St. Augustine, trans. Henry Chadwick

Oxford University, 2009


On the sins of infants: “The sin of my infancy” was indignation “at the refusals of free and older people and of parents. . .who would not yield to my whims.” Also, attempts “to strike them.” Also, “I have personally watched and studied a jealous baby. He could not speak, and, pale with jealousy and bitterness, glared at his brother sharing his mother’s milk. . . . it can hardly be innocence, when the source of the milk is flowing richly and abundantly, not to endure a share going to one’s blood-brother, who is in profound need, dependent for life exclusively on that one food.”

2. 3. 7

Augustine as a teen: “. . .among my peer groups I was ashamed not to be equally guilty of shameful behavior when I heard them boasting of their sexual exploits. . . .What is more worthy of censure than vice? Yet I went deeper into vice to avoid being despised, and when there was no act by admitting to which I could rival my depraved companions, I used to pretend I had done things I had not done at all, so that my innocence should not lead my companions to scorn my lack of courage and let my chastity be taken for a mark of inferiority.”

2. 4. 9

Reflecting on his theft of pears Augustine says this: “I stole something which I had in plenty and of much better quality. My desire was to enjoy not what I sought by stealing but merely the excitement of thieving and the doing of what was wrong. . . .I became evil for no reason. I had no motives for my wickedness except wickedness itself. It was foul, and I loved it. . . .I was seeking not to gain anything by shameful means, but shame for its own sake.”