In Carthage

The generosity of Romanianus, a noble from Thagaste, helps Augustine to continue his studies in Carthage. Because of its laxity of morals, the large African metropolis is better known as Carthago Veneris (city of Venus). But let’s listen to Augustine: "I came to Carthage, where a cauldron of unholy loves was seething and bubbling all around me. I was not in love as yet, but I was in love with love; and, from a hidden hunger, I hated myself for not feeling more intensely a sense of hunger ... “To love and to be loved was sweet to me, and all the more when I gained the enjoyment of the body of the person I loved … Stage plays also captivated me, with their sights full of the images of my own miseries: fuel for my own fire”.

A year after arriving in Carthage, Augustine falls in love with a girl whom he holds on to as if she were a wife; he loves her dearly, remaining faithful to her like a husband. This girl, who is a large part of his life, is never called by name and he dedicates only a few lines to her in the Confessions, perhaps out of respect: he does not want to spoil the memory so sweet that he keeps locked in his heart. From this love, a child is born, Adeodato, with an intelligence bright enough to arouse in the father "a holy terror"; Adeodato dies prematurely, seventeen years old.

At the age of 19, Augustine reads Hortensius by Cicero and turns to philosophy; he thus gives in to the lure of the Manicheans, remaining entangled in their nets. There follows a period of deep crisis. He becomes an agnostic (that is, he associates himself with those philosophers who doubted everything, convinced that there exist no criteria of certainty, while in practical life they believe that the most likely opinion should be followed).