Saturday, March 6, 2010

St. Augustine's Confessions: Excerpts from Book IV

St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, concerning the death of his best friend:

"... quo dolore contenebratum est cor meum, et quidquid aspiciebam mors erat. et erat mihi patria supplicium, et paterna domus mira infelicitas, et quidquid cum illo conmunicaveram, sine illo in cruciatum inmanem verterat. expetebant eum undique oculi mei, et non dabatur: et oderam omnia, quod non haberent eum, nec mihi iam dicere poterant: ecce venit, sicut cum viveret, quando absens erat. factus eram ipse mihi magna quaestio, et interrogabam animam meam, quare tristis esset et quare conturbaret me valde, et nihil noverat respondere mihi. et si dicebam: spera in deum, iuste non obtemperabat, quia verior erat et melior homo, quem carissimum amiserat, quam phantasma, in quod sperare iubebatur ..."

The Water Buffalo's favorite translation by F.J. Sheed:

"... my heart was black with grief. Whatever I looked upon had the air of death. My native place was a prison house and my home a strange unhappiness. The things we had done together became sheer torment without him. My eyes were restless looking for him, but he was not there. I hated all places because he was not in them. They could not say, "He will come soon," as they would in his life when he was absent. I became a great enigma to myself and I was forever asking my soul why it disquieted me so sorely. And my soul knew not what to answer me. If I said, "Trust in God," my soul did not obey -- naturally, because the man whom she had loved and lost was nobler and more real than the imagined deity in whom I was bidding her trust ..."

"... mirabar enim ceteros mortales vivere, quia ille, quem quasi non moriturum dilexeram, mortuus erat; et me magis, quia ille alter eram, vivere illo mortuo mirabar. bene quidam dixit de amico suo: dimidium animae suae. nam ego sensi animam meam et animam illius unam fuisse animam in duobus corporibus, et ideo mihi horrori erat vita, quia nolebam dimidius vivere; et ideo forte mori metuebam, ne totus ille moreretur, quem multum amaveram ..."

"... I wondered that other mortals should live when he was dead whom I had loved as if he would never die; and I marveled still more that he should be and I his other half living still. Rightly has the friend been called, "the other half of my soul." For I thought of my soul and his soul as one soul in two bodies; and my life was a horror to me because I would not live halved. And it may be that I feared to die lest thereby he should die wholly whom I had loved so deeply ..."