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Possidius, Life of St. Augustine (1919) pp.1-37.  Translator's Introduction.




A Dissertation presented to the Faculty of Princeton University in Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy


Accepted by the Department of Classics, 1918. Published 1919. Printed in the United States of America.




p. 24, I 7, For substitution read substitutions, p. 32,1. 8, col. 2, Insert 118866. p. 32, 1. 21, col. 3, Insert 51v-62v.

p. 38,1. 25, For Inspirante 60, 23, read Inspirante... .60, 23.

p. 42, 1. 33, For 24 medullis read 21 medullis.

p. 44, next to last line For congitando read cogitando.

p. 50,1. 31, For pententes read petentes

p. 64,1. 26, For 2 multa read 1 multe.

p. 100,1. 28, For 7 Et erat read 1 Et erat

p. 102,1. 27, For dicideret read decideret.

p. in, next to last line, For his read this.

p. 134, last line, For Virg. read Verg.

p. 142,1. 31, For disinit read desinit.

p. 142, t 33, For tracatus read tractatus.

p, 152,1. 14, For participal read participial.

p. 158,1. 11, For consessive read concessive.

p. 164, Omit note on dicebant____quia.




I take this opportunity of expressing my gratitude to Dean A. F. West for his constant help and guidance in the preparation of this edition. It was begun at his suggestion and has been continually under his direction. I am further indebted to Professor J. H. Westcott for assistance on certain law terms, to Professor Duane Reed Stuart for his thorough criticisms, especially of the text, and also to Professor P. van den Ven and Dr. R. J. Deferrari for valuable suggestions in the reconstruction of the text. Owing to war conditions abroad it was impracticable to examine the MSS. of the Vita in the libraries where they are deposited. Accordingly ten of the older MSS. in the Bibliothèque Nationale and the Vatican were secured in photostatic copies, under the supervision of M. Henri Omont, Conservateur des Manuscrits, and of the late Director Jesse Benedict Carter and Professor Albert W. Van Buren of the American Academy in Rome. Thanks are also due to Mr, Gordon W. Thayer, Librarian of the J. G. White Collection, Cleveland Public Library, for providing me with notices of certain MSS. of the Vita from catalogues otherwise unavailable. The map was prepared by my friend Dr. W. E. Cockfield on the basis of the map in Volume VIII of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum.

H. T. W.

Princeton, New Jersey, 
June 11, 1918.




1. Introduction...................................... 7

Sources for the Life of Augustine...............7

Early Life...................................... 7

Family......................................... 8

Friends........................................ 10

The Monastery.................................., 11

Life of Possidius................................ 12

His Intimacy with Augustine..................... 17

Augustine's references to Possidius................ 18

His peculiar Fitness for his Task.................. 18

His Reliability.................................. 19

His appreciation of Augustine.................... 20

Date of Composition of the Vita................... 21

Style........................................ 22

Manuscripts.................................... 23

Editions........................................ 32

The Text....................................... 34

2. Abbreviations in the apparatus criticus............... 37

3. Latin Text and Translation........................38

4. Notes...........................................147

5. Select Bibliography ..........................169

6. Index to Latin Text..............................170

7. Index to Notes...................................172




Sources for the life of Augustine.

Our knowledge of the life of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, is derived from two main sources: (1) Augustine's own Confessiones, covering the period up to the time of his conversion in 387 and setting forth chiefly the history of his spiritual development, and (2) the Vita Augustini of Possidius, covering the time from Augustine's conversion to his death in 430 and containing a record of his daily life and activities. Outside of these two main sources many references also occur in his other writings, chiefly in the Epistles.

Early Life.

Aurelius Augustinus was born at Tagaste in Numidia on November 13, 354,1 about seven years after Chrysostom and fourteen after Jerome and Ambrose. After spending a free and careless boyhood at Tagaste, he pursued the usual course of grammar and rhetoric at Madaura and Carthage and afterward taught for a short time in his native town. In 374 he returned to Carthage and taught rhetoric for nine years. During this period he became deeply interested in Manichaeanism, merely as an auditor, however, and not as one of the electi. It was here he met the famous Manichaean teacher Faustus from whom he expected much, but soon found that, despite his gorgeous rhetoric, he was unable to answer any searching questions. Dissatisfied with his life at Carthage and seeking a larger career, he went to Rome. Moreover he had heard that the students of Rome were better behaved than those at Carthage. |8 Among the latter were those known as eversores, who went about in groups, broke into classes, overthrew the benches and provoked disorder in general. So in spite of the tearful entreaties of his mother Monica, he evaded her and by night secretly took ship for Italy. However, when he arrived in Rome he soon discovered that while his students kept better order, they had a custom which was to prove most annoying to him. For after they had attended his classes a while they would go off to another teacher and leave their fees unpaid. Accordingly when the way was opened for him to teach in Milan he went there without delay.

By this time he had abandoned Manichaeanism and was taken for a short time with the scepticism of the New Academy. In Milan he soon became engrossed in studying Neo-Platonism and also came under the influence of Ambrose, Bishop of that city. After a memorable moral and intellectual struggle he was converted to the Christian faith and baptized by Ambrose at Easter 387. He then returned to Tagaste, travelling with his mother who died on the way at Ostia. On arriving at Tagaste he lived in seclusion till he was made presbyter in the church at Hippo in 391. At this point the narrative of Possidius begins.


Augustine's father Patricius was a man of curial rank in rather humble circumstances. He was of a somewhat coarse and sensual temper, given to occasional fits of anger, but generally easy-going. He was anxious that his son should distinguish himself as a lawyer and even borrowed money to enable him to study at Carthage. Aside from this, however, Patricius seems to have paid little heed to his welfare and training. He had not been a Christian up to the time of his son's departure for Carthage, but through the influence of his wife Monica became a catechumen about the year 370 and was baptized shortly before his death in the following year.

Monica, the mother of Augustine, is forever revered in Christian history. Augustine was not ignorant of her religion, |9 for she had trained him in his childhood,2 but it soon slipped from his memory when he went away to school. From this time to his conversion in 387, while he was trying one philosophy after another, Monica did not cease to hope and pray that her son would yet become a Christian, though she was at one time unwilling to have him with her in the house because of his outspoken contempt for the Christian faith.3 He says that she wept more bitterly over his spiritual death than other mothers over the bodily death of their children.4 When, in spite of her entreaties, he stole away and took ship for Italy, she would not leave him but followed all the way to Milan, where she constantly attended the sermons of the statesman-bishop Ambrose. With Augustine's conversion her mission on earth was ended 5 and she saw nothing of his later far-reaching influence, for she died at Ostia in the fall of that same year. Augustine's tribute to his mother 6 is one of the most perfect and touching in literature.

Augustine was not the only child. He had a brother, Navigius 7 and one sister referred to in his letter to the nuns.8 Possidius also mentions her.9 Though her name is not known, tradition gives it as Perpetua.10 Whether Augustine had any other brothers or sisters is not certain. His natural son Adeodatus, born about 372, gave promise of marked ability, but died in his youth.11 He was baptized with his father in 387. The names of several other relatives outside the circle of his immediate family appear in his writings. In the De Beata |10 Vita i 6 he speaks of two cousins, Lastidianus and Rusticus, who took part in the discussions at Cassiciacum and in Serm. CCCLVI 3 he mentions, without naming him, a nephew who was a subdiaconus. Ep. LII is written to another cousin, Severinus, urging him to leave the Donatists and return to the Catholic Church. Besides these Possidius writes of fratris sui filiae in Chapter XXVI—a phrase, which also seems to prove that Augustine had only one brother.


