Against the Academics: St. Augustine’s Cassiciacum Dialogues, Volume 1

Yale University Press (2019)


_A fresh, new translation of Augustine’s inaugural work as a Christian convert_ The first four works written by St. Augustine of Hippo after his conversion to Christianity have influenced prominent thinkers from Boethius to Bernard Lonergan. Usually called the Cassiciacum dialogues, these four works are a “literary triumph,” combining Ciceronian and neo-Platonic philosophy, Roman comedy and Vergilian poetry, and early Christian theology. They are also, arguably, Augustine’s most charming works, exhibiting his whimsical levity and ironic wryness. In this first dialogue, Augustine and his interlocutors have retreated to a quiet country villa north of Milan to explore the history and teachings of Academic Skepticism. Augustine is both sympathetic to and critical of the Skeptics, eventually hypothesizing that they could not possibly have believed everything they taught. The dialogue serves as a fitting launch point for a knowledge of God and the soul, the overall subject of the Cassiciacum tetralogy. Michael Foley’s clear, precise and playful translations are accompanied by his brief, illuminating commentaries.

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