Augustine’s Confessions is a critical engagement with a certain corpus of texts. His “liberal education,” on the one hand, and his reading of the Bible, on the other, are crucial for how Augustine writes his autobiography. Against this background, pick a motif from the Confessions and trace it back to its source in the canon of texts described above. A motif can be defined as: “one of the dominant ideas in a work of literature; a part of the main theme. It may consist of a character, a recurrent image, or a verbal pattern.”1 You may find more than one source for the motif of your choice, but limit yourself to texts we have read in class and do not include more than 3 sources! Discuss the way the motif is used in the source text and analyze how Augustine uses the same or a similar motif. Does Augustine’s use of the motif transform the text he is quoting? What does the motif add to Augustine’s text? How does the motif position Augustine as a subject vis-à-vis the canon he is reading?
A central motif in Augustine's Confessions is mind-body dualism. This was strongly influenced by Plato, who was the dominant influence on pagan philosophy in late antiquity. As Augustine's Greek was limited, he became acquainted with Plato via Cicero's Tuscalan Disputations, Academica, and similar works, and other Latin neoplatonic works.
Plato sees matter as inherently chaotic and functioning as an obstacle to knowledge of the forms and the divine. Augustine synthesizes the Platonic hierarchy...
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