Biography of San Agustín de Hipona (354-430)

San Agustín.

Called by some the first modern man and the last old wise, San Agustín was the genius of noted a new dimension of man: the intimacy, where he/she discovers God. Two notes characterize its existence: its authenticity in - consistent with their convictions in every moment of his life - work, and his passionate love for the truth.

Life and works.

Theologian and philosopher, father of the Latin Church; Holy. Born in Tagaste (in Algeria, now Souk-Ahras) (Patricio) pagan father and Christian mother (Monica). He/She studied at Tagaste, and Carthage, in environment dominated by classical culture and where the Latin language was common heritage of educated sectors. He/She taught rhetoric at Tagaste, and Carthage, to spend more later to Rome and Milan, where he/she also taught rhetoric. During his stay in Milan (384-387), Agustín matured his conversion to Christianity would embrace after having sought the truth in Manichaeism. The meeting with San Ambrosio de Milán opened the doors to the allegorical interpretation of Scripture and directed him towards the neoplatonic philosophy.

Following the abandonment of the woman that had lived for fourteen years (of which had had a son, Adeodato), and the decision to abandon the Chair of Professor of rhetoric (386), probably received the baptism in the year 387. From this event, he/she intensified his intellectual work. Returned to his land, he/she was ordained a priest the year 391 and appointed Bishop of Hippo (now Annaba, in Algeria). From his chair continued, along with his pastoral activity, its literary and apologetic activity against the Donatists, Manichean and pelagian. He/She died during the siege of Hippo by the Vandals, while already very sick.

Among his most important works should be mentioned: confessions (13 autobiographical books in which San Agustín by moments of his spiritual intimacy); De Trinitate; De civitate Dei (23 books, his work Summit, focused on the philosophy of history). He/She also wrote three dialogues: Beata vita (on virtue and happiness), against academics, ordine. Also: It Soliloquia (about knowledge and immortality); Of inmortalitate animae, De libero arbitrio (on freedom and evil), De vera religione (on faith and belief), Retractationes (about the dangers of pagan philosophy). Its production is preserved almost completely.

Doctrinal aspects.

Knowledge and truth.

What really concerned to Agustín is to achieve wisdom, truth. If retain you epistemological issues is only as preparation to metaphysics and theology. Already at the stage of accession to Manichaeism, it asks for the truth, and not finding it in the doctrine of Mani, wonders, from skepticism, if there are truly reliable, absolute, truths that no one can doubt. To these questions, Agustín noted evidence of some truths: "do you doubt someone that lives, that want, that think? Because if you are in doubt, he/she lives". Based on the existence of truth in our minds, Agustín presupposes a concept of truth: truth is eternal and necessary. Reflecting on itself, the man can be sure at least three things: that it exists, lives and understands. Ruled out the possibility of the human origin of such ideas, comes to the conclusion that only a superior being can deposit in us these eternal and immutable ideas: that being is God. This is way it manifests itself in Agustín the preeminence of the soul in the knowledge process. Agustín postulates, in short, the way of the internalization ("don't go outside, inside man dwells truth") to achieve true knowledge in gradual progression, because the spirit is source of truth. This is what the Augustinian theory of lighting; He/She is not the neoplatonic emanation, (because the soul to contemplate ideas in itself does not contemplate the essence of God), but that it's a natural lighting. With lighting theory, Agustín overrides the Platonic reminiscence.

God and creation.

The primary intention of Agustín is not to demonstrate the existence of God, but rather to communicate the religation of creation, of the human soul in the first place, God. Rather than learn, Agustín seeks and invites to finding God. However, throughout his works appeal to several tests of the existence of God: the soul, in its interiority, see its limitation, its mutability, where the need for a fundamentadora need to be apprehended. God exists also shows it the order and contingency of creation, the existence in our minds of necessary and universal ideas, and the belief among all the people, when not half the depravity. In terms of the essence of God, it is immutable, nothing acquires and nothing to lose. What you say of it always will be underweight and stunted.

Against the neoplatonic emanantismo, Agustín says that the world has been created not by necessity, but freely and nothing. Everything was created only once, therefore all the bodies that existed, that exist and will exist, are in power from the outset; its further development, in time, is due to the active principles (seminal reasons), Agustín takes of the Stoics and which are the engine of evolution, whenever given the proper conditions, at the service of God's plans. On the other hand, the world has not been created at the time, but over time. I.e. are created realities that give sense at the time. Time would be simply awareness of time, as there is for those beings (such as los angeles, for example) that lack of matter and extension.

