On Order: St. Augustine's Cassiciacum Dialogues, Volume 3

Yale University Press (2020)

Abstract

_A fresh, new translation of Augustine’s third work as a Christian convert__ "The 'Cassiciacum dialogues'... are of a high literary and intellectual quality, 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."—_Credo__ The first four works written by St. Augustine of Hippo after his conversion to Christianity are dialogues that have influenced prominent thinkers from Boethius to Bernard Lonergan. Usually called the “Cassiciacum dialogues,” these four works are of a high literary and intellectual quality, 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. _On Order_ is the third work in this tetralogy, and it is Augustine’s only work explicitly devoted to theodicy, the reconciliation of Almighty God’s goodness with evil’s existence. In this dialogue, Augustine argues that a certain kind of self-knowledge is the key to unlocking the answers to theodicy’s vexing questions, and he devotes the latter half of the dialogue to an excursus on the liberal arts as disciplines that will help strengthen the mind to know itself and God.

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