(Augustine, Confessions. part 11)

because of the great excellence and perfection of his human
nature, due to his participation in wisdom.
     Alypius, on the other hand, supposed the Catholics to believe
that God was so clothed with flesh that besides God and the flesh
there was no soul in Christ, and he did not think that a human
mind was ascribed to him.[218]  And because he was fully persuaded
that the actions recorded of him could not have been performed
except by a living rational creature, he moved the more slowly
toward Christian faith.[219]  But when he later learned that this
was the error of the Apollinarian heretics, he rejoiced in the
Catholic faith and accepted it.  For myself, I must confess that
it was even later that I learned how in the sentence, "The Word
was made flesh," the Catholic truth can be distinguished from the
falsehood of Photinus.  For the refutation of heretics[220] makes
the tenets of thy Church and sound doctrine to stand out boldly.
"For there must also be heresies [factions] that those who are
approved may be made manifest among the weak."[221]

                          CHAPTER XX

     26.  By having thus read the books of the Platonists, and
having been taught by them to search for the incorporeal Truth, I
saw how thy invisible things are understood through the things
that are made.  And, even when I was thrown back, I still sensed
what it was that the dullness of my soul would not allow me to
contemplate.  I was assured that thou wast, and wast infinite,
though not diffused in finite space or infinity; that thou truly
art, who art ever the same, varying neither in part nor motion;
and that all things are from thee, as is proved by this sure cause
alone: that they exist.
     Of all this I was convinced, yet I was too weak to enjoy
thee.  I chattered away as if I were an expert; but if I had not
sought thy Way in Christ our Saviour, my knowledge would have
turned out to be not instruction but destruction.[222]  For now
full of what was in fact my punishment, I had begun to desire to
seem wise.  I did not mourn my ignorance, but rather was puffed up
with knowledge.  For where was that love which builds upon the
foundation of humility, which is Jesus Christ?[223]  Or, when
would these books teach me this?  I now believe that it was thy
pleasure that I should fall upon these books before I studied thy
Scriptures, that it might be impressed on my memory how I was
affected by them; and then afterward, when I was subdued by thy
Scriptures and when my wounds were touched by thy healing fingers,
I might discern and distinguish what a difference there is between
presumption and confession -- between those who saw where they
were to go even if they did not see the way, and the Way which
leads, not only to the observing, but also the inhabiting of the
blessed country.  For had I first been molded in thy Holy
Scriptures, and if thou hadst grown sweet to me through my
familiar use of them, and if then I had afterward fallen on those
volumes, they might have pushed me off the solid ground of
godliness -- or if I had stood firm in that wholesome disposition
which I had there acquired, I might have thought that wisdom could
be attained by the study of those [Platonist] books alone.

                          CHAPTER XXI

     27.  With great eagerness, then, I fastened upon the
venerable writings of thy Spirit and principally upon the apostle
Paul.  I had thought that he sometimes contradicted himself and
that the text of his teaching did not agree with the testimonies
of the Law and the Prophets; but now all these doubts vanished
away.  And I saw that those pure words had but one face, and I
learned to rejoice with trembling.  So I began, and I found that
whatever truth I had read [in the Platonists] was here combined
with the exaltation of thy grace.  Thus, he who sees must not
glory as if he had not received, not only the things that he sees,
but the very power of sight -- for what does he have that he has
not received as a gift?  By this he is not only exhorted to see,
but also to be cleansed, that he may grasp thee, who art ever the
same; and thus he who cannot see thee afar off may yet enter upon
the road that leads to reaching, seeing, and possessing thee.  For
although a man may "delight in the law of God after the inward
man," what shall he do with that other "law in his members which
wars against the law of his mind, and brings him into captivity
under the law of sin, which is in his members"?[224]  Thou art
righteous, O Lord; but we have sinned and committed iniquities,
and have done wickedly.  Thy hand has grown heavy upon us, and we
are justly delivered over to that ancient sinner, the lord of
death.  For he persuaded our wills to become like his will, by
which he remained not in thy truth.  What shall "wretched man" do?
"Who shall deliver him from the body of this death,"[225] except
thy grace through Jesus Christ our Lord; whom thou hast begotten,
coeternal with thyself, and didst create in the beginning of thy
ways[226] -- in whom the prince of this world found nothing worthy
of death, yet he killed him -- and so the handwriting which was
all against us was blotted out?
     The books of the Platonists tell nothing of this.  Their
pages do not contain the expression of this kind of godliness --
the tears of confession, thy sacrifice, a troubled spirit, a
broken and a contrite heart, the salvation of thy people, the
espoused City, the earnest of the Holy Spirit, the cup of our
redemption.  In them, no man sings: "Shall not my soul be subject
unto God, for from him comes my salvation?  He is my God and my
salvation, my defender; I shall no more be moved."[227]  In them,
no one hears him calling, "Come unto me all you who labor." They
scorn to learn of him because he is "meek and lowly of heart"; for
"thou hast hidden those things from the wise and prudent, and hast
revealed them unto babes." For it is one thing to see the land of
peace from a wooded mountaintop: and fail to find the way thither
-- to attempt impassable ways in vain, opposed and waylaid by
fugitives and deserters under their captain, the "lion" and
"dragon"[228]; but it is quite another thing to keep to the
highway that leads thither, guarded by the hosts of the heavenly
Emperor, on which there are no deserters from the heavenly army to
rob the passers-by, for they shun it as a torment.[229]  These
thoughts sank wondrously into my heart, when I read that "least of
thy apostles"[230] and when I had considered all thy works and