The soul.

The soul is immaterial and immortal. Made in the image of God, is a reflection of the Trinity in three faculties: memory, understanding and will. Agustín defends the unity of the soul with the body, but does not support is melting. Not the soul is in the body as it captivates or punished, as is it, precisely, who governs, orients and vivifies the body substrate. Regard to the single origin of the soul, sometime defends a sort of Traducianism (worried for the sake of safeguarding the doctrine of original sin), but it seems more leaning towards creationism (creation individually each of the souls).

The moral and good.

Morality is based on the eternal law, which does not escape any created being. The divine law will protect the natural law, and the temporary law, has to be subject to the law of nature, as this is a law divine. Divine law only determines relentlessly physical nature and irrational beings, not man, endowed with free will. To be free, on the fall obligations of perfection. In this context of divine law Agustín explains the problem of evil: things of itself are good, but when they deviate from the order wanted by God, there is evil. Evil must understand it as deprivation, such as relaxation of being. If God tolerates evil, it is so that the man can exercise their freedom. The man reaches its fullness, its happiness only in his encounter with God: "Feciste us ad Te, et inquietum cor nostrum requiescat in Te donec est".

The story and its meaning.

Agustín presents the sense of history in the city of God, which became his best-known work. It's a written motivated by apologetic reasons, since the Romans blamed the breakdown in his empire to Christians. Not Christians, will respond Agustín, but the vices, relaxation and misrule have carried the Empire to decline. Agustín develops in this work a theology of history: two cities, generated respectively by the love of man towards God (civitas dei), and for the love of the man himself (civitas terrena), dispute the land domain, and both seek peace. The earthly city aspires to peace which coincides with the temporal welfare, while the heavenly city aspires to eternal peace that is obtained after the death, thanks to the full possession of God in the beatific vision.

In the development of the story, the contours of the two cities are not perfectly NET: the Church does not match the city of God, since inside it they live good and bad, in the same way that the earthly city is not identified with any particular political party. Agustín recognizes the natural character of civil society and the State. The Church, for its part, has to serve as a mentor of the society and the State, to monitor and guide to men his salvation. The civil authority, if it is steeped in the Christian spirit, can facilitate and promote the eternal city postulated by the divine will. The influence of Agustín, determinant in the fields of the dogmatic, politics and pedagogy, stretches all the philosophy and theology of the middle ages, to the Lutheran reformation and Jansenism contemporary spiritualism.

Musical aspects.

In the early days of the Christian Church, eminent theorists offered objections to the cultivation of music. On the other hand, granted to music a spiritual value of utmost importance so eminent parents as San Basilio, San Jerónimo, San Juan Crisóstomo, and San Agustín. The love of this music had a firm basis, since it was formed in the music theory of ancient Greece, and connoisseur of the dominant aesthetics of that time, conveyed it in his teachings as rhetorical. When I delved into the philosophical studies, he/she conceived of a vast production dedicated to the teaching of the liberal arts that did not conclude, but that there are still some chapters and fragments. A section of such extensive work entitled De Música, whose first part, the only one that ended, trafficking of rhythm in six books. The second part was treated on the melody. In these texts it is observed that San Agustín was a writer inclined to new Platonism and is not even as a Christian author. This aspect highlights Yes in two works that earned him the title of doctor of the Church: comments on the Psalms and confessions.

San Agustín was one of the first musical theoreticians of Latin Antiquity and their influence was considerable until the 16th century. It has been said that, among the fathers of the Church, none as San Agustín examined with a fine sense and feeling deeper the estetico-religioso value of sacred music. He/She wrote in confessions, cried many times when listening to songs and religious hymns, aching is have ceded to the earthly influence that had made him excited about music. However, explicitly stating this "weakness", wrote: "I approve the custom of singing in the temple, since, by the pleasure of the ear, weak souls back to pious feelings".


PATANI, l.: Il pensiero pedagogical di s. Agostino, Bologna, 1967.

DE LUBAC, H.: Agostino e modern theology, Bologna, 1968.

BOYER, C.: Essais anciens et nouveaux sur doctrine it of s. Augustin, Paris, 1972.

HONEGGER, M.: Dictionary of music, Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 1993.

MICHELS, u.: Atlas de la Música, Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1992.

SOPENA IBANEZ, f.: History of music, Madrid: Epesa, 1974.

File Musical, Barcelona: Daimon.