica prays for him and talks to a bishop, who advises her to wait for him to lead himself out of his heresy.
Augustine gets a job at the summer villa of Romanianus teaching rhetoric to the children and evangelizing Manichaeism on the side. Augustine spends many hours with his friend Spendius, who slowly turns to Manichaeism. But, when Spendius falls ill, he is baptized by the local catholic bishop and embraces the Church. This breaks Augustine’s
heart. The grief of which is later overshadowed by the sudden death of Spendius in a relapse of his previous ailment.
Augustine, crushed by the death of his friend, weeps every night, which is noticed by Romanianus. Romanianus considers all of Augustine’s debt repaid, and sends him to Carthage to his lover. Soon after arriving home, Melanie gives birth to a boy, and nearly dies in the process. Before going into labor, however Melanie expresses her disbelief of Manichean doctrines and encourages Augustine to come back to the true Church.
Augustine’s School of Rhetoric has just opened and Augustine is enjoying modest prosperity with his lover and his son, Adeodatus. Melanie expresses her regret for having a child out of wedlock, but Augustine pushes aside her Christian beliefs, reinforcing those of Manichaeism. Augustine enters a poetry contest, which he wins. The Proconsul
is interested in why Augustine has started to study liberal arts, or the glorified soothsaying of the time. He tells Augustine that he is searching for something and has not found it yet, and that he will not find it divining the stars.
At this point, nine years have passed. Augustine’s household is peaceful, and he and his friends are all prosperous, but all questioning Manichaeism. They speak at length in the baths and then pepper the leaders of their group with questions which they could not answer. Even a renowned scholar of Mani at the time could not answer their questions. They are all thinking of leaving that sect.
Augustine, hearing Faustus, the scholar of Mani to be a quack, tried with his friends several times to get an interview with him. They eventually do and take him back to the roots of things where Manichaeism promises answers for all things, but Faustus had no such answers. When Augustine returns home, Melanie brings the news to Augustine that his mother is in Carthage.
Monica now comes to the house of Augustine. He is not there, only Melanie and Adeodatus. Melanie is taken aback with how strong Monica is, but still realizes that she is a very kind and friendly woman. When Monica talks to Melanie of leaving Augustine, the truth of her words resound and make a huge impact on the heart of Melanie. She runs
into the room of the sleeping Adeodatus and weeps with him with a sorrow which has had no outlet for the last nine years.
While standing on the dock waiting for a boat to Rome to start a new life, Augustine recalls a heated conversation between himself and Monica. She urges him to sever his ties with Melanie. He had then told Melanie of his plans, kissed her goodbye and left. While standing on the dock, Monica comes to him and asks him if he intends to go to Rome. He lies and cheats his way onto the boat without Monica’s knowledge. He had left her in a garden and kissed her. As the boat pulled away, he was horrified to be able to draw a comparison between himself and Judas Iscariot.
Augustine arrives in Rome and with excitement and curiosity, begins to explore his new home. Shortly afterwards, he finds Rome to be a political madhouse with more plots and schemes going on than he had ever heard of. He falls ill and recovers after a week. He starts a school of rhetoric with students referred from a friend. He talks with Alypius about old times and old friends, and about religion, and leaving Manichaeism.
Now, Alypius meets Augustine at a bathhouse to talk of important matters, and a job opportunity. It involves winning an oratorical contest to earn the right to become a master of rhetoric in Milan. After some deliberation, Augustine agrees to let Alypius bribe the judge on his behalf, assuring the win.
After winning the contest and settling into his home in Milan, Augustine decides to go and speak with Bishop Ambrose. After getting a less than gracious dismissal from Ambrose’s office, Augustine vows never to hear him preach, but goes anyway. He finds Ambrose to be a brilliant orator, but ignores the message completely. When he gets home, Augustine finds Alypius has left Rome and has come to Milan to take up law. Later, Augustine is required to deliver a speech of praise to the emperor, but Augustine is disappointed with the work in progress. He admits to having a conscience, a concept condemned by several of the people Augustine follows. Both he and Alypius seem to be looking for something more in a spiritual way.
Four weeks after Augustine’s oratory, Melanie arrives. The house quickly becomes crowded with family and friends that have come to stay. Melanie feels outward
civility toward her relationship with Augustine, but she also feels friction, which is
magnified when Monica comes to stay with Augustine. Melanie feels that she must do something drastic to end this in some way.