                         BOOK EIGHT

     Conversion to Christ.  Augustine is deeply impressed by
Simplicianus' story of the conversion to Christ of the famous
orator and philosopher, Marius Victorinus.  He is stirred to
emulate him, but finds himself still enchained by his incontinence
and preoccupation with worldly affairs.  He is then visited by a
court official, Ponticianus, who tells him and Alypius the stories
of the conversion of Anthony and also of two imperial "secret
service agents." These stories throw him into a violent turmoil,
in which his divided will struggles against himself.  He almost
succeeds in making the decision for continence, but is still held
back.  Finally, a child's song, overheard by chance, sends him to
the Bible; a text from Paul resolves the crisis; the conversion is
a fact.  Alypius also makes his decision, and the two inform the
rejoicing Monica.

                           CHAPTER I

     1.  O my God, let me remember with gratitude and confess to
thee thy mercies toward me.  Let my bones be bathed in thy love,
and let them say: "Lord, who is like unto thee?[231]  Thou hast
broken my bonds in sunder, I will offer unto thee the sacrifice of
thanksgiving."[232]  And how thou didst break them I will declare,
and all who worship thee shall say, when they hear these things:
"Blessed be the Lord in heaven and earth, great and wonderful is
his name."[233]
     Thy words had stuck fast in my breast, and I was hedged round
about by thee on every side.  Of thy eternal life I was now
certain, although I had seen it "through a glass darkly."[234]
And I had been relieved of all doubt that there is an
incorruptible substance and that it is the source of every other
substance.  Nor did I any longer crave greater certainty about
thee, but rather greater steadfastness in thee.
     But as for my temporal life, everything was uncertain, and my
heart had to be purged of the old leaven.  "The Way" -- the
Saviour himself -- pleased me well, but as yet I was reluctant to
pass through the strait gate.
     And thou didst put it into my mind, and it seemed good in my
own sight, to go to Simplicianus, who appeared to me a faithful
servant of thine, and thy grace shone forth in him.  I had also
been told that from his youth up he had lived in entire devotion
to thee.  He was already an old man, and because of his great age,
which he had passed in such a zealous discipleship in thy way, he
appeared to me likely to have gained much wisdom -- and, indeed,
he had.  From all his experience, I desired him to tell me --
setting before him all my agitations -- which would be the most
fitting way for one who felt as I did to walk in thy way.
     2.  For I saw the Church full; and one man was going this way
and another that.  Still, I could not be satisfied with the life I
was living in the world.  Now, indeed, my passions had ceased to
excite me as of old with hopes of honor and wealth, and it was a
grievous burden to go on in such servitude.  For, compared with
thy sweetness and the beauty of thy house -- which I loved --
those things delighted me no longer.  But I was still tightly
bound by the love of women; nor did the apostle forbid me to
marry, although he exhorted me to something better, wishing
earnestly that all men were as he himself was.
     But I was weak and chose the easier way, and for this single
reason my whole life was one of inner turbulence and listless
indecision, because from so many influences I was compelled --
even though unwilling -- to agree to a married life which bound me
hand and foot.  I had heard from the mouth of Truth that "there
are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of
Heaven's sake"[235] but, said he, "He that is able to receive it,
let him receive it." Of a certainty, all men are vain who do not
have the knowledge of God, or have not been able, from the good
things that are seen, to find him who is good.  But I was no
longer fettered in that vanity.  I had surmounted it, and from the
united testimony of thy whole creation had found thee, our
Creator, and thy Word -- God with thee, and together with thee and
the Holy Spirit, one God -- by whom thou hast created all things.
There is still another sort of wicked men, who "when they knew
God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful."[236]
Into this also I had fallen, but thy right hand held me up and
bore me away, and thou didst place me where I might recover.  For
thou hast said to men, "Behold the fear of the Lord, this is
wisdom,"[237] and, "Be not wise in your own eyes,"[238] because
"they that profess themselves to be wise become fools."[239]  But
I had now found the goodly pearl; and I ought to have sold all
that I had and bought it -- yet I hesitated.

