It is necessary to understand the word “concubine” as it was meant and regarded in the culture of Augustine’s time.
In that late Roman imperial, marriage was strictly regulated under Roman law, which was concerned with the control of the rights of citizenship and inheritance.
In that society, marriage was an alliance between families and estates. It was not a romantic affair based on personal preferences.
Marriage was illegal between persons of certain different classes in society, and some groups such as slaves were not allowed to marry at all. An alternate relationship was required, and concubinage was accepted as a respectable solution.
Concubinage was usually a monogamous, stable relationship. As such, it was a union distinguished from a formal marriage only by certain legal restrictions, in addition to the informality of its beginning and the possibility of a voluntary dissolution.
Author Peter Brown describes concubinage was a perfectly respectable arrangement for a potential professor of rhetoric in the later Roman Empire. The subsequent birth of his son apparently had a sobering effect upon him - the parenthood that later as a bishop he would later recommend to young Christian husbands.
Even so, taking a concubine was an uncertain area of church law. The North African bishops had decided that it would be impossible to forbid Communion to anyone who was faithful to one partner in concubinage.
From his youth, Augustine was filled with the desire for wisdom.
Writing in the Confessions at the age of forty three years (ten years after his dramatic conversion to the Christian religion), he describes his adolescence in the worst possible light.
In Book III of his Confessions, Augustine says that at the age of eighteen, "I came to Carthage, and all around me in my ears were the activities of impure loves. I was not yet in love, but I loved the idea of love." (Confessions 3, 51)
What Augustine demonstrates many times in his Confessions is the desire to love and to be loved.
His relationship with the concubine he took in Carthage focuses on the problem of restless love.
For one thing, he went to Carthage wanting to be in love. He evidently was not in Carthage long before he took a concubine.
He wrote, "It was a sweet thing to be loved, and more sweet still when I was able to enjoy the body of a woman." (Confessions 3, 51)
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