Saint Augustine: How He Fused Classical Culture (I.E., Both Stoicism and Platonism) with Christianity
How he fused Classical culture (i.e., both Stoicism and Platonism) with Christianity
In Augustine’s day there were many religions available to choose from some of which had many gods. St. Augustine was born to a pagan father and a Christian mother. He lived a life of immorality until his early thirties when he suddenly took a new path. During his upbringing his parents began to instill their beliefs and way of living which he later began to question. Though his mother taught and raised him as a Christian he did not fully accept the faith. Instead, during his education, he became fascinated with the writings of the great philosophers such as Plato. The ideas expressed in the writings of the great philosophers, such as Stoicism and Platonism, would leave a lasting impact on Augustine. In trying to search for answers to his questions he came across untruths which made him more confused yet motivated him to delve even further in seeking the truth. His journey was a long but fulfilling one where he eventually found solace and true happiness in Christianity. The Confessions of Saint Augustine is an autobiographical tale in which St. Augustine tells the story of his life through the view of a devout convert. Saint Augustine’s incorporation of both Stoicism and Platonism into his Confessions fused the gap between Classical culture and Christianity. Stoicism was a school of philosophy where those who practiced it believed that it was wrong to show any kind of emotion in any circumstance. Even in times of death, as Epictetus stated in the Enchiridion “for the opinion about death, that it is terrible is the terrible thing.”1 It was acceptable to feel some sympathy for someone else’s emotions, just not empathy, “Do not be unwilling to show him sympathy, and even if it happens so, to lament with him. But take care that you do not lament internally also.”2 Basically Stoicism is guarding your emotions and viewing everything with a passive mindset.