                          CHAPTER II

     3.  I went, therefore, to Simplicianus, the spiritual father
of Ambrose (then a bishop), whom Ambrose truly loved as a father.
I recounted to him all the mazes of my wanderings, but when I
mentioned to him that I had read certain books of the Platonists
which Victorinus -- formerly professor of rhetoric at Rome, who
died a Christian, as I had been told -- had translated into Latin,
Simplicianus congratulated me that I had not fallen upon the
writings of other philosophers, which were full of fallacies and
deceit, "after the beggarly elements of this world,"[240] whereas
in the Platonists, at every turn, the pathway led to belief in God
and his Word.
     Then, to encourage me to copy the humility of Christ, which
is hidden from the wise and revealed to babes, he told me about
Victorinus himself, whom he had known intimately at Rome.  And I
cannot refrain from repeating what he told me about him.  For it
contains a glorious proof of thy grace, which ought to be
confessed to thee: how that old man, most learned, most skilled in
all the liberal arts; who had read, criticized, and explained so
many of the writings of the philosophers; the teacher of so many
noble senators; one who, as a mark of his distinguished service in
office had both merited and obtained a statue in the Roman Forum
-- which men of this world esteem a great honor -- this man who,
up to an advanced age, had been a worshiper of idols, a
communicant in the sacrilegious rites to which almost all the
nobility of Rome were wedded; and who had inspired the people with
the love of Osiris and
     "The dog Anubis, and a medley crew
     Of monster gods who 'gainst Neptune stand in arms
     'Gainst Venus and Minerva, steel-clad Mars,"[241]
     whom Rome once conquered, and now worshiped; all of which old
Victorinus had with thundering eloquence defended for so many
years -- despite all this, he did not blush to become a child of
thy Christ, a babe at thy font, bowing his neck to the yoke of
humility and submitting his forehead to the ignominy of the cross.
     4.  O Lord, Lord, "who didst bow the heavens and didst
descend, who didst touch the mountains and they smoked,"[242] by
what means didst thou find thy way into that breast?  He used to
read the Holy Scriptures, as Simplicianus said, and thought out
and studied all the Christian writings most studiously.  He said
to Simplicianus -- not openly but secretly as a friend -- "You
must know that I am a Christian." To which Simplicianus replied,
"I shall not believe it, nor shall I count you among the
Christians, until I see you in the Church of Christ." Victorinus
then asked, with mild mockery, "Is it then the walls that make
Christians?"  Thus he often would affirm that he was already a
Christian, and as often Simplicianus made the same answer; and
just as often his jest about the walls was repeated.  He was
fearful of offending his friends, proud demon worshipers, from the
height of whose Babylonian dignity, as from the tops of the cedars
of Lebanon which the Lord had not yet broken down, he feared that
a storm of enmity would descend upon him.
     But he steadily gained strength from reading and inquiry, and
came to fear lest he should be denied by Christ before the holy
angels if he now was afraid to confess him before men.  Thus he
came to appear to himself guilty of a great fault, in being
ashamed of the sacraments of the humility of thy Word, when he was
not ashamed of the sacrilegious rites of those proud demons, whose
pride he had imitated and whose rites he had shared.  From this he
became bold-faced against vanity and shamefaced toward the truth.
Thus, suddenly and unexpectedly, he said to Simplicianus -- as he
himself told me -- "Let us go to the church; I wish to become a
Christian." Simplicianus went with him, scarcely able to contain
himself for joy.  He was admitted to the first sacraments of
instruction, and not long afterward gave in his name that he might
receive the baptism of regeneration.  At this Rome marveled and
the Church rejoiced.  The proud saw and were enraged; they gnashed
their teeth and melted away!  But the Lord God was thy servant's
hope and he paid no attention to their vanity and lying madness.
     5.  Finally, when the hour arrived for him to make a public
profession of his faith -- which at Rome those who are about to
enter into thy grace make from a platform in the full sight of the
faithful people, in a set form of words learned by heart -- the
presbyters offered Victorinus the chance to make his profession
more privately, for this was the custom for some who were likely
to be afraid through bashfulness.  But Victorinus chose rather to
profess his salvation in the presence of the holy congregation.
For there was no salvation in the rhetoric which he taught: yet he
had professed that openly.  Why, then, should he shrink from
naming thy Word before the sheep of thy flock, when he had not
shrunk from uttering his own words before the mad multitude?
     So, then, when he ascended the platform to make his
profession, everyone, as they recognized him, whispered his name
one to the other, in tones of jubilation.  Who was there among
them that did not know him?  And a low murmur ran through the
mouths of all the rejoicing multitude: "Victorinus!  Victorinus!"
There was a sudden burst of exaltation at the sight of him, and
suddenly they were hushed that they might hear him.  He pronounced
the true faith with an excellent boldness, and all desired to take
him to their very heart -- indeed, by their love and joy they did
take him to their heart.  And they received him with loving and
joyful hands.

