Augustine had unease again. His ambition had outgrown Carthage.
He thus chose in the year 383 to seek his fortune elsewhere. He went to Rome, the centre and capital of the Empire.
Augustine already knew some people in Rome. They included his good friend, Alypius, and a number of his former pupils from Carthage.
Several of them had written to invite him to Rome.
They created attractive possibilities in the imagination of Augustine.
They told him that the students in Rome were better than those in Carthage, and that he would earn more money.
Possibly because this was what Augustine wanted to hear, he believed them.
And he was further encouraged by Manichean contacts in Rome to help him to become established.
It also was an opportunity for him to escape the presence of his mother, Monica.
Her desire for his baptism was something about which mother and son disagreed. She clearly told him about what her Christian viewpoint saw to be his heretical adherence to Manicheanism. (See Confessions 5, 8 & 9)
In spite of the appeals from his mother, Monica, he lied to her about his travel plans and sailed away at night from the African continent to Europe.
This was to be both his first and his only voyage to Italy.
Rome of the fourth century was no longer a city with political or military significance for the Roman empire, but nobody at the time dared to say it.
By common consent, the pretence was maintained that the city of Rome was the hub of civilisation, and so the pretence became a hope that fulfilled itself.
Prestige is a matter of reputation rather than of reality, and Rome had a reputation that stretched back for centuries.
Augustine took a few months to find a place there. On top of that, he did not reach Rome at a good time.
The city was suffering famine subsequent to the revolt by Maximus in June of that year.
As well, Augustine promptly contracted a fever that almost killed him. He had to be supported by friends until he recovered, and his dependence on them was a blow to his pride.
(Continued on the next page.)
Sant'Agostino Church, Rome. For further exterior and interior photos of that church, use the photo gallery button on the top of this page.