Augustine of Hippo: City of God

(413–426)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

Reproduced here are excerpts from Book First, Book Fourteenth, Book Fifteenth, and Book Nineteenth of The City of God. In the brief excerpt from Book First, Augustine dedicates his work to Marcellinus of Carthage, a friend who had died the death of a Christian martyr in 413. He announces that the theme of his work is the “glorious city of God” and that his goal is to provide a “defence against those who prefer their own gods to the Founder of this city.”

In Book Fourteenth, Augustine examines original sin, teaching his readers that original sin led to the carnality and vice of humankind. He begins (in item 4) by announcing that when “man lives according to man, not according to God, he is like the devil.” If God is the “truth,” says Augustine, then all sin is a lie. Citing Paul, the author of the New Testament Letters to the Corinthians, he argues that “the animal man perceiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are...

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"The Ecstasy of Saint Augustine" by Anthony van Dyck (Yale University Art Gallery)

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