                          CHAPTER III

     6.  O good God, what happens in a man to make him rejoice
more at the salvation of a soul that has been despaired of and
then delivered from greater danger than over one who has never
lost hope, or never been in such imminent danger?  For thou also,
O most merciful Father, "dost rejoice more over one that repents
than over ninety and nine just persons that need no
repentance."[243]  And we listen with much delight whenever we
hear how the lost sheep is brought home again on the shepherd's
shoulders while the angels rejoice; or when the piece of money is
restored to its place in the treasury and the neighbors rejoice
with the woman who found it.[244]  And the joy of the solemn
festival of thy house constrains us to tears when it is read in
thy house: about the younger son who "was dead and is alive again,
was lost and is found." For it is thou who rejoicest both in us
and in thy angels, who are holy through holy love.  For thou art
ever the same because thou knowest unchangeably all things which
remain neither the same nor forever.
     7.  What, then, happens in the soul when it takes more
delight at finding or having restored to it the things it loves
than if it had always possessed them?  Indeed, many other things
bear witness that this is so -- all things are full of witnesses,
crying out, "So it is." The commander triumphs in victory; yet he
could not have conquered if he had not fought; and the greater the
peril of the battle, the more the joy of the triumph.  The storm
tosses the voyagers, threatens shipwreck, and everyone turns pale
in the presence of death.  Then the sky and sea grow calm, and
they rejoice as much as they had feared.  A loved one is sick and
his pulse indicates danger; all who desire his safety are
themselves sick at heart; he recovers, though not able as yet to
walk with his former strength; and there is more joy now than
there was before when he walked sound and strong.  Indeed, the
very pleasures of human life -- not only those which rush upon us
unexpectedly and involuntarily, but also those which are voluntary
and planned -- men obtain by difficulties.  There is no pleasure
in caring and drinking unless the pains of hunger and thirst have
preceded.  Drunkards even eat certain salt meats in order to
create a painful thirst -- and when the drink allays this, it
causes pleasure.  It is also the custom that the affianced bride
should not be immediately given in marriage so that the husband
may not esteem her any less, whom as his betrothed he longed for.
     8.  This can be seen in the case of base and dishonorable
pleasure.  But it is also apparent in pleasures that are permitted
and lawful: in the sincerity of honest friendship; and in him who
was dead and lived again, who had been lost and was found.  The
greater joy is everywhere preceded by the greater pain.  What does
this mean, O Lord my God, when thou art an everlasting joy to
thyself, and some creatures about thee are ever rejoicing in thee?
What does it mean that this portion of creation thus ebbs and
flows, alternately in want and satiety?  Is this their mode of
being and is this all thou hast allotted to them: that, from the
highest heaven to the lowest earth, from the beginning of the
world to the end, from the angels to the worm, from the first
movement to the last, thou wast assigning to all their proper
places and their proper seasons -- to all the kinds of good things
and to all thy just works?  Alas, how high thou art in the highest
and how deep in the deepest!  Thou never departest from us, and
yet only with difficulty do we return to thee.