In speaking of Augustine's friends we mean only the most intimate. They are to be found in two groups, the earlier at the Villa of Cassiciacum, near Milan, to which Augustine and his friends retired during the months immediately preceding his baptism, and the later group at Hippo. Chief among these friends was his fellow-townsman and life-long companion Alypius, who accompanied him through the years of uncertainty at Carthage and Milan and faithfully reflected each of Augustine's changes of faith. After living with Augustine in the monastery at Hippo for several years, he became bishop of his native town Tagaste. The group at Cassiciacum was small and most intimate, consisting of Monica, who not infrequently took part in the debate, Adeodatus, Navigius, Alypius., the two cousins Lastidianus and Rusticus mentioned above, and two pupils, Trygetius and Licentius,12 a son of his former patron Romanianus.13 They spent the time studying and discussing questions of religion and philosophy. The other circle of friends which calls for special mention is found in the monastery at Hippo. Here Possidius and others 14 first appear in Augustine's life. Their intimate manner of life is described |11 by Possidius 15 and even more satisfactorily in two of Augustine's sermons.16

The monastery.

This monastery which had its beginning at Tagaste and was later established at Hippo when Augustine became presbyter there, was the first one in North Africa and the parent of the other North African monasteries. Possidius states 17 that the bishops who went out from this monastery at Hippo followed their master's example and established other monasteries in their episcopal sees. Augustine's original purpose had been merely to withdraw from the world with a few friends and have time for undisturbed meditation and prayer. He pursued this kind of life for almost three years at Tagaste (388-391) until he was forcibly ordained presbyter at Hippo. After that he continued his purpose, but adapting it to circumstances, made the monastery rather a school for the training of the clergy. His conception of the kind of life the clergy should lead is clearly set forth in two of his sermons.18 He also established a monastery for women over which his sister presided, and after her death in 423 wrote them a letter 19 to settle their differences and to guide them in the conduct of life.

Life of Possidius.

In reviewing the life of Possidius,20 the first fact to be noted is that, apart from his relations with Augustine, he is practically unknown. He first appears as one of the group of intimate friends whom Augustine gathered around him in the monastery at Hippo and is mentioned only once after |12 Augustine's death.21 Possidius himself states at the very close of the Vita that he had lived with Augustine on terms of intimate friendship for "almost forty years." Augustine was made Presbyter at Hippo in 391 and "soon after" 22 established his monastery. As this was thirty-nine years before Augustine's death, Possidius must have become connected with the monastery at the very beginning or soon after. Where he came from and how he came to enter the monastery must remain matters of conjecture, but it seems fair to suppose that he came from Hippo or the immediate neighborhood.

The date of Possidius's birth, also, may be arrived at only approximately. As he was still living and performing his episcopal duties seven years after the death of Augustine,23 who lived to be seventy-six,24 he was in all likelihood younger than his teacher and friend. When he entered the monastery, therefore, he was probably not over thirty, as Augustine was then thirty-five. Moreover he was probably at least twenty, in view of the fact that he soon became Augustine's intimate friend. This would accordingly fix the date of his birth somewhere between the years 360 and 370.

In 397, probably within a short time after the death of Megalius, Bishop of Calama and Primate of Numidia, Possidius succeeded to this episcopate, though not to the primacy, as that was an office of seniority, not of locality, in the African Church. From this time till his activities were temporarily checked by the invasion of the Vandals, he seems to have led a not unusual life for a North African bishop of the fifth century, journeying to the various parts of his diocese, attending councils and defending the Church against the attacks of heretics. About the year 403 Possidius made two attempts to arrange |13 a public discussion with Crispinus, the Donatist bishop of Calama, which the latter each time avoided. A few days after the second refusal, while Possidius was travelling through his diocese, another Crispinus, a Donatist presbyter and perhaps a relative of the bishop Crispinus, attacked him, setting fire to the house in which he took refuge. As the bishop Crispinus did not even reprove his presbyter for this unprovoked attack, the Catholics took the matter into court and Crispinus, the bishop, was fined. Through the intervention of Possidius this fine was not exacted. Nevertheless Crispinus was not satisfied and carried his appeal to the Emperor Honorius. Thereupon, as Augustine had likewise narrowly escaped an ambuscade laid for him by the Donatists not long before, a council which met at Carthage in 404 decided to appeal to the Emperor for protection.25 In 405, accordingly, Honorius issued an edict 26 renewing the laws of Theodosius against heretics, directing furthermore that Crispinus should be fined ten pounds of gold and that the judge and court should suffer the same penalty for not having collected the fine before. This fine, however, through the intercession of Possidius, was likewise remitted.27

In 407 Possidius and Augustine, with five other bishops, were appointed as a committee to decide some ecclesiastical question, but no further record has been preserved.28 In the following year, during a riot brought about by the celebrations of the pagans, Possidius narrowly escaped with his life. On November 15, 407, Honorius had made the public celebration of heathen rites and festivals illegal.29 On June 1, 408, however, which was the pagan feast-day, as Augustine relates,30 in violation of this law the pagans of Calama performed their rites and marched past the Christian church. As no one |14 interfered and as the insult could not be tolerated, the clergy attempted to stop the celebration, but were driven back into the church and assailed with stones. Possidius did not allow this to pass unnoticed and carried the case before the proper authorities who promised to exact the penalty imposed by the law. About June 9, however, before anything had been done, the pagans again attacked the church with stones. On the following day, accordingly, Possidius and his people took the matter to court but were refused admittance. A few hours later the church was a third time besieged, and not being satisfied with the damage they could do with stones, the pagans tried to burn the buildings together with the people in them. One man was killed and Possidius escaped only by hiding in a narrow crevice while the pagans roamed about in search of him. According to Augustine they were much disappointed, since their chief desire was to do away with the bishop. The uproar was finally quieted by a stranger who seemed to have gained some influence with them. Through his efforts the captives were set free and much plunder returned. Augustine himself journeyed to Calama to comfort the people and to admonish and, if possible, convert the pagans, but evidently without much success. An edict 31 issued by Honorius in November of the same year, directing that the images and altars of the pagans be destroyed and their temples be confiscated for public use, was no doubt provoked by this disturbance.

To this period belong Possidius's two journeys to Italy. Though only one is generally mentioned, there were evidently two. The first was occasioned by the recent pagan uprising 32 and took place after July 408 and before March 27, 409. This date is made clear by a letter of Augustine in which he says that on March 27 he received an answer to a letter he had written about eight months before, when Possidius had |15 not yet embarked on his voyage.33 From this letter it would also appear that Possidius was expected to return shortly, for Augustine suggests that possibly the citizens of Calama had heard a rumor that Possidius had obtained authority to punish them more severely (severius) ,34 though no such report had as yet reached him.

