Family Relations In Augustine's The Confessions

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The Confessions of Saint Augustine are written with such religious fervour that it might at first be easy to miss the cultural and anthropological value of the book(s). In painting a vivid picture of his home and the years he spent maturing into the philosopher and theologian that would eventually alter the face of Christian thought, Augustine also leaves traces of the cultural and familial heritage of the later Roman Empire, one that is not dissimilar to our own.

In many ways the intimate parental portrayals of The Confessions resembles very closely the contemporary views of parental roles: his father urges strongly that he pursue education for his own social and economic well being (Make something of yourself!) yet his mother is immersed in a more intimate and emotional bond, constantly keeping track of his spiritual progress and well being (We worry about you!) Dramatically intertwined with Augustine's tale of salvation is his mother- Monica.

Her strong maternal bond with Augustine contrasts the material desires set forth by his father. "But in my mother's heart, you had already begun your temple",( II,6). says Augustine, beginning the implication that Monica is both a parental and spiritual focal point in his life whom God is using to help Augustine on his journey towards Christianity.

This "temple" manifests itself throughout the story, as Monica has a prophetic dream that implies Augustine will convert to her Christian faith, and that they would be unified in their beliefs " "˜That where she was, there was I also', and when she looked, she saw me standing by her in the same rule."(III, 11) This dream represents an intimate and transcendent bond with Augustine that culminates near the end of the biographical portion of the text when the prophecy has supposedly been fulfilled.

While this connection may...