Augustine, surrounded by his family and chosen friends, at Cassiciacum conducted regular but informal philosophical seminars or dialogues.
Notes of these seminars, compiled by a secretary, became the basis of the "Dialogues" of Augustine that still exist today.
After his celebrated moral conversion in the garden at Milan in September of the year 386, Augustine needed an unhurried time to think about what had spiritually happened within him.
A few days later Augustine, being ill, took advantage of the autumn holidays and, resigning his teaching position in Milan to go to nearby Cassiciacum, to the country estate of his friend, Verecundus.
He went with Monica, Adeodatus, and some of his friends, relatives and pupils. It was there that he gave himself to the pursuit of true philosophy which, for him, was now not able to be separated from the Christian religion.
The relaxed routine and rural atmosphere of Cassiciacum allowed Augustine the space and companionship he needed in preparing for his forthcoming baptism.
There were memorable philosophical conversations each morning and evening.
There Augustine was intellectually gifted in facilitating the most elevating of discussions from the most simple of conversational topics.
There he advanced the education of his young friends. He achieved this by their having literary readings in common, and by philosophical seminars or dialogues.
These were written down by a secretary. They became the foundation of the written "Dialogues" of Augustine that still exist today.
The favourite topics at these conferences were truth, certainty (Contra Academicos - "Against the Academics"), true happiness in philosophy (De beata vita - "On a Happy Life"), the Providential order of the world and the problem of evil (De ordine - "On Order"), God ("Soliloquies"), and the soul ("On the Immortality of the Soul.")
(Continued on the next page.)