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 are dialogues that 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 second, brief dialogue, Augustine and his mother, brother, son, and friends celebrate his thirty-second birthday by having a “feast of words” on the nature of happiness that includes a bittersweet metaphorical birthday cake. Using a process of reasoning that is philosophical as well as theological, Augustine and the group conclude that the truly happy life consists of “having God” through faith, hope, and charity. Michael Foley’s clear, precise and playful translations are accompanied by his brief, illuminating commentaries.