School Experience

Augustine spends his youth like young people all over the world. Lively, not particularly fond of the school, terrified as he is of the teacher’s stick. He has a strong aversion to scholastic methods that are coercive and not at all "human".

He attends the primary school in Thagaste, in his hometown (in Algeria). Between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, he studies grammar in nearby Madaura, where he also improves his Latin. He develops a passion for the writings of Virgil, moving himself to tears over the tragic death of Dido. Because of his exercises on the Latin poets, who narrate the indecencies of the gods, he is called the "child full of promise”. Thus, his adolescent crisis matures with the study of erotic poets, by whom he is literally overwhelmed.

He successfully completes his studies in grammar and returns to Thagaste. He spends a year without doing anything; a choice which turns out to be disastrous, because "the thorns of lust grew rank over my head, and there was no hand to pluck them out". It is a wretched year: bad company even teaches him to be ashamed of being less bad than others. In short, he learns to do bad just for the fun of it, together with others, as demonstrated by the theft of pears from the garden of a neighbour.