Some figures so transcend their time and place in the folk memory of a culture that historians have difficulty resituating them in the world from which they emerged. This is certainly true of St. Augustine of Hippo. Indeed, of all the great individuals of the Ancient World, St. Augustine is perhaps the one which most people would have trouble placing in time and space. It is therefore a useful exercise from time to time to reeducate ourselves regarding Augustine's cultural milieu. What makes this moment especially appropriate is not merely the occasion of this symposium, but the fact that over the last two decades our knowledge and understanding of Augustine's homeland, Roman North Africa, has advanced enormously as a result of much new archaeological and historical research. My intention this evening is to offer un petit gout or small taste in words and images of the North African world of Augustine in the light of this new work. A two-dimensional approach lasting for just short of an hour can hardly recapture a proper sense of that world, but it can be enlightening, nonetheless, especially for those who have never ventured to the harsh but enchanting environs of North Africa. If there is a common theme that meanders its way throughout my presentation. it is of an Africa that marched slowly and backward into a rapidly changing future. a future manifested in the last days of Augustine himself in the successful Siege of his beloved Hippo by the Vandals.


Issue contains the subject matter of the 1994 Philosophy Colloquium, which had the theme "Augustine on Human Goodness: Metaphysics, Ethics and Politics." It was held April 7-9, 1994.



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