The other visit to the imperial court was on an embassy appointed by a council which met at Carthage on July 1, 410.35 The purpose of this embassy was to secure the renewal of the laws against the Donatists which had been temporarily suspended.36 Possidius and his colleagues seem to have accomplished their purpose, for in August 410 Honorius issued a decree 37 warning heretics and pagans not to hold public meetings and declaring confiscation of property or even death as the penalty for violation of the law.

At the great Collatio of 411 between the Catholics and Donatists assembled at Carthage by order of the Emperor, Possidius played a rather prominent part. Two hundred and eighty-six Catholic bishops were present. From this number seven were chosen to carry on the discussion, among whom were Augustine, Possidius and Alypius,38 although the debate was carried on almost entirely by Augustine. Possidius |16 appears at two other councils. At that of Milevum in 416 39 he joined with other bishops in signing a letter,40 written probably by Augustine, to Innocent I, calling attention to the newborn Pelagian heresy and requesting that it be suppressed. Shortly afterwards, together with his old friends of the monastery at Hippo, Augustine, Alypius, Evodius and one outsider, Aurelius, Bishop of Carthage, he signed another letter 41 to Innocent, urging that this same heresy be formally denounced. The other council, though it is scarcely to be dignified by so important a name, was that held at Caesarea in 418, to which the Donatist bishop Emeritus was invited.42

When the Vandals invaded Africa in 428, Calama was one of the many towns which fell into their hands. Possidius took refuge with Augustine at Hippo, one of the three cities which still maintained their independence. There he witnessed the death of Augustine in 430 and remained till the siege of Hippo was abandoned by the Vandals in 431.43 By or before the time an agreement was reached in 435 between the Roman Emperor and the Arian Geiseric, Possidius no doubt returned to his former charge, where he probably remained unmolested as long as he performed his duties quietly and did not attract the attention of the Arian authorities. In 437, however, when Geiseric endeavored to substitute Arianism for the Catholic faith, Possidius and several other bishops were driven from their sees because they refused to yield to the demands of the Vandal ruler.44 This is the last we hear of Possidius. He may have gone to Italy, but there is no evidence to that effect. He is honored by the Catholic Church on May 17.

His intimacy with Augustine.

Were it not for Possidius's own statement in the last paragraph of the Vita, we should probably not recognize so readily |17 the intimacy which existed between the two bishops. Among Augustine's letters there is only one 45 addressed to Possidius and that is merely an answer to a question on discipline, such as might have been written to any stranger who had asked for advice. It was written in great haste and there is nothing in it to indicate any particular friendship. However, he spent much time in company with Augustine. For the first five or six years of their acquaintance he lived in that intimacy of daily companionship which makes or breaks a friendship as nothing else can, dwelling in the same house, eating at the same table, sharing in the same duties and experiencing the same trials and temptations. On one occasion he tells of a conversation at the table, then of a convert who came to see Augustine and, nobis coram, declared his former guilt and asked for their prayers. Again, we hear of Augustine's righteous indignation when some friends who were visiting disregarded his prohibition of gossip.46 There are many instances of this intimate nature.

After Possidius left the monastery at Hippo to take up his duties as bishop of Calama he was by no means separated from his friend. Calama was only about forty miles distant from Hippo and the two bishops found many opportunities of seeing each other. Now they are attending the same council, or are together on a special committee, or are side by side in a debate with the heretics, or Possidius is visiting Augustine. Finally, when Calama was taken by the Vandals, Possidius withdrew to Hippo and was with Augustine all through his last illness and at the time of his death. None of the other members of that monastery, save Alypius only, is associated with Augustine as frequently as is Possidius.

Augustine's references to Possidius.

Besides the above-mentioned letter addressed to Possidius and those cited in this account of Possidius's life, there are several other references to him in Augustine's writings. |18 Probably the most significant of these is found in Ep, CI, addressed to a certain Bishop Memor, in which Augustine discloses his affection for Possidius by calling him "no small image of my own self": Nimis autem ingratum ac ferreum fuit, ut te qui nos sic amas, hic sanctus frater et collega noster Possidius, in quo nostram non parvam praesentiam reperies, vet non disceret, vel sine litteris nostris disceret. Est enim per nostrum ministerium non litteris illis, quas variaram servi libidinum liberales vacant, sed dominico pane nutritus, quantus ei potuit per nostras angustias dispensari. This is Augustine's fullest reference to Possidius and as it agrees so well with Possidius's own statements it serves to confirm our faith in him. Another letter written about this same time, while not so pertinent, still deserves notice. It begins in this manner: Cum vos fratres nostri comiunctissimi nobis, quos nobiscum desiderati desiderare et salutati resalutare consuestis, assidue vident, non tam augentur bona nostra, quam consolantur mala.47 Though Augustine may here be speaking in general terms, yet he means Possidius in particular, for he at once proceeds to name him as the person he has in mind. The other references to Possidius are of less importance and need only to be indicated. He concludes Ep. CXXXVII to Volusianus with a greeting from Possidius who is evidently visiting him, and in the De Civitate Dei XXII viii he speaks of a cure supposed to have been effected by a relic which the bishop of Calama had brought to that city.

His peculiar fitness for his task.

Because of this prolonged and intimate friendship. Possidius was peculiarly fitted for the task he undertook. He had observed Augustine's daily life continuously for at least five years. He had seen him in the various phases of his work as teacher and administrator: instructing the people or the clergy or managing the funds of the church, or caring for the poor and the widows or judging the disputes of his parishioners. |19 

He had seen him faithful in his secular responsibilities, yet escaping them whenever possible and eagerly turning his attention to spiritual matters. He knew his habits of dress and food and had shared in his strict monastic asceticism. Later, himself a bishop, Possidius had seen Augustine as a leader among his fellow-bishops at the councils and as the Church's ablest defender against heresies. He was constantly in touch with his great master and friend and at no time throughout the thirty-eight or thirty-nine years of their acquaintance did anything occur to weaken their attachment. With the exception of the first four chapters of the Vita, which deal briefly with the period before their acquaintance, the account he gives is based entirely on his own observation—things he had himself witnessed and experienced.

His reliability.

As a result we have a plain biography of fact, not of fiction. Possidius does not recount mere gossip or hearsay. Nowhere throughout the Vita do phrases occur indicating second-hand information. One thing that must immediately commend it as worthy of belief is the absence of such miraculous tales as abound in Paulinus's Vita Ambrosii. Even Augustine was not free from this credulity, as may be seen in the list of remarkable cures related toward the end of the De Civitate Dei. Possidius, however, was not given to recounting marvelous stories. Apart from a somewhat general reference to "certain energumens" from whom "demons departed by reason of Augustine's intercession in prayer," he relates, without affectation or extravagance, only one specific miracle performed by Augustine—the cure of a sick man by the laying on of hands. Moreover, wherever Possidius's statements can be checked by the writings of Augustine or the Acts of Councils, they are always fully corroborated.48 To this there is no exception.49 Yet in one respect he is careless: he does not |20 always mention the sources of his few non-biblical quotations, but is apt to refer to the writers as cuiusdam sapientis or quidam poeta.

His appreciation of Augustine.

