tuis, ab hoc eos sanare metuis. Si autem tam potenti animo es, ut et agnoscere hunc laqueum et eo captos inridere valeas, ne tu magnus atque alius. Ego quidem quamdiu desidero absentem, desiderari me volo. Invigilo tamen, quantum queo, et nitor, ut nihil amem, quod abesse a me invito potest. Quod dum officio, commoneo te interim, qualiscumque sis, inchoatam tecum disputationem perficiendam, si curae nobismet ipsis sumus. Nam eam cum Alypio perfici nequaquam sinerem, etiam si vellet. Non vult autem; non enim est humanitatis eius non mecum operam dare, ut in quam multis possemus litteris te nobiscum teneamus nescio qua necessitate fugientem.
1Mirum admodum est, quam mihi praeter spem evenerit, quod, cum requiro, quibus epistulis tuis mihi respondendum remanserit, unam tantum inveni, quae me adhuc debitorem teneret, qua petis, ut tanto nostro otio, quantum esse arbitraris tecum aut nobiscum
friends, you are reluctant to see them cured of it. But if you have attained such strength of mind that you can both discern this pitfall and make mockery of those who have fallen into it, then you are indeed great and different from me, for I want my absent friend to miss me as long as I miss him. Yet, as far as I can, I watchfully strive to set my affections upon nothing that can cause me regret by its absence. Though engaged in this preventive course, I remind you in the meantime, whatever be your state of mind, that we must, if we care for each other, finish the discussion I had begun with you, for I should certainly not allow Alypiusa to help in finishing it, even if he wanted to, which he doesn’t. His kindly nature would make him second my efforts to keep contact with you by as many letters as I can send, even when your duties drive you farther away from us.
It is quite curious how surprised I am to discover, 1on inquiring what letters of yours I have still to answer, that I am in your debt for only one. In it you ask me to tell you what progress I have made, with the abundant leisure you think I have or wish, as
- aAlypius was born, like Augustine, at Tagaste, but was slightly younger. He attended Augustine’s lectures in Carthage, became a Manichee when he did, followed him to Italy and was present during the struggle that preceded Augustine’s conversion. They were baptized together, then shared the monastic life at Tagaste from 391 to 394, when Alypius visited Jerome at Bethlehem. Alypius became bishop of Tagaste some months before Augustine’s elevation to Hippo, and held that post till his death about 430.
- bNebridius, born near Carthage, had accompanied Augustine to Rome and Milan, “for no other reason than that he might live with me in the most ardent pursuit of truth and wisdom” (Confessions, vi. 17). He had not joined the party at Cassiciacum, and this and the following letter show his anxiety to be beside Augustine, sharing his life and studies. He died soon after Augustine’s conversion.