While the men of the house contemplate moving to the country, their wives wholeheartedly forbid it, and so the idea dies on the spot. Adeodatus, now an adolescent, expresses his worry to Melanie that he will not live to become a man. As she leaves the room, Melanie overhears a conversation between Monica and Augustine. Monica has already arranged for him to be married against his will and be forced to leave Melanie. Later, Melanie disappears leaving a note saying that she is to join a convent and never see him again.
At this point, it is believed that, in his despondency after Melanie’s disappearance, Augustine has taken a second mistress. This worries Monica, especially since the arranged marriage of Augustine fell through. Alypius consoles her, using his logic to conclude that he is close to the Kingdom of God. Later, when Augustine is in a
garden with Alypius, he gets a copy of the New Testament and begins to read. Later, he emotionally breaks down and cries. After losing the strength to weep, he hears the
words, “Take, read,” which he interprets to be a voice of an angel commanding him. He goes to Alypius, who has the New Testament, and randomly selects a verse which rings
true in his heart, and he rejoices that he has found what he has been looking for all these years.
Due in part to his health troubles, Augustine, freshly converted, moved to the summer home of a friend in Cassiciacum. He keeps his workload light, but still works on the conversion to Catholicism of Adeodatus and Licentius. Adeodatus is easy to win over, but Licentius proves a harder subject. Augustine, partly because of insomnia, partly because of longing, stays up late at night praying and thinking of Melanie. He also thinks to himself that his life is solely for the purpose of obtaining wisdom, and if that wisdom is separated from him, he would have indifference toward death.
Augustine and his family are, at this point, staying at the port city of Ostia, where they are awaiting fair weather for passage to Thagaste. Augustine wants to set up a monastery there, feeling that the monastic life is his only fulfilling option. While there, Monica falls into a violent fever and feels her end coming. She does not wish Augustine
to pray for intercession on her behalf, just to be thankful for her time on earth and let God judge her. She passes quietly, holding the hand of her son.
Now Augustine has built a beautiful monastery near the gates of Thagaste. It is simple, but basks in the North African sun near a stream. So many people want to be a part of the Monastery that Augustine has to make a waiting list to organize the hopeful religious men. One of Augustine’s favorite pastimes is educating Adeodatus, but this soon ends. Adeodatus is struck by a mysterious disease and dies after more than a month of physical torture. Augustine now remembers Adeodatus’ prediction that he will not live long, and how God struck down the son of David’s sins.
Augustine has spent three years at his monastery, happy for the most part, except for the deaths of Adeodatus and his friend, Nebridius. Augustine receives a letter calling
him to Hippo to give council to a man there. He goes to Hippo, finding the state of the Church there unruly. The Bishop, Valerius, is found to be a poor orator, but his sermon gathers steam as he accuses the young men of the church of shirking their responsibilities to God. When someone notices Augustine in the audience, the entire congregation calls
out for Augustine to be made a priest. Neither Augustine nor Valerius wanted this to happen, but they are both forced into it, and Augustine is ordained.
A year after Augustine was forcibly ordained, Valerius asks him to preach in the Bishop’s stead. Augustine enjoys his new position, as does the congregation in Hippo. Alypius comes and hears Augustine preach abut the evils of Joy Day, a feast which had
deteriorated into an orgy. The congregation gets so angry; they call out in the middle of the sermon. Augustine calms them down with a joke, and explains why Joy Day must no longer be observed. After the service, Augustine and Alypius are approached by a girl who says only “eulogy,” with no explanation and runs away. Puzzled, but not very troubled, the two friends go on their way.
Augustine is 42 at this point, and Possidius is visiting him from Thagaste.
Augustine explains how God has an image for everyone, and how he preaches to the different kinds of people in his congregation. Possidius, over the course of his conversation with Augustine, begins feeling compelled to join the priesthood. It comes out that a rumor has started that Augustine tried to give a young woman love potion to seduce her. The Donatists are using this against Augustine, calling him a heretic, but
Augustine continues to ignore the false rumors. A man named Megalius is going to come to Hippo to review Augustine’s case, and Augustine sends for Alypius.