Though he only partly realized Augustine's true greatness and his increasing importance to the Church, he did recognize in him a devout Christian, a profound and eager student, a devoted and watchful shepherd, a mighty opponent of heretics and a daily example in his domestic life. He sees the present and local greatness, but has less conception of the lasting and widening influence which a mind and personality like Augustine's were destined to exert for ages to come. He sees that Augustine's arguments and reasoning have established the faith and brought peace to the Church, but that centuries later theologians and philosophers should still base many of their doctrines upon the writings of his friend is far outside the range of his imagination; for his nature, like his style, was essentially prosaic. Yet he did believe that posterity ought not to forget Augustine, and therefore wrote the Vita and compiled the Indiculus,50 a catalogue of Augustine's works, to help those who would keep his memory alive.

The Vita, though not a regular chronological narrative, falls naturally into four parts: 

I-V Introductory

VI-XVIII Activities against heresies

XIX-XXVII Daily life at home and in the church

XXVIII-XXXI Last days and death. 

In this arrangement the Vita closely resembles the literary form which had become traditional in the Alexandrian |21 biography and which is best illustrated in the Lives of Suetonius.51 Possidius's acquaintance with this literary form evidently came not directly from classical sources but through his knowledge of the Lives of former Christian biographers.52 Chief among these was undoubtedly Jerome, who acknowledges his indebtedness to Suetonius.53 This form of biography lays principal stress on personal traits. Hence while Augustine's own writings are indispensable in forming an estimate of his far-reaching powers as a theologian, philosopher and preacher, were it not for the intimate revelations of every-day life presented by Possidius, our picture of his personality would be incomplete.

Date of composition of the Vita.

The date generally given for the composition of the Vita is 432. From Possidius's words it is clear that it must have been written after July 431, when the siege of Hippo was abandoned by the Vandals, for he says he was in Hippo during the whole time of the siege.54 Furthermore, his use of quondam in the same chapter (quondam Bonifacius) seems to presuppose the death of Boniface, which occurred about 432. The terminus ad quem is the destruction of Carthage in 439, for Possidius states that when he wrote Carthage still remained uncaptured.55 While the probabilities favor 432 or soon after as the date of the composition of the Vita, the evidence for this is not complete and the nearest certain approximation attainable is 432-439. No evidence derived from the date of the burning of Hippo, which is unknown, or from the presumed escape of the church library from the conflagration can be deduced to help in fixing the date of the Vita more closely. The Indiculus must, of course, have been made up from the books in the library at Hippo and might very |22 probably have been compiled during the siege in 431 and later affixed to the Vita.


The Vita, as already suggested, is a plain recital of facts and incidents which give a clear insight into Augustine's daily life in public and private, based on the writer's personal and intimate knowledge. That Possidius was a man of moderate education appears readily. His style is wholly unadorned. It is the work of a plain man and untrained writer. This appears immediately in the striking contrast between the style of Possidius and that of the letter of Augustine, wonderful both in thought and style, which he embodies in Chapter XXX. The letter reads so smoothly and the argument is so clearly expressed that the scribes found little trouble in understanding it. This contrast with the diction of Possidius is further brought out by the very noticeable decrease in the variations and difficulties which this letter presents in all the MSS. The style of Possidius also differs radically from that of Augustine in that it lacks vivacity, versatility and copiousness. The form is somewhat stiff and the expression, while always marked by candor and often by naive beauty, frequently lacks fluency. The sentences are frequently abrupt and loosely connected. They are bald, unrhetorical and often wanting in animation. While his style in some degree resembles that of Suetonius this is evidently due to the example of Christian biography and not to the direct influence of Suetonius, as there appears to be no evidence that Possidius had any acquaintance with his writings. Possidius is both naive and commonplace in his manner. His sentences show neither balance nor finish and are sometimes marred by awkward parenthetical statements or curious doubling of expression. Except in the Preface, no serious attempt at literary finish is made. There is no philosophizing or play of the imagination; neither is there any padding or moralizing. Though the sentences are not long and involved, yet they are frequently awkward and the thought is not always clearly expressed. It is a simple matter-of-fact |23 account without embellishment, and is not weighed down with a mass of fable and fiction. Possidius shows self-restraint and modesty, with a touching sincerity and devotion to his leader. The work abounds in biblical references and quotations which are apt and reveal a considerable acquaintance with the Scriptures.56 Outside the Scriptures he quotes only three books, the Vita Ambrosii of Paulinus, the De Mortalitate of Cyprian and the Confessiones of Augustine—a very limited circle—and two or three unidentified commonplaces. With the Confessiones he was quite familiar. He quotes no secular writer. His one aim was to reveal Augustine as man and bishop in his daily life, work and character. Of this he has given a faithful, if incomplete picture, one of absorbing interest and at times of unaffected beauty.

His Latinity is that of his own time, as used by a man of only fair ability and education. His vocabulary, arrangement and style are thus restricted by his own limitations. It is unrhetorical narrative Latin of the fifth century. Characteristics of still later Latin also begin to appear.


The text of this edition of the Vita is based on a collation of ten of the earlier MSS., five from France and five from Italy, in photostatic copy. Of these, four of the latter and at least one of the former have been examined for previous editions. A description of each of these ten MSS. follows:57 

A     Bibliothèque de Chartres 112. Membraneus. 125ff. 220 x 170 millim., saec. IX-X. 1. S. Augustini Vita scripta a Possidio episcopo.58 |24

As one of the earliest copies giving the complete text with fewer and less serious errors than any other, it is clearly the best of the ten MSS. It is carefully written in an excellent hand and presents only occasional errors. The observable errors in A are confined to 35 instances of haplography, its characteristic fault, 25 erroneous substitution of single letters, perhaps 5 impossible readings, and some easily detected and insignificant other slips here and there. They are all noted in the apparatus criticus.59 This MS. seems to be quoted once, but inaccurately, by the Benedictine editors under |25 the name Carnotensis, yet it nowhere appears in the list of MSS. which they have consulted.60

B      Vatican, Codex Reginae Sueciae 1025. Membraneus, foliorum 211 (om,273 x 0,222), paginis bipartitis exaratus saec. XI. 8. (Fol. 137v-156v) Vita S. Augustini ep. conscripta a Possidio ep. = BHL. 785, 786. This MS. is complete and in general agrees with A, though it contains numerous errors and occasional readings taken from the second or variant group of MSS. Omissions and corrections are frequent. It is one of the MSS. used by Salinas.

C      Vatican, Codex Reginae Sueciae 541. Membraneus, foliorum 179, signata olim I—XX/IX—I (om,378 x 0,274), paginis, bipartitis exaratus variis manibus saec. XII. 63. (Fol. 158-166) Vita S. Augustini ep. = BHL. 785. The main representative of the second or variant group. It is neatly written and errors are rather less numerous than in B. However it substitutes not a few readings of its own which are not found in the other MSS. The text is complete. Also used by Salinas. D Bibliothèque Nationale, Codex signatus num. 2076. Olim coenobii Dervensis, deinde Petri Pithoei, deinde Thuaneus, deinde Colbertinus 1237, postea Regius C. 3775.3.3. Foliorum 144, med. (om,285 x 0,23), columnis binis exaratus saec. X. 3. (Fol. 1o6r-130) Vita beati Augustini a beatissimo Possidio edita Calamensi episcopo. In close agreement with C. There are many corrections, usually to the readings peculiar to C. It is complete.