                          CHAPTER IV

     9.  Go on, O Lord, and act: stir us up and call us back;
inflame us and draw us to thee; stir us up and grow sweet to us;
let us now love thee, let us run to thee.  Are there not many men
who, out of a deeper pit of darkness than that of Victorinus,
return to thee -- who draw near to thee and are illuminated by
that light which gives those who receive it power from thee to
become thy sons?  But if they are less well-known, even those who
know them rejoice less for them.  For when many rejoice together
the joy of each one is fuller, in that they warm one another,
catch fire from each other; moreover, those who are well-known
influence many toward salvation and take the lead with many to
follow them.  Therefore, even those who took the way before them
rejoice over them greatly, because they do not rejoice over them
alone.  But it ought never to be that in thy tabernacle the
persons of the rich should be welcome before the poor, or the
nobly born before the rest -- since "thou hast rather chosen the
weak things of the world to confound the strong; and hast chosen
the base things of the world and things that are despised, and the
things that are not, in order to bring to nought the things that
are."[245]  It was even "the least of the apostles" by whose
tongue thou didst sound forth these words.  And when Paulus the
proconsul had his pride overcome by the onslaught of the apostle
and he was made to pass under the easy yoke of thy Christ and
became an officer of the great King, he also desired to be called
Paul instead of Saul, his former name, in testimony to such a
great victory.[246]  For the enemy is more overcome in one on whom
he has a greater hold, and whom he has hold of more completely.
But the proud he controls more readily through their concern about
their rank and, through them, he controls more by means of their
influence.  The more, therefore, the world prized the heart of
Victorinus (which the devil had held in an impregnable stronghold)
and the tongue of Victorinus (that sharp, strong weapon with which
the devil had slain so many), all the more exultingly should Thy
sons rejoice because our King hath bound the strong man, and they
saw his vessels taken from him and cleansed, and made fit for thy
honor and "profitable to the Lord for every good work."[247]

                           CHAPTER V

     10.  Now when this man of thine, Simplicianus, told me the
story of Victorinus, I was eager to imitate him.  Indeed, this was
Simplicianus' purpose in telling it to me.  But when he went on to
tell how, in the reign of the Emperor Julian, there was a law
passed by which Christians were forbidden to teach literature and
rhetoric; and how Victorinus, in ready obedience to the law, chose
to abandon his "school of words" rather than thy Word, by which
thou makest eloquent the tongues of the dumb -- he appeared to me
not so much brave as happy, because he had found a reason for
giving his time wholly to thee.  For this was what I was longing
to do; but as yet I was bound by the iron chain of my own will.
The enemy held fast my will, and had made of it a chain, and had
bound me tight with it.  For out of the perverse will came lust,
and the service of lust ended in habit, and habit, not resisted,
became necessity.  By these links, as it were, forged together --
which is why I called it "a chain" -- a hard bondage held me in
slavery.  But that new will which had begun to spring up in me
freely to worship thee and to enjoy thee, O my God, the only
certain Joy, was not able as yet to overcome my former
willfulness, made strong by long indulgence.  Thus my two wills --
the old and the new, the carnal and the spiritual -- were in
conflict within me; and by their discord they tore my soul apart.
     11.  Thus I came to understand from my own experience what I
had read, how "the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit
against the flesh."[248]  I truly lusted both ways, yet more in
that which I approved in myself than in that which I disapproved
in myself.  For in the latter it was not now really I that was
involved, because here I was rather an unwilling sufferer than a
willing actor.  And yet it was through me that habit had become an
armed enemy against me, because I had willingly come to be what I
unwillingly found myself to be.
     Who, then, can with any justice speak against it, when just
punishment follows the sinner?  I had now no longer my accustomed
excuse that, as yet, I hesitated to forsake the world and serve
thee because my perception of the truth was uncertain.  For now it
was certain.  But, still bound to the earth, I refused to be thy
soldier; and was as much afraid of being freed from all
entanglements as we ought to fear to be entangled.
     12.  Thus with the baggage of the world I was sweetly
burdened, as one in slumber, and my musings on thee were like the
efforts of those who desire to awake, but who are still
overpowered with drowsiness and fall back into deep slumber.  And
as no one wishes to sleep forever (for all men rightly count
waking better) -- yet a man will usually defer shaking off his
drowsiness when there is a heavy lethargy in his limbs; and he is
glad to sleep on even when his reason disapproves, and the hour
for rising has struck -- so was I assured that it was much better
for me to give myself up to thy love than to go on yielding myself
to my own lust.  Thy love satisfied and vanquished me; my lust
pleased and fettered me.[249]  I had no answer to thy calling to
me, "Awake, you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ
shall give you light."[250]  On all sides, thou didst show me that
thy words are true, and I, convicted by the truth, had nothing at
all to reply but the drawling and drowsy words: "Presently; see,
presently.  Leave me alone a little while." But "presently,
presently," had no present; and my "leave me alone a little while"
went on for a long while.  In vain did I "delight in thy law in
the inner man" while "another law in my members warred against the
law of my mind and brought me into captivity to the law of sin
which is in my members." For the law of sin is the tyranny of
habit, by which the mind is drawn and held, even against its will.
Yet it deserves to be so held because it so willingly falls into
the habit.  "O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from
the body of this death" but thy grace alone, through Jesus Christ
our Lord?[251]

