One Note on Confessions 4.8.13

As Augustine analyzes the death of his unnamed friend in Confessions 4.8.13, he says: nam unde me facillime et in intima dolor ille pentraverat, nisi quia fuderam in harenam animam meam diligendo moriturum acsi non moriturum? “For why had that grief pierced so easily and so far into me, except because I had poured my soul out onto the sand by loving one who would die as if he would not die?”[1]

Such a sentiment is either a direct legacy of Stoicism or is accidentally but precisely in line with its tenets. Hence Epictetus, Enchiridion 3: ἂν παιδίον σαυτοῦ καταφιλῇς ἢ γυναῖκαὅτι ἄνθρωπον καταφιλεῖς· ἀποθανόντος γὰρ οὐ ταραχθήσῃ.  “If you kiss your child or your wife, [say] that you are kissing a human being. For if one of them dies, you will not be disturbed.”

Whether such a position and such a practice are possible, and whether, even if they are possible, such a position and such a practice are desirable or useful, are different questions altogether.


1 All translations are my own.


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