E      Bibliothèque Nationale, Codex signatus num. 13220. Olim Francisci de Harlay archiepiscopi Rotomagensis, deinde coenobii sancti Martialis Lemovicensis, postea SanGerm., Harlay 369. Foliorum 211, min. (fere om,175 x 0,44), lineis plenis, exaratus diversis manibus saec. X. |26  9. (Fol. 96v-134v) Vita Sancti Augustini episcopi Hipponensis, a beato Possidio edita Calamensi episcopo. Very carefully written. The few errors are generally corrected. It contains many interlinear explanatory words entered in a later hand above the corresponding word in the text. The conclusion of the Vita is missing. Though this MS. was once at St. Germain, it cannot be the MS. quoted by the Benedictine editors as Germanensis, for the readings do not agree. F Bibliothèque Nationale, Codex signatus num. 11748. Olim sancti Mauri Fossatensis 38, deinde San-Germ., prius 1060, recentius 487. Foliorum 155, med. (om,36 x 0,27), columnis binis, exaratus saec. X. 9. (Fol. 20v-35v) Vita beati Augustini.

Very inaccurate in case endings. The text is complete. It is quoted in the Benedictine edition under the name Fossatensis and is called vetustissimus.61 

G      Bibliothèque Nationale, Codex signatus num. 10863. Olim coenobii "Luxovinensis" (fol. 1), deinde Suppl. lat. 1445. Foliorum 99, min. (0m,21 x 0,14), lineis plenis, exaratus saec. IX. 1. (Fol. 24-52) Vita sancti Augustini auctore Possidio.

Likewise inaccurate in case endings. The first nine and a half chapters are missing and a portion of Augustine's letter is omitted.62

H      Vatican, Codex 1190 (olim 2171). Membraneus, foliorum A et sign. 1-179, 181-264 (om,38o x 0,282), paginis bipartitis exaratus variis manibus saec. XII. 36. (Fol. 88v-97) Acta S. Augustini ep. = BHL. 785. Fragmentary. Used by Salinas.

J      Vatican, Codex 1191. Membraneus, foliorum 205 (om,430 x 0,308), paginis bipartitis exaratus saec. XII extr. |27 70. (Fol. 198-203v) Vita S. Augustini ep. edita a Possidio ep. — BHL. 785. Still more fragmentary. Used by Salinas. K Bibliotheca Vallicellana, Tomus I. Membraneus, foliorum A et sign. 1-336 (om,565 x 0,360), paginis bipartitis exaratus saec. XI/XII. 92. (Fol. 250-254v) Natale S. Augustini ep. — BHL. 785.

Closely related to H. Fragmentary. It also breaks off abruptly in Chapter XXIV. 

LMNOP      Five MSS. used by the Benedictine editors: duo Floriacenses, Germanensis, Vedastinus, Cisterciensis. Q Brussels, Bollandist Museum, P.MS 5.

Belongs to the AB group, being related very closely to B. The order of the MSS. E-K represents no particular classification, except that G-K are more or less fragmentary. The readings from the MSS. L-Q, as given in the Benedictine edition and the Acta Sanctorum, are indicated in the apparatus criticus, though the former are very few and generally unimportant. However, when the Benedictine editors quote their MSS. as codex unus or codex alter, as they usually do, thereby making it impossible to identify the MS. from which the variant is taken, the reading has been omitted. The variants given from Q are important.

In addition to the manuscripts enumerated and described above, readings in crucial places from seventeen manuscripts in the Bibliothèque Nationale were obtained through the courtesy of M. Omont, Conservateur des Manuscrits. The readings thus obtained closely confirm the consensus of the other manuscripts used as against the readings introduced by previous editors. They do not, however, aid in determining more clearly the relative value of the body of manuscripts used as the basis for this edition. These seventeen manuscripts are marked in the general list of manuscripts on page 30 by the letters abcdefghijklmnopqr.

In determining the relative value of the various MSS. one fact must be kept in mind, namely that the texts of the lives |28 of saints did not receive the same consideration as those of classical writers. Lives of saints were very common and were freely multiplied. Scribes were less careful with them than with either the Scriptures or classical writings for which a greater amount of regard was felt; for the former because of their inspired nature and for the latter because of their rarity and antiquity. Hence there was less restraint in copying the texts of these Lives. Accordingly there are more individual differences in such MSS., and the family groups are not as clearly defined. Moreover since the MSS. of any one Life are so much more numerous than for most classical texts—in the present case probably two hundred or more— definite relationship is clearly more difficult to establish on the basis of only a part of the extant MSS. of a given Life.

Thus in the case of the ten MSS. of the Vita Augustini examined for this edition, each MS. is in some degree independent of the others. Under such conditions, therefore, the choice of the best MS. or group of MSS., may be made by a process of elimination. In a comparison of the ten MSS. with a view to this choice GHJK may be omitted as they are quite fragmentary. Of the other six MSS. the crucial readings of A and B frequently agree in opposition to all the others, thus showing a certain relationship between these two. For instance in the Praefatio AB read videar fraudare, whereas CDFHK read fraudare videar; AB autem, CDEFHK enim. In Chapter I A and B both read carthaginensi which is, of course, an error for tagastensi. In this same chapter AB read assistens as against astans in CDEFHJK. Other instances of this agreement between A and B may easily be found in the apparatus criticus.

C, on the other hand, contains many readings found in none of the other nine MSS., except only in the corrections made in D by a second hand. Thus in Chapter VIII for the reading sed consacerdos found in the other MSS. CD* have quam consacerdos; in Chapter IX for Quae cum audissent . . . comperta, CD* have quae vir beatus comperta; at the end of Chapter XV while the other MSS. vary between vivat, vivit |29 and vitat, CD* alone agree on victitat; in Chapter XIX CD* read quanto magis instead of nedum or necdum found in the other MSS. However C also contains variant readings which are found in other MSS. and which seem to indicate that C belongs to a different family than AB. MSS. E and F agree sometimes with AB and sometimes with C. As their readings are found in AB or C they may be disregarded as not outstanding representatives of either group. The final choice, therefore, as to the best available source for the original text among these ten MSS. lies between AB and C. A is more free from errors than any of the other nine MSS. and is also one of the earliest. Moreover since C contains many readings not found in the other MSS. it cannot be regarded as a pure text, for if it were, it is highly improbable that none of the other nine MSS., except only D*, should contain any trace whatsoever of these readings, many of which differ radically from the readings in the other MSS.63 The reading of CD* in Chapter XIX cited above is probably an alteration to the Vulgate reading. Such alterations are not infrequent in C and are a further illustration of the liberties which the writer of C took with the text. For these reasons the MSS. AB, of which A is the better representative,64 seem to furnish a text which resembles the archetype more closely than any of the other MSS. CDEFGHJK. Accordingly A has been adopted as the main basis of the text and followed rather closely. Its variant readings are fully noted in the apparatus criticus.

A partial list of MSS. of the Vita, as complete as could be made from available sources, is herewith given. |30 

List of Manuscripts






Heiligenkreuz: Monastery,




Lilienfeld: Monastery.