                          CHAPTER VI

     13.  And now I will tell and confess unto thy name, O Lord,
my helper and my redeemer, how thou didst deliver me from the
chain of sexual desire by which I was so tightly held, and from
the slavery of worldly business.[252]  With increasing anxiety I
was going about my usual affairs, and daily sighing to thee.  I
attended thy church as frequently as my business, under the burden
of which I groaned, left me free to do so.  Alypius was with me,
disengaged at last from his legal post, after a third term as
assessor, and now waiting for private clients to whom he might
sell his legal advice as I sold the power of speaking (as if it
could be supplied by teaching).  But Nebridius had consented, for
the sake of our friendship, to teach under Verecundus -- a citizen
of Milan and professor of grammar, and a very intimate friend of
us all -- who ardently desired, and by right of friendship
demanded from us, the faithful aid he greatly needed.  Nebridius
was not drawn to this by any desire of gain -- for he could have
made much more out of his learning had he been so inclined -- but
as he was a most sweet and kindly friend, he was unwilling, out of
respect for the duties of friendship, to slight our request.  But
in this he acted very discreetly, taking care not to become known
to those persons who had great reputations in the world.  Thus he
avoided all distractions of mind, and reserved as many hours as
possible to pursue or read or listen to discussions about wisdom.
     14.  On a certain day, then, when Nebridius was away -- for
some reason I cannot remember -- there came to visit Alypius and
me at our house one Ponticianus, a fellow countryman of ours from
Africa, who held high office in the emperor's court.  What he
wanted with us I do not know; but we sat down to talk together,
and it chanced that he noticed a book on a game table before us.
He took it up, opened it, and, contrary to his expectation, found
it to be the apostle Paul, for he imagined that it was one of my
wearisome rhetoric textbooks.  At this, he looked up at me with a
smile and expressed his delight and wonder that he had so
unexpectedly found this book and only this one, lying before my
eyes; for he was indeed a Christian and a faithful one at that,
and often he prostrated himself before thee, our God, in the
church in constant daily prayer.  When I had told him that I had
given much attention to these writings, a conversation followed in
which he spoke of Anthony, the Egyptian monk, whose name was in
high repute among thy servants, although up to that time not
familiar to me.  When he learned this, he lingered on the topic,
giving us an account of this eminent man, and marveling at our
ignorance.  We in turn were amazed to hear of thy wonderful works
so fully manifested in recent times -- almost in our own --
occurring in the true faith and the Catholic Church. We all
wondered -- we, that these things were so great, and he, that we
had never heard of them.
     15.  From this, his conversation turned to the multitudes in
the monasteries and their manners so fragrant to thee, and to the
teeming solitudes of the wilderness, of which we knew nothing at
all.  There was even a monastery at Milan, outside the city's
walls, full of good brothers under the fostering care of Ambrose
-- and we were ignorant of it.  He went on with his story, and we
listened intently and in silence.  He then told us how, on a
certain afternoon, at Trier,[253] when the emperor was occupied
watching the gladiatorial games, he and three comrades went out
for a walk in the gardens close to the city walls.  There, as they
chanced to walk two by two, one strolled away with him, while the
other two went on by themselves.  As they rambled, these first two
came upon a certain cottage where lived some of thy servants, some
of the "poor in spirit" ("of such is the Kingdom of Heaven"),
where they found the book in which was written the life of
Anthony!  One of them began to read it, to marvel and to be
inflamed by it.  While reading, he meditated on embracing just
such a life, giving up his worldly employment to seek thee alone.
These two belonged to the group of officials called "secret
service agents."[254]  Then, suddenly being overwhelmed with a
holy love and a sober shame and as if in anger with himself, he
fixed his eyes on his friend, exclaiming: "Tell me, I beg you,
what goal are we seeking in all these toils of ours?  What is it
that we desire?  What is our motive in public service?  Can our
hopes in the court rise higher than to be 'friends of the
emperor'[255]?  But how frail, how beset with peril, is that
pride!  Through what dangers must we climb to a greater danger?

(continued in part 12 ...)

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