Augustine, Alypius and Nebridius together were a "philosophical brotherhood" firstly in Carthage, secondly in Milan, and finally by correspondence when all three returned to North Africa. Augustine and Alypius went to their lay community at Thagaste, and Nebridius to his family estate near Carthage. Augustine described Nebridius as being a dear friend, a very good person and as having a very cautious disposition. He had an excellent intellect.
Nebridius and Augustine were of about the same age. When Augustine was living in Carthage, he had coaxed into Manicheanism two men who were to be his friends for life, Alypius and Nebridius. This is the first mention by Augustine of Nebridius, who was of a Carthage family. Nebridius was doubly wise in his leaving Manicheanism far more quickly than Augustine. As well, he convinced Augustine to give up his belief in astrology, or, as it was then called, mathematics. Through the influence of Nebridius, Augustine concluded that astrology is "utterly false." (This would prove to become an important first step in discarding the colourful Manichee mythology, which contained a number of bizarre accounts of the heavenly bodies). By rejecting this dubious form of prediction and the elaborate sacrificial rituals that often accompanied it, Augustine began to attribute its occasional success almost entirely to chance, which he saw as "a power everywhere diffused in the nature of things."
After Nebridius abandoned Manicheism he delivered lectures against it in 379 (Confessions 4, 3 and also 7, 2, 6). Nebridius and Augustine saw nothing of each other during first sojourn of Augustine in Rome in the year 383, because Nebridius did not leave North Africa at that time. When a year later Augustine moved from Rome to Milan as a lecturer in rhetoric in 384, Nebridius, out of regard for Augustine, left his home and mother in North Africa, and came to Italy to reside in Milan with Augustine and Alypius. Nebridius was not present at Cassasiciacum. Augustine wrote that Nebridius did this "for no other reason than that he might live with me in most ardent pursuit of truth and wisdom…. Together with me he wavered. How he burned to discover the happy life! How keen and close was his scrutiny of the most difficult questions!" (Confessions 4, 7, 10). Even when writing about this in his Confessions a dozen years later (and also seven years after the death of Nebridius), Augustine was still in admiration that this wealthy young man had left his family estate near Carthage and journeyed to Milan in order to be with Augustine and Alypius in their shared pursuit of Truth.
Alypius, Nebridius and Augustine were all by now former Manicheans. Just as Augustine had led all three of them in that path, he was now drawing the others willingly along his journey through Neo-Platonism towards the Christian religion. Sometime later in Milan, Nebridius undertook to assist Verecundus in his grammar lectures at the earnest request of Augustine. This duty he performed with great care and discretion. (Confessions 8, 6) Soon after Nebridius appears to have taken up the notion of the Docetae, that Christ took human nature not in reality but only in outward appearance. This was an error which, after a period of unknown length, Nebridius rejected. Shortly after the baptism of Augustine in 387, Nebridius too was baptised. He did not join the lay community that Augustine began at Thagaste in 388-89, possibly because of obligations associated with the estate of his family at Carthage, North Africa. He had not been with Augustine at Cassiciacum, nor was he with him at Ostia when Monica died.
Nebridius returned directly to his family estate near Carthage, maintained a chaste life style and drew others to the Christian religion. He maintained a correspondence with Augustine, and kept alive his quest for Truth. Although he was a lasting friend, Nebridius was a troublesome correspondent for Augustine. He was always very persistent in his questions, which were very intellectual and sometimes very difficult to answer. Nor was he ever satisfied with brief replies or with the quite justified reasons that Augustine gave him for not having the time to reply at greater length. (Letter 98, 8) Possibly Nebridius expected that their friendship accorded him the privilege of receiving more favourable attention from Augustine. Of the twelve letters which remain of their correspondence, two only are addressed by Nebridius to Augustine; the other ten are replies from Augustine. The complaints from Nebridius notwithstanding, the replies by Augustine are very lengthy, and are mainly on philosophical subjects of extreme subtlety.
For example, memory and imagination are discussed in Epistle 7, and Epistle 11 offers an early Augustinian essay on the Trinity. Nebridius told Augustine that he was enthralled by his letters. Because of the broader scholarly interest in the philosophical content of these letters, Augustine permitted others to make copies of this correspondence - possibly the first instance of Augustine's doing so. For him, it was a labour-saving way of transmitting his thoughts without his having to repeat the same content in book form. In the year 390 Nebridus died. This was another close death for Augustine at about the same time as the death of Adeodatus, his son. Not only had Nebridius died a Christian, but also he had induced all of his household to join him in the change. Augustine wrote a great final tribute to his friend, Nebridius, "And now he lives in the bosom of Abraham.... There he lives in a place about which he used often to ask questions of me, an ignorant weak man…. Now he no longer turns his ear to my lips; he turns his own spiritual lips to your fountain and drinks his fill of all the wisdom that he can desire, happy without end. And I do not think that he is so inebriated with that wisdom as to forget me; since it is of you, Lord, that he drinks, and you are mindful of us." (Confessions 9, 187-188) AN1417