Melk: Monastery.




Vienna: Hofbibl.


226-255v (256-265v Ind) 65 


Vienna: Hofbibl.





Brussels: Bibl. Reg.


163v-166 (fr)


Brussels: Bibl. Reg.




Brussels: Bibl. Reg.

2342-51 (1)



Brussels: Bibl. Reg.


98v-101 (fr)


Brussels: Bibl. Reg.


90-97v (fr)


Brussels: Bibl. Reg.




Brussels: Bibl. Reg.




Brussels: Bibl. Reg.




Brussels: Bibl. Reg.

D.Phil. 324, 327(1) 

45-64 (Ind)


Brussels: Bibl. Reg.

D. Phil. 4627



Brussels: Bibl. Reg.

D. Phil. 8391

79-93v (93v-94 Ind)


Mons: Bibl. Pub.

26, 210, 8402



Namur: Bibl. Pub.


(3.75 f.)



Angers: Bibl. d'Angers

802 (718)

50-68 (68v-73v Ind)


Angers: Bibl. d'Angers

806 (722)



Auxerre: Bibl, d'Auxerre

28 (28)



Cambrai Bibl. de Cambrai

864 (767 II)

188-202 (202v-203v Ind)


Cambrai: Bibl. de Cambrai

855 (760)

101-107v, 113-125 (fr)


Chalons-sur-Marne Bibl. de Chalons-sur-Marne

70 (78)




Chartres: Bibl. de Chartres

112 (60)

1-42v (42v-61 Ind)


Chartres: Bibl. de Chartres 500 (190)

162-167v (fr)


Chartres: Bibl. de Chartres 501 (192)

141v-152 (fr)


Dijon: Bibl. de Dijon

638-642 (383) Tom 3l-37 (fr)


Douai: Bibl. de Douai

151 Tom II

98-99v (fr)


Douai: Bibl. de Douai


113v-116v (fr)


Douai: Bibl. de Douai


52v-72 (72-73 Ind)


Grenoble: Bibl. de Grenoble


92v-109 (109v-113v Ind)


Le Mans: Bibl. du Mans


129-138 (138-140 Ind)


Paris: Bibl. de St. Genevieve 694

1-8 (fr)


Paris: Bibl. de St. Genevieve 2613

75 (fr)


Paris: Bibl. de Mazarine

1714 (570)




Paris: Bibl. Nat.


106v-130 (130-137v Ind)


Paris: Bibl. Nat.


53-54 (fr)



Paris: Bibl. Nat.


96-102v (fr)



Paris: Bibl. Nat.





Paris: Bibl. Nat


120-136v (136v-137v Ind)XIV


Paris: Bibl. Nat.


177-187v (om. ep.)



Paris: Bibl. Nat.


6-21 (21-24 Ind)

XII   |31


Paris: Bibl. Nat.


214-216v (fr)



Paris: Bibl. Nat.


63-79 (79-84v Ind)



Paris: Babl. Nat.


66v-68v, 77-77v, 69-73



Paris: Bibl. Nat.


35-49v (ora. praef.)



Paris: Bibl. Nat.


24-52 (ff. missing)



Paris: Bibl. Nat.


20v-32 (32-35v Ind)



Paris: Bibl. Nat.




Paris: Bibl. Nat.


122v-128v (fr)



Paris: Bibl. Nat.





Paris: Bibl. Nat.


59-60v 282-287v



Paris: Bibl. Nat.





Paris: Bibl. Nat





Paris: Bibl. Nat.





Paris: Bibl. Nat.





Paris: Bibl. Nat.




Paris: Bibl. Nat.


231-232v (fr)


Paris: Bibl. Nat.


159-160 (fr)


Paris: Bibl. Nat.

N. A. 1595

136v-137v (fr)



Paris: Bibl. Nat.

N. A. 2178



Paris: Bibl. Nat.

N. A. 2179

279v-286 (fr)


Paris: Bibl. Nat

N. A. 2261



Rouen: Bibl. Pub.

1388 (U32)

105-106 (fr)


Rouen: Bibl. Pub.

1412 (A40)

88v-90 (fr)



Bamberg: K. Oeffent. Bibl.




Berlin: Kgl. Bibl.




Erlangen: K. Univ. Bibl.


21 (fr)


Leipzig: Stadtbibl.




Munich: Kgl. Bibl.




Munich: Kgl. Bibl.




Munich: Kgl. Bibl.




Munich: Kgl. Bibl.


68-180 (?)


Munster: Univ. Bibl.

144 (272)



Munster: Univ. Bibl.

218 (348)



Trier: Stadtbibl.




Great Britain

Dublin: Trinity College




Durham: Cathedral

B IV 14

219-235v (Ind)


London: Brit. Mus.

15621, Addit of 1845



London: Brit. Mus.

16161, Addit. of 1846

144- ?


London: Brit. Mus.

35110, Addit of 1899

9v-28 (25-29v Ind)



Milan: Bibl. Ambros.

B 33 Inf.

6v-20 (20-23 Ind)


Milan: Bibl. Ambros.

B 55 Inf.



Milan: Bibl. Ambros.

D 22 Inf.



Milan: Bibl. Ambros.

H 224 Inf.



Milan: Bibl. Ambros.

P 113 Sup.

100-113v (fr)


Monte Cassino



XI  |32

Naples: Bibl. Nat.

XV AA15 Tom III 

205-205v, 209-209v (fr)


Rome: Bibl. Angelica


240-266 (Ind)


Rome: Lateran




Rome: Sanctae Mariae Maioris


108-114 (fr)



Rome: Bibl. Vallicellana

Tom 1

250-254v (fr)


Rome: Bibl. Vallicellana


287v-289v (fr)


Rome: Vatican




Rome: Vatican


S8v-97 (fr)



Rome: Vatican


198-203v (fr)


Rome: Vatican


350-351v (fr)


Rome: Vatican

Pal. 225

32-66v (Ind)



Rome: Vatican

Cod. Reg. Sueciae 541




Rome: Vatican

Cod. Reg. Sueciae 1025

137v-150v (150v-186v Ind)



St. Gall: Stiftsbibl.


50-178 (1-48 Ind)


St. Gall: Stiftsbibl.


451-498 (498- ? Ind)


Bern: Stadtbibl.


6v (praef, only)


Engelberg: Benedictine Monastery


(62v-66 Ind)


[Note to the online edition: note 66 should appear against one of these mss.]


The earlier editions of the Vita Augustini in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were not printed separately but were regularly included in volumes containing works of Augustine. They are catalogued in part in the Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina 785 and in the British Museum Catalogue under Possidius. The most important older edition not printed separately but included with the works of Augustine is in the Benedictine edition printed at Paris, 1679-1700.67

It was based on previous editions and, if we may judge from the readings given, on a very |33 cursory examination of six MSS., FLMNOP. It appears to have made but few alterations in the traditional printed text. Some criticism of the Benedictine and earlier editions is found in the edition by Salinas, printed at Rome in 1731, pp. V-VIII. 68

This edition by Salinas is the first separate edition of the Vita. It is based on an examination of certain earlier editions, chiefly the Benedictine, and MSS. BCHJ and Vatican MS. 1188 69 at first hand. The edition is divided into two parts, the first containing the text of the Vita with critical and explanatory notes and the second a dissertation by Salinas De Vita et Rebus Gestis S. Possidii. His scanty citations of readings from the small group of MSS. he used, as tested by an examination of photostatic copies, are generally accurate, but several errors occur. He gives no classification or estimate of their relative value, though he seems to have a preference for C. His text, on the whole, differs very little from that of the Benedictine edition. His choice or change of readings, when explained at all, is based not on manuscript evidence, but rather on extraneous suggestions, generally of a historical nature.

