Augustine, Letters

LCL 239: 2-3

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S. Aureli Augustini Epistulae

No. 1 (Ep. II) Zenobio Augustinus

Bene inter nos convenit, ut opinor, omnia, quae corporeus sensus adtingit, ne puncto quidem temporis eodem modo manere posse, sed labi, effluere et praesens nihil obtinere, id est, ut latine loquar, non esse. Horum itaque amorem perniciosissimum poenarumque plenissimum vera et divina philosophia monet frenare atque sopire, ut se toto animus, etiam dum hoc corpus agit, in ea, quae semper eiusdem modi sunt neque peregrino pulchro placent, feratur atque aestuet. Quae cum ita sint et cum te verum ac simplicem, qualis sine ulla sollicitudine amari potes, in semet ipsa mens videat, fatemur tamen congressum istum atque conspectum tuum, cum a nobis corpore discedis locisque seiungeris, quaerere nos eoque, dum licet, cupere fratribus. Quod profecto vitium, si te bene novi, amas in nobis et, cum omnia bona optes carissimis et familiarissimis

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Letters of St. Augustine

No. 1 (Ep. II) (a.d. 386) Augustine to Zenobiusa

We are quite agreed, I think, that everything that is the object of our bodily senses is incapable of remaining a single moment in the same state, but is in motion and transition and possesses no actuality, that is, in plain language, has no real existence. In consequence, true, divine philosophy admonishes us to check and mitigate our affection for such things, as being very baneful and productive of detriment, so that even while in control of this mortal body, the soul may with intensity and fervour pursue those things that are ever the same and satisfy with no transient charm. Although this is true and although my mind envisages you in your simple and unalloyed character, as an individual who may be loved without disquietude, still I must confess that when you are absent in body and distant in space, I miss the pleasure of meeting and seeing you, and desire it, when it can be had, for the brethren. This fault, if I know you aright, you are glad to find in me, and, although you pray for every good thing for your dearest and closest

  • aWritten at Cassiciacum towards the end of 386, while Augustine was still in retirement and immersed in philosophical studies. In these Zenobius was keenly interested, and to him Augustine dedicated the treatise De Ordine (a.d. 386). He afterwards became a keeper of public records (magister memoriae, Ep. cxvii.).
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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.augustine-letters.1930