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Nicene and Post Nicene-Fathers, Vol. I:
The Confessions: Chapter XVII

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XVII.—He Continues on the Unhappy Method of Training Youth in Literary Subjects.

27. Bear with me, my God, while I speak a little of those talents Thou hast bestowed upon me, and on what follies I wasted them. For a lesson sufficiently disquieting to my soul was given me, in hope of praise, and fear of shame or stripes, to speak the words of Juno, as she raged and sorrowed that she could not

“Latium bar

From all approaches of the Dardan king,” 176

which I had heard Juno never uttered. Yet were we compelled to stray in the footsteps of these poetic fictions, and to turn that into prose which the poet had said in verse. And his speaking was most applauded in whom, according to the reputation of the persons delineated, the passions of anger and sorrow were most strikingly reproduced, and clothed in the most suitable language. But what is it to me, O my true Life, my God, that my declaiming was applauded above that of many who were my contemporaries and fellow-students? Behold, is not all this smoke and wind? Was there nothing else, too, on which I could exercise my wit and tongue? Thy praise, Lord, Thy praises might have supported the tendrils of my heart by Thy Scriptures; so had it not been dragged away by these empty trifles, a shameful prey of 177 the fowls of the air. For there is more than one way in which men sacrifice to the fallen angels.


Footnotes

53:176

Æneìd, i. 36–75 (Kennedy).

53:177

See note on v. 4, below.


Next: Chapter XVIII

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