The explanatory notes in the edition of Salinas are not very frequent. Nevertheless they give full and even superfluous information, consisting largely of quotations from Augustine, the Acts of Councils and other illustrations from church history. The main fault of the notes is that they are often burdened with unnecessary matter and are not proportioned to the importance of the subject explained. Salinas also added the chapter headings, which do not appear in the earlier editions. These have been retained in the present edition as providing convenient summaries of each chapter. |34 

The work of Salinas, however, has a distinct value. Apart from the earlier Benedictine edition, it is the first edition which attempts to be critical. Its general review of the text, though not made by scientific method, represents a certain advance over anything done before, and the information in the notes is usually reliable.

There are three other editions which deserve brief notice. The Migne edition (1865) is merely a reprint of the Benedictine edition with a comparison of Salinas and the addition of his critical notes. The text in the Acta Sanctorum (Paris, 1866) is a reprint of the text of Salinas with variant readings from Q. There is also an edition by Hurter in Sanctorum Patrum Opuscula Selecta, Innsbruck 1895. The source of the text is not evident, as it agrees neither with the Benedictine nor Salinas edition, but seems to result from a capricious alteration of both. It abounds in errors of omission, transpositions and even has insertions which appear nowhere else, either in the ten MSS. used or in the editions. However it contains some valuable comments and a few selections from the critical notes of Salinas.

The text.

The textus receptus evidently dates back to the early editions, at least to the Lou vain edition of 1564. Many liberties have been taken in altering the text, chiefly to fit the rules of classical grammar or to make it read more smoothly. Instances are the substitution of the accusative for the ablative, in ipsas montium silvas et cavernas petrarum et speluncas confugientes: XXVIII; the subjunctive for the indicative, praedicaret: IX ; the imperfect for the pluperfect subjunctive, denegaret: XIV; a change to a more suitable conjunction, sed for et: XIV; petitus iret for petitum ire: XXVII, to avoid an abrupt change of construction; astantem for assistentem: XXVII, for no reason at all apparently; the unnecessary insertion of debeo: Praef., to complete the sentence; the omission of nam and insertion of autem: XXXI, and the substitution of the ablative absolute for the accusative, eisque compertis for eaque |35 comperta: IX, because the parenthetical remarks were somewhat obscured; oppropinquaret for propinquaret: IV, and elevata for levata: V; the substitution of spectaret for speraret: IV, evidently because the common meaning of spero did not fit; factus ergo for factusque: V; iuste for intuit; XIII; latebras for latera: XV; probata for prolata: XVII; suos for suis: XXV; inobediensve for inobediensque: XXVIII; the insertion of quod after credo: XV; the addition, by Salinas, of conversus ad Deum: II, and verbum Dei: V; the numerous substitutions of its for his which appears consistently in all the MSS.70 In some of these instances the readings of the editions perhaps may find support in MSS. not available for this edition, but the changes are altogether too numerous and too nice to be anything but an attempt at wholesale text-improvement. This text was unquestioningly adopted by later editions, without so much as an indication of the manuscript readings at many such places. Nevertheless, despite the alterations made by editors, the main body of the text is clear in all the manuscripts consulted, and the area of disputable readings, significant or insignificant, is only about eight hundred words out of a total of over twelve thousand.

In basing the text on AB, the best group of the MSS. A-K, it becomes clear that while there are no difficulties in the form of lacunae or corrupt passages of extended length, there are many readings, principally of individual words, which need exact determination. All these readings have been minutely examined and tested by the weight of the manuscript evidence available and a comparison of the usage of Possidius in other instances. Such alterations in the text as have been made without manuscript authority in previous editions have been |36 largely subjective and have tended to obscure the language and style of Possidius. The purpose of this edition is to present a revision of previous editions in the light of fuller evidence from a larger number of MSS. and to arrive at a text which reproduces as nearly as possible what Possidius wrote, rather than what he should have written. While the result is a text written in a manner somewhat more uncouth, abrupt and awkward than is found in the editions where the text abounds in smooth corrections of editors, it is nevertheless evidently the truer text. |37 



Chartres 112.


Vatican 1025.


Vatican 541.


Paris 2076.


Paris 13220.


Paris 11748.


Paris 10863.


Vatican 1190.


Vatican 1191.


Vallicellana I.


Floriacensis I


Floriacensis II



Benedictine MSS.






P. MS 5 (in Acta Sanctorum)


17 supplementary MSS., see page 30.








Salinas, Benedictine, Migne.



Second hand or change by first hand.

Words followed by a single square bracket are extracts from the text adopted in this edition.

Readings Noted in the Apparatus Criticus. 

The readings noted are the variant readings, with no citations from the MSS. supporting the text, except where there is considerable confusion in the MSS. and where readings of the supplementary MSS. a-r are given.

1. 1 Prosper, in his Chronicon, states that Augustine died August 28, 430; Possidius says it was in the third month of the siege of Hippo, and also that he died at the age of seventy-six. Augustine himself gives the day of his birth: Idibus Novembris mihi natalis dies erat: De Beata Vita i 6.

2. 2 Religionis verissimae semina mihi a pueritia salubriter insita: De Duabus Animabus i 1.

3. 3 Conf. III xi 19.

4. 4 Conf. III xi 19. 

5. 5 Conf. IX x 26. 

6. 6 Conf. IX ix-x.

7. 7 De Beata Vita i 6 and Conf. IX xi 27.

8. 8 Ep. CCXI 4.

9. 9 Vita XXVI.

10. 10 Bollandistes, Vies des Saints V 306. 

11. 11 Conf. IX vi 14.

12. 12 Contra Academicos I i 4; De Beata Vita i 6; Be Ordine I ii 5.

13. 13 Nebridius, another close friend, does not seem to have been at Cassiciacum, though associated with Augustine both in Carthage and Milan. He died a Christian not long after Augustine's baptism (Conf. IX iii 6).

14. 14 Severus, Evodius, Profuturus and Urbanus. See also Chap. XI, note 1.

15. 15 Vita XXII-XXVI. 

16. 16 Sermm. CCCLV, CCCLVI. 

17. 17 Vita XI.

18. 18 Sermm. CCCLV and CCCLVI. 

19. 19 Ep. CCXI.

20. 20 His name, Possidius, is not to be confounded with Possidonius, a bishop who appears at some of the councils and who, in conjunction with Possidius, signed the letter addressed by the Council of Milevum to Pope Innocent I (Ep. CLXXVI). Manuscript evidence proves that Possidius, not Possidonius, is the name of Augustine's biographer.

21. 21 Prosper, Chronicon, PL 51, 597 (PL = Patrologia Latina).