At this time, the Primate Megalius is in Hippo to consecrate a new Bishop to succeed Valerius. Because of the lies and rumors about Augustine, the Primate does not at first even consider Augustine. Valerius, having just gotten out of his sickbed, at no small risk to his health, comes into the church and proposes that Augustine be made Bishop. After Valerius collapses and is carried from the church, Augustine and his
friends defend his status. At last, the girl who started the rumor is brought to the front of the church, where she confesses to lying and says that Augustine never gave her a love potion. In a solemn and quietly joyful ceremony, Augustine is consecrated.
Augustine is now in his middle age, and in a time of gossip about his past. He writes a brutally honest autobiography which calms down the rumors, not completely stopping them. This was a time of upheaval in the world, since Rome had just been sacked by the Visigoths. Augustine helps with the effort to acclimate Catholics to a world without Rome, but the damage was done. The Donatists had been ruled a heretical movement by the council of Carthage, which made all of them furious. Augustine and Heraclius meet a Donatist on the road wishing to debate as to which Church is the true
Church. Augustine detaches himself from Heraclius and the Donatist, just before a band of Numidians comes out of the bushes in an attempt to kill Augustine. The band is enraged when they find out that Augustine is no longer there. Heraclius knocks out a Donatist after the rest leave, only after the Donatist tried to hit him. Heraclius then carries him to a doctor. Later, In Augustine’s study, Augustine tells Heraclius that the story is all over town.
It is now 413, and Augustine is in fragile health. There is another heretical movement on the rise, Pelagianism, which Augustine feels he needs to fight. Nevertheless, he succumbs to the diagnosis of his physician, and goes on vacation in a
cottage in an oasis. He talks of Rome as being a symbol of Man on earth, and regrets its downfall. He also talks of a new book in progress. As his health improves, he begins writing letters, namely to the Church in Hippo, encouraging them not to give up their charity work. He also writes to give council to a young woman who caught her husband in adultery. All this writing wears out Heraclius, who is acting as scribe to Augustine.
At this point, Manichaeism and Donatism are dead heresies, but Pelagianism is still on the rise, despite the excommunication of many of its Bishops. Augustine has a
long conversation with one of the Pelagians, an old friend by the name of Paulinus. After
an unproductive conversation, Paulinus and Augustine part ways, and Paulinus expresses his desire for the amount of faith Augustine has. Several months later, Augustine receives a notice telling him that Paulinus has renounced Pelagianism and is returning to Catholicism.
With the current threat of invasion, even the pious turns to looting, which Augustine can only slow down, not stop. Augustine is visited by a wealthy patrician family, when he discusses the evils that are happening at this time. On his way to
vespers, he is confronted by a group of men wanting Augustine to ordain Pinianus into the priesthood. Augustine says that he would never ordain a man against his will, no matter what. The next day, Melania, the wife of Pinianus, goes to Thagaste and the committee is enraged. They demand that Pinianus be excommunicated, but Augustine resists this as well.
With old age upon him, and writing still to be done, Augustine appoints Heraclius to take care of the menial tasks that he used to do himself. He is able to finish many
works, including City of God. Now, he is visited by the Nephew of Alypius, Faustus, who is about to rejoin his legion. They talk of Augustine trying to get the General Boniface to lead a more moral life, so that he could be a better example to his men. Afterwards, the local empress, Placidia, declares Boniface a traitor. The two reconcile their differences, however for the mutual interest of not dying at the hands of a horde of barbarians. Shortly thereafter, Faustus falls in battle, and Augustine does his best to comfort the pregnant, newly widowed Claudia.
At this time, General Boniface has been defeated. The Vandals are pouring across the North African countryside, threatening to take Hippo. There is a meeting between the Church leaders in Hippo to decide what to do. They contemplate fleeing to the desert, which Augustine strikes down, saying that they couldn’t possibly bring the whole congregation with them; instead, they should stay with, and if necessary, die with
their congregations. At the end of the conference, word is received that there are only three cities left standing in North Africa. These are Carthage, Cirta, and Hippo, and Boniface and the remaining beaten army are retreating to Hippo.
At this time, Hippo is a war zone. The Basilica has been converted to a hospital, and Augustine continues to preach almost ceaselessly to a city with little hope. To add to all of this, an epidemic strikes the city, afflicting many, including Augustine himself. Sensing his end coming, Augustine sets about reading penitential Psalms and preparing a general confession. After a time of farewells, Augustine laughs quietly, lays down his head, and dies.