22. 22 Vita V.

23. 23 Prosper, Chronicon, PL 51, 597.

24. 24 Vita XXXI.

25. 25 Mansi III 794.

26. 26 Cod. Theod. XVI 5, 38.

27. 27 Vita XII; Contra Cresconium III xlvi 50; Ep. CV 4. 

28. 28 Mansi III 806. 

29. 29 Cod. Theod. XVI 5, 41. 

30. 30 Ep. XCI 8.

31. 31 Cod. Theod. XVI 10, 19.

32. 32 Compare the words of Augustine: cum ex ipso audieritis quant tristis eum causa compulerit: Ep. XCV 1.

33. 33 Nam ego rescripseram, cum adhuc nobiscum esset, neque navigasset sanctus frater et coepiscopus meus Possidius. Has autem quas met causa illi dignatus es reddere, accept vi kal. April, post menses ferme octo, quam scripseram: Ep. CIV 1.

34. 34 More severely, no doubt, than they had already been punished by the edict of Honorius in the preceding November.

35. 35 Mansi III 810. There seems to be some confusion as to this date. In the Acts of the Councils it is given as Honorii VIII et Theodosii IV. However, to agree with the Fasti Consulares (ed. W. Liebenam, pp. 41-42) it ought to read Honorii VIII et Theodosii III, and this could apply to either 409 or 410. Accordingly 410 has been adopted as being the more probable. This date is also given in the margin of Mansi's edition, though 409 is given in the index.

36. 36 Cod. Theod. XVI 5, 47.

37. 37 Cod. Theod. XVI 5, 51,

38. 38 Mansi IV 8.

39. 39 Mansi IV 335.

40. 40 Ep. CLXXVI.

41. 41 Ep. CLXXVII.

42. 42 De Gestis cum Emerito PL 43, 697; Vita XIV. 

43. 43 Vita XXVIII.

44. 44 Prosper, Chronic on, PL 51, 597.

45. 45 Ep. CCXLV. The date of this letter is uncertain. 

46. 46 Vita XV, XXII.

47. 47 Ep. XCV.

48. 48 Instances will be found in the Notes.

49. 49 In view of these facts it is a surprise to come upon such a statement as the following: "No Vandal writer ever arose to give a second account of the war, and there is much in the statements of Victor and Possidius to show the need of caution in accepting their facts as literally true" (L. R. Holme, The Extinction of Christian Churches in North Africa, p. 88). This writer presents no evidence whatsoever to sustain his disparagement of Possidius, though he does so in the case of Victor Vitensis, whose unrestrained statements must, of course, be accepted with reserve. 

50. 50 See Chapter XVIII, note 6.

51. 51 Leo, F., Die Griechische-Römische Biographie, pp. 11-16.

52. 52 See his Praefatio, p. 38.

53. 53 Roth, C. L., Suetonius, p. 287.

54. 54 quam urbem ferme quatuordecim mensibus conclusam obsederunt . . . in eademque omni eius obsidionis tempore fuimus: Vita XXVIII. 

55. 55 Vita XXVIII.

56. 56 Some of these are direct quotations from the Vulgate; others are taken from some pre-Vulgate versions. Many of them are apparently loose quotations from memory.

57. 57 With the exception of A, the descriptions of the MSS. are taken from the Bollandist Catalogus Codicum Hagiographicorum Latinorum for the Vatican and for the Bibliothèque Nationale.

58. 58 We have no means of determining what exact title, if any, was given by Possidius to his Life of Augustine. The titles, as given in the ten MSS. consulted, vary greatly. The one most common element in them is the initial Sancti Augustini Vita, followed by some sort of reference to Possidius as the author, who is characterized as bishop in every instance but one where his name appears. I have taken as a provisional title Sancti Augustini Vila scripta a Possidio Episcopo, the heading given in A.

In all the MSS. consulted the body of the text is continuous, even in the fragmentary MSS., without any division into chapters, and consequently without any chapter titles. In a few cases there are consecutive Roman numerals entered at the side of the text at. irregular intervals, but not continuing beyond the earlier part of the text. It is of course possible that these may have been intended by one or another scribe to indicate chapter divisions, but as they do not agree with each other nor extend through the body of the text nor correspond to the natural literary divisions, they may be disregarded as insignificant.

59. 59 Some examples of these faults are altusque for alitusque Chapter I, manente for manentes and the omission of ac perficere IX, circelliones for circumcelliones X, episcopum for episcopi cum XIII, the omission of loquacitate . . . collatione XVII, the omission of impium . . . ministerium and quando . , . necessarium XXX 7; cogitandi atque orandi for cogitanti atque aranti III, multum . . . aurarium for mulctam . . . aurariam and commendatio for condemnatio XII, bibebant for vivebant XV, sectae for rectae XVIII, reticebantur for recitabantur XXIV, lucis for locis, evolatos for evolutos, fama contubescerent for fame contabescerent and regionum for regiorum XXVIII, absit for obsit XXX 10; intellexit for intercessit XII, heresi se for recessisse XVII, memorare for mentor erat XXIII, orantibus for videntibus XXVII, ad locum uncti for ad loca munita XXX 2.

60. 60 Salinas p. 65, Migne 32, 49 note 2.

61. 61 Migne 32, 55 note 6.

62. 62 The MSS. EFG on the whole agree rather with CD than with AB, though somewhat unsteadily.

63. 63 These variants in C are so numerous that they could not all be included in the apparatus criticus. They are therefore given only when they have some direct bearing on readings in other MSS.

64. 64 The choice of A in preference to B as the purer representative of the AB family follows naturally after a comparison of the two MSS. Evidence, if necessary, may be found in the apparatus criticus.

65. 65 Ind = Indiculus, fr -= fragmentary.

66. 66 This is one of the MSS. used by Salinas. However it is not the Vita proper, but consists in extracts from the Vita with later additions. It is the form of the Vita described as follows under BHL 792: VITA ET TRANSLATIONES. Inc. Bb. Augustinus ex provincia Africae civitate Thagastensi honestis et christianis parentibus progenitus fuit. Des. Iure igitur in apostolica est collocatus ecclesia quia pro apostolica... 

67. 67 This edition was reprinted at Antwerp 1700-1703. Venice 1729-1734, Bassano 1807, Paris 1836-1839 and by Migne, Petit-Montrouge 1841-1849 and again at Paris in 1865 as part of the Patrologia Latina.

68. 68 S. Aurelii Augustini Hipponesis Episcopi Vita auctore S. Possidio Calamensi Episcopo . . . opera et studio D. Joannis Salinas, Romae 1731. A copy of this rare book was procured for the Library of Princeton University by the late Director Jesse Benedict Carter of the American Academy at Rome.

69. 69 See note 66, p. 32.

70. 70 Compare, for example, the unanimous evidence of the MSS. as opposed to the editions on p. 44. Further instances of this sort of text correction where the evidence of the MSS. is unanimously opposed to the editions, are recorded in the apparatus criticus. In some other cases when the MSS. vary, the editions nevetheless present some individual readings unsupported by any of the MSS.

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This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2008. This file and all material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.  The Latin text and apparatus have been omitted, but